After each game, we're going to highlight three defensive and three offensive players and look in detail at their performance. We'll start today with the offense:
On the face of it, Bilal Powell had a nice productive return from his calf injury, racking up 83 yards on just 11 touches with a further 17 yard gain called back due to a penalty.
The Jets' opening play was masterfully designed as the defense anticipated a receiver screen to Robby Anderson on one side and then Josh McCown wheeled around to dump it to Powell in the opposite flat. With three blockers out in front, Powell was easily able to gain an immediate 31 yards. He would later find a ton of space off the edge on this, his longest run of the day:
Powell also had an 11-yard run, again showing good burst off the edge. However, he didn't have much success otherwise. His other seven carries netted just six yards and he had just one other catch for nine yards.
While some of that was due to poor blocking, Powell should have had a touchdown on this goal line play that was well-blocked.
As you can see, he hits the hole with plenty of room and should be able to get low and drive for the line relatively easily. However, he seemed to underestimate Kiko Alonso's ability to fill the hole. Instead of getting low, Powell was upright as he got to the line and turned his back into the defender who hit him low and hard to knock him backwards before he broke the plane.
It was a great play by Alonso, but the Jets can't afford to leave easy chances to score on the field like this. In the end, they scored anyway, so it didn't matter.
Even more disconcerting was Powell's fourth quarter fumble. Although this was correctly turned over by the replay booth, that's still disappointing ball security in that situation.
While it was a nice return for Powell overall and certainly seemed to help the offense in the first three quarters, he is hopefully capable of doing more in future games as the Jets figure out how best to rotate their backs.
Eric Tomlinson has settled nicely into his role as the number two tight end. His run blocking has been good and he's shown a nice ability to leak out for some good gains in the passing game too.
That was the case again yesterday, as he caught a dump-off with blockers out in front and charged downfield for a nice 26-yard gain.
In terms of his blocking, he made three particularly good blocks. One was the driving block on the edge on Powell's long run which you can see above and one was a kick-out block on the edge, whereas the other came as he lined up at fullback and made a good lead block at the second level to spring Matt Forté for 15 yards:
However, Tomlinson's blocking was not perfect. He allowed his man to fight off his second level block and get in on the tackle on one play. Another saw him beaten inside on a play that got blown up for a loss. He also reacted late on a snap, ultimately leading to a sack, although I expect that was snapped too early due to a communication issue.
On the whole, Tomlinson is a perfect complement to Austin Seferian-Jenkins and has done a solid job since arriving with little fanfare in the middle of last year.
McCown in the dumps
Last week, we discussed where McCown was leaving opportunities on the field. That seemed to be the case again on a few occasions yesterday, even though he became the first Jets player with three touchdown passes and one touchdown rush since Al Dorow achieved that three times in the team's inaugural season back in 1960.
Just as importantly, McCown was sacked three times on plays where he had plenty of time to throw the ball away. Having eluded a potential sack to extend the play on a few occasions, that sack number could have been much higher.
Here's one example:
The problem here is that McCown sees a receiver uncovering - possibly the receiver at the top of the screen who runs an in-breaking route across the field as the defense drops off - too late and then loses yardage as he tries to buy himself enough time to find an angle for the throw. Rather than trying to make a throw back across the middle of the field, McCown needed to cut his losses here and throw the ball away, not give up even more yardage.
On another coverage sack, two players came off the left side and he had Tomlinson wide open as a hot read for some easy yardage but never even looked that way and was forced to run away from the pressure. He had Seferian-Jenkins underneath early on the other sack, although that might not have generated a first down.
To his credit, one positive thing worth noting is that McCown has gone three games without a fumble. That's important because he'd fumbled six times in the previous three games, so it's good to see a successful emphasis on ball security in the pocket.
His ball security in terms of turning the ball over generally has been good all year, but the interception yesterday was a killer. Until that point, he'd missed three or four throws, all of them low and therefore safe from being picked.
McCown has since confirmed what was obvious from the film - that he didn't see the slot corner dropping into the passing lane until it was too late.
McCown is what he is and his consistency is appreciated given some of the quarterback play we've seen over the years. However, the system in place has the potential to be really successful if they get a really good one.
For now, McCown will have to do.
PREVIOUSLY: Slipping away