Jets "at" Giants: In-depth analysis - Defense

The Jets and Giants shook off the rust in a scrappy preseason opener which saw the Giants backups overcome an early deficit to deservedly win 31-22.

We're going to break down how every player performed for you today, starting with the defense.

Defensive Line - Fats Destroyer

We're not going to be able to draw too many conclusions about the starters on defense because the Jets' first unit forced a three-and-out and that was the only three plays they were on the field for.

However, with Leonard Williams and Steve McLendon not playing, the two starters on inside - Nathan Shepherd and Quinnen Williams - both got some extra work with the backups with Shepherd seeing action into the second half.

The rookie Williams was disruptive in the first series against the starters as he took on a double team to draw a holding penalty and then did an excellent job of getting upfield on Nate Solder, getting him off his spot to prevent a bounce-out and then keeping his inside arm free to shed and get in on the stop:


While it was encouraging to see him make an early impact, Williams failed to dominate against the reserves in his reps over the next few series, which was perhaps a bit of a let down, but there were no negatives to report either.

Shepherd penetrated into the backfield a bunch of times in a disruptive performance, although there were also three plays where he was driven off the line or downhill. On one play, he drew a hold in the backfield and he blew up another by shooting a gap, although he missed the tackle. He didn't create any kind of a pass rush though and was only credited with one tackle.

Foley Fatukasi also got plenty of work and generated some good penetration. He was in on six run stops, although the Giants were called for holding on two of those, so he didn't get official credit. Four of those were for no gain and he also had no negatives as he definitely raised his stock against backups.

The two 2018 draft picks, who played over 50 snaps between them, were a big part of the reason why the Giants barely averaged two yards per carry.

Three rookies - Kyle Phillips, Trevon Sanders and MyQuon Stout also saw action. Of the three, Phillips saw the most time and made the biggest impact as he was credited with two run stuffs and helped bottle up another. Sanders drew a holding penalty on one play, though.

Edges - Luvu 3000

During the offseason, it was reported that the Jets would remain a 3-4 team, despite the fact they were never a pure 3-4 team anyway. This always seemed unlikely to be the case, as Gregg Williams has always operated out of a variety of formations and personnel groupings.

It was therefore not that much of a surprise the see the Jets come out in a conventional 4-3 with Henry Anderson and Bronson Kaufusi as the ends. What was surprising was that Brandon Copeland started off in an off-ball linebacker role and also that he looked good in coverage on that first play:


Copeland has played as an off-ball linebacker before, so he has the flexibility to do this if required. And, of course, the Jets can use the identical front seven personnel to move Copeland up to the line and employ Anderson as part of a three-man line and Copeland and Kaufusi as 3-4 outside backers.

Anderson was just in for those first three plays but he got into the backfield to blow up a run, albeit that he failed to make the play himself. Kaufusi got a lot more time and had a rare quarterback hit on a stunt that was originally ruled a sack-fumble. He was otherwise quiet though, with one tackle.

Jordan Jenkins and Frankie Luvu look like surefire picks to be on the final roster and each did good work against the run but failed to generate any pressure. In limited action Jenkins had a tackle for loss cleaning up and Luvu was also in on a couple of run stuffs. He also forced a turnover with a big hit to jar the ball loose following a short pass.

Could anyone generate pressure off the edge? It wouldn't come from Jachai Polite, whose only pressure in his NFL debut came on a screen pass where they may have let him through deliberately to some extent. Polite was in on a couple of tackles on running plays and did draw a holding penalty, though.

The only edge to really have any kind of pass rushing success was Tarell Basham, who got around the edge to create pressure a couple of times in the second quarter. He was also able to make a good stop near the line on a receiver screen.

Rookies Jamey Mosley and Justin Alexandre also saw action on the edge. Mosley was in on a run stop and made a tackle for a short gain on a quarterback scramble.

Harvey Langi did not play due to a knee injury.

Linebackers - Snapping necks and Cashing checks

It's difficult to get a read on CJ Mosley's performance since he wasn't directly involved in any of the three snaps he was on the field for. Still we can glean a couple of things. Referring to the previous gif, you'll see how quickly he reacts and stays with his man as the Giants run that familiar old preseason staple: The Sail Concept.

