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:
Brent Qvale got his first start of the year, although as he heads to free agency, being the 11th guy to get a start on one of the league's worst lines probably isn't something to hang your hat on.
Nevertheless, Qvale did reasonably well in pass protection, allowing just one pressure. The Bills were getting interior penetration, but the Jets wisely schemed around this by getting rid of the ball or getting Sam Darnold on the move.
In the running game, Qvale was ineffective, especially in the second half, whether in terms of staying on his block, finding his man in space or holding up at the point of attack. He did well on this second-level block to spring Le'Veon Bell for a first down though.
Qvale did also hustle out well to make a key block on Le'Veon Bell's third-down catch and run which set up the field goal that iced the win.
On the whole, Qvale has proven himself to be a valuable reserve with good versatility, albeit not someone with a high upside. He should compete for a roster spot somewhere next year, but the Jets will presumably restock the line to make him a long-shot at being on the team next season.
Trevon Wesco's playing time has increased down the stretch, especially as the Jets have being using the fullback more. Wesco played just 19 snaps at fullback in the first 13 games, but has played at least 10 in each of the last three.
Using Wesco at fullback had been effective a few weeks ago, but it hasn't really worked over the past few weeks. It was probably something that mainly worked because the other team hadn't prepared for it, whereas the last two teams have.
Wesco has done a decent job as a run blocker this season, albeit mostly in a situational role. On Sunday, he and the running game generally were ineffective, though.
That's perhaps illustrated by the ill-fated wildcat call on 3rd-and-short. Wesco aggressively rides the defensive end out of the play and to the ground here, but it looks like the play was designed to go right up the middle and Wesco allowing the initial inside penetration forces Bell to try to bounce outside:
However, had Jamison Crowder and Josh Malone done a more effective job of slowing down the defensive backs they were tasked with blocking, perhaps Bell could've got to the marker in behind Wesco's block.
Wesco only caught two passes all season and, in fact, was only targeted twice until Sunday. They tried to get him a touchdown by leaking him out to the flat on a goal-line play but he wasn't open and the pass fell incomplete. The Jets scored anyway on the next play.
One other area where Wesco has shown improvement has been as a pass blocker. Although he gave up a bad sack to Matt Judon in the Ravens game, that was the only pressure he gave up in 17 pass block snaps over the last four games. He had previously given up four pressures, including another sack, in 19 pass block attempts. That's another area for him to work on during the offseason though.
Although this was the third week in a row where Vyncint Smith has recorded three catches, this can certainly go down as his best game of the season. He ended up with 36 yards on his three catches as well as a 20-yard run on a gadget play.
Here's that gadget play. It was nicely designed as Jamison Crowder motions into the backfield and the action flows to the right, making it look like Darnold is going to throw an option pitch to Crowder. Instead, he pitches it to Smith going against the grain and this would have been an easy touchdown if Bell made a better block:
Smith had two first down catches, including one on another well-designed play that enabled him to uncover underneath for a third down conversion. The other, on the play before his end-around, saw him get a clean release off the line for a nice completion on a skinny post.
He had two other plays where Darnold threw to him coming back to the ball. One was stopped just shy of the marker and the other was a low throw that Smith couldn't scoop off the turf. Smith's route running, hands and abilities after the catch have all shown promise this year. The only thing he hasn't really shown is the ability to separate on deep routes.
Although Smith missed a few blocks on the outside, he just about got enough of his man to enable Crowder to break outside for a nice gain on the first drive. Blocking is another area he needs to work at.
Smith has also contributed on special teams this year, although he got blown up at his own 15 on his only return on Sunday. Overall, though, he certainly brings enough to the table to warrant more of a look next year.
We'll be back with the 3-on-D tomorrow...