After each game, we're going to highlight three defensive and three offensive players and look in detail at their performance. We'll wrap up today with the offense:
Despite playing less than half the game, Brent Qvale piled up a bunch of negative plays. However, with Brandon Shell's status having been carted off still up in the air at the time of writing, it seems likely that Qvale will be the starting right tackle for the rest of the season.
Shell was probably the Jets' most effective lineman on Saturday, with part of his role requiring him to single-block JJ Watt from time to time. Qvale was less equipped to handle the same role, but the team probably would have had a different plan had they known they'd be without Shell.
In the running game, Watt got off Qvale's block twice to blow up runs, although he missed the tackle on one of those. Qvale also had one play where he missed his block at the second level and he was driven back into the backfield which led to Trenton Cannon being bottled up on 3rd-and-1 (although the Jets clearly should have challenged the forward progress on Cannon's second effort).
In pass protection, Watt beat Qvale and flushed Darnold from the pocket on one play, causing Darnold to throw the ball away and also beat him to create pressure and draw a hold on a third down play.
It wasn't just Watt doing the damgage though. On the fourth down play that saw Darnold pass go off Robby Anderson's fingertips with the Jets down by four, Darnold was flushed from the pocket after Whitney Mercilus drove him back to create pressure:
On a positive note, Qvale did a decent job on a couple of running plays of driving his man downhill on combo blocks.
Qvale struggled in preseason, but he's been able to hold his own when called upon for spot duty in the past, so if he has to start the last two games, hopefully he'll fare better with more time for him and the team to prepare.
It will be important for his NFL future for him to do well here. However, if he continues to struggle, perhaps the Jets will give some reps to another young player such as Ben Braden instead.
In addition to his exploits on special teams, Andre Roberts made some contributions on offense this week, with three catches including a touchdown.
On the touchdown catch, Roberts ran a great route to shake the cornerback out of his socks and had an easy catch in the end zone for his first touchdown since December 2016 and only his second since October 2014.
This was also his first three-catch game since October 2016, although his other two catches netted just three yards. On the season he has contributed 71 yards and a touchdown on nine touches.
Roberts also made an important contribution as a blocker, springing Sam Darnold for this third down conversion on a scramble:
Roberts has established himself as a perfect fifth receiver. Some weeks - like last week, in fact, he won't get any reps at all. But this week, with Rishard Matthews injured and the Jets playing from behind, he saw plenty of time. However, it wasn't even his highest snap count of the season. For the year Roberts has played at least 10 snaps five times, including three games with over 20 snaps.
From a roster management perspective, Roberts has been ideal because he's happy with his role if not seeing any time on offense, but capable of making adequate contributions when required.
Thinking back to camp when it was argued that someone like ArDarius Stewart or Chad Hansen should be the number five, that was never going to be practical because once Roberts locked up the return role - or perhaps more accurately, Cannon proved incapable of handling the role - Roberts was going to have to be active each week, so a sixth receiver would simply be stuck on the inactive list most of the time.
Time to host a Wintervention?
Brian Winters had one of his toughest games of the year, with multiple negative plays both in the running game and in pass protection. However, he also made some positive contributions helping out the right tackle on JJ Watt in pass protection and with a few impact blocks in the running game.
One further positive was that he didn't have any penalties in this game and, in fact, only has five on the year. If he avoids being flagged in the last two games, Winters will end up with the lowest penalty count of his career (apart from 2014 where he missed more than half the season due to injury).
What tipped this over from a battling performance with more negatives than positives into a bad one was that he was beaten on each of the third down sacks on the Jets' last two possessions, which doomed them to fourth and long situations that ultimately ended the drive.
He also gave up a few other pressures, including this one that messed up the timing on a potential touchdown. Elijah McGuire looked to be open over the middle for a touchdown if the protection had held up.
Winters has definitely been better than last year, as obviously he has been healthier and that's made a difference. However, he still has lapses at times and, like most players, can be overmatched against the elite.
One beat writer recently suggested that Winters should be cut during the offseason for cap relief. This seems unlikely, even though he had a torrid time with Watt and Co. on Saturday.
PREVIOUSLY: 3-on-D: Pierre-Louis, Miles, Anderson