Perhaps more telling was what happened as soon as he was no longer on the field. The Giants picked up a big gain in behind Avery Williamson on a long over route.


This has been a hole in the Jets' zone coverages since Williamson arrived and the hope is that with Mosley directing traffic this won't happen as often, but once again Williamson seemed unaware and late to react as the cornerback passed off this route into non-existent zone coverage.

Williamson perhaps surprisingly returned to the field for special teams duties after the lengthy rain delay when you might have expected the team to shut him down. After Mosley's departure, Neville Hewitt joined Williamson with the second unit.

Hewitt had a missed tackle to lead to a first down run, but also recovered a fumble and came unblocked on a blitz to generate pressure.

The Jets opted not to rotate Blake Cashman in on passing downs as they've been doing a lot of the time in camp. Instead he got second unit reps once Williamson left the game. Cashman had an active first game but wasn't perfect as he got beaten for a first down in coverage and missed a tackle in the flat. Still, he made a couple of good open field tackles underneath and his positioning seemed solid.

James Burgess and Anthony Wint closed out the game with Wint showing good pursuit out to the sideline on his one tackle. Burgess also had one tackle and a pressure but he gave up a first down in zone coverage and got blocked out downfield on a screen pass.

Defensive Backs - Montrel exposes Giants' weaknesses

There was nothing much to be learned about the starting secondary for the Jets, as safety Jamal Adams and cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts were only in for those first three plays. We learned even less about Brian Poole, who was in for one defensive snap. None of the corners were tested but Adams made some noise with a tackle for loss cleaning up on the second play.

The other safety, Rontez Miles, came back out with the second unit, but didn't really get involved in any plays either, although he had one tackle.

Instead, this was more about the reserves and they didn't do much to create confidence in the Jets' secondary depth.

The three young cornerbacks currently projected to fill out the reserve roles on this year's roster - Derrick Jones, Parry Nickerson and Kyron Brown - each had some rough moments in coverage as the Giants passed for 376 yards with eight plays of 15 or longer.

Jones, who also got lucky on an end zone overthrow after he was half-beaten, looked especially bad on this deep ball where he whiffed completely on the jam and never recovered:


As for Nickerson, he was responsible for a 51-yard touchdown as he got beaten on a slant and then let the receiver slip out of his tackle. He didn't get much help from safety Doug Middleton though, who should've been able to stop the play for a much shorter gain, but overpursued and was wrong-footed in the open field.

He also had another missed tackle and gave up a couple of other first downs where he was in a pretty good position and almost made the play.

The undrafted rookie Brown, who has done well to get onto the second unit made a few good tackles as he was tied for the team lead with five. However, he gave up a third down conversion and badly blew a coverage where he gambled and tried to jump a route in the slot, leaving his own man alone. He was also lucky on a deep throw where he was half-beaten.

Mark Myers, Dee Delaney and Tevaughn Campbell got work with the third unit and none really impressed enough to move up.

Delaney made a good open field tackle but gave up a third down conversion and got beaten for a touchdown on a play where he got turned around and failed to locate the ball.

Campbell gave up a couple of first downs, including one where he was flagged for holding after grabbing a piece of jersey and could have been flagged for facemasking or illegal hands to the face on the same play.

Myers didn't give up anything in coverage, but was beaten on a play where the pass was overthrown. He did generate a pressure on a blitz and was in on a third down tackle to force a punt.

One surprising factor was that rookie Santos Ramirez was ahead of Middleton in the rotation. He got beaten for a touchdown and blew one other coverage downfield, although he was in on a few stops. Middleton played pretty well apart from his mistake on the Nickerson play mentioned earlier. He had a good open field hit and made a play in coverage.

Montrel Meander was the only Jet to register a sack and also made a good stop on a screen pass. Looks like he's a safety and not a cornerback for the time being.

Godwin Igwebuike was credited with three tackles, but all of them were downfield. He did help force a stretch run out wide though.

Recent addition Alex Brown did not play and neither did Art Maulet who has a hamstring injury. Marcus Maye remains on the PUP list. Brandon Bryant was in for just three snaps.

Don't go away because we'll have our offensive review later this morning.