After each game, we've been highlighting three defensive and three offensive players and looking in detail at their performance. We'll start today with the offense:
Having previously only played 13 snaps as a jumbo package tight end with the Jets - and just 24 offensive snaps in his career prior to that - Conor McDermott was a surprise starter at right guard. While he has practiced at the guard position, McDermott had never previously played there at the NFL or college level.
On the first drive, McDermott showed some promise as a run blocker, controlling his man at the point of attack a couple of times and, on two plays where he allowed initial penetration, managing to wall his man off from making the tackle.
Here's an example of a good rep from McDermott, as he and Brandon Shell execute the combo block and then Shell is able to peel off while McDermott seals his man on the outside to create a lane up the middle. Unfortunately, Jonotthan Harrison and Alex Lewis are less successful in their own combo block, limiting the gain:
As the game went on, McDermott's impact in the running game lessened. He allowed penetration on one run and there were three where his man got off his block and in on the play, including one at the second level.
In pass protection, McDermott got walked back into the quarterback's lap on one play that led to a sack. However, he otherwise only got beat a couple of times and one of those was late in the play.
It looks likely he'll get one more chance to start this weekend and will be back in camp next year because he's got one more year at the minimum left on his contract.
An injection of Qvality
This was the first time all season that Brent Qvale has received any offensive playing time and he may have been disappointed not to get the start ahead of McDermott.
Still, he got into the game for 10 snaps as a jumbo package tight end. The Jets did not have much success running the ball with him in the game as they averaged less than one yard per carry with him in, although he did make a good second level block on one play.
The Jets only attempted one pass with Qvale in the game and he messed up on a stunt and allowed TJ Watt a free run at Sam Darnold, which almost led to an interception:
Qvale, who is now 28, is only earning $1.25m plus playing time incentives this year and has shown he can fill in at guard or tackle. However, the Jets' decision to get a look at McDermott over giving him his first start of the year suggests they're perhaps looking for younger players to fill their backup roles going forwards.
However, with Lewis also injured this week, it's possible Qvale will get to start in week 17. That's a good opportunity for his to get some quality reps on film.
Early season pick-up Vyncint Smith continues to make a late-season push for a more substantial role next year. In this game, he had three catches for 32 yards. That's two games in a row with three catches after previously never having more than two in his first 10 games as a Jet.
Smith's first catch was a quick pass for an eight yard gain on an RPO. That was nice play design and good execution for some simple positive yardage on first down.
On his next reception, during the Jets' two-minute drill at the end of the first half, Smith picked up a first down on an underneath pass and did well to break outside to get out of bounds.
However, his best play was this one, where he did well to separate from tight coverage and turn upfield for a few extra yards:
Smith also contributed on his lone unsuccessful target, which was almost intercepted by Joe Haden. Smith helped to break that up, although it represents yet another attempt to go deep to him where he was unable to get any separation. That's been a pattern over the course of the season.
Smith also continues to contribute on special teams, in a return role and as a gunner and vice. He didn't contribute much there this week though, as he got beaten twice by the Steelers' gunner and didn't get a chance at a return.
Overall, though, Smith continues to get a chance to showcase his abilities and deliver on his considerable promise.
We'll be back with the 3-on-D tomorrow...