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Jets didn’t finish tackles in key spots vs. Broncos

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NFL: New York Jets at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

An inability to finish tackles by the Jets helped the Broncos extend two of their three scoring drives in the first half of yesterday’s game, helping Denver to take control of the game.

On the first series of the game, the Jets were in a position to get off the field defensively by forcing a quick three and out. On third and six, Muhammad Wilkerson then jumped offside to give the Broncos a short third and one.

The Jets still squandered a golden opportunity to make a stop as Darron Lee failed to bring down C.J. Anderson short of the sticks.

The one thing you can say for Lee is he did cover a ton of ground to even get to Anderson. You can compare where he is at the start of the play with where he finishes to see that.

Lee then makes contact with Anderson one yard behind the line of scrimmage and two yards behind the first down marker.

But Anderson grinds through the tackle and drags Lee past the marker to extend the drive.

If you want to give Lee credit for getting to Anderson feel free, but getting to him here isn’t good enough. There was a big play to be made, and it was not made. If the Jets get the stop here, Denver has to punt. The drive was extended, and the Broncos took an early lead on a field goal.

Near the end of the first half, there was a similar play that helped extend a Broncos drive.

Again we had a Jets defender covering a lot of ground. This time it was Kony Ealy. This season Ealy has become adept at knowing when to give up on his pass rush. If he knows he is not getting to a quarterback, he drops back and reads the quarterback’s eyes. This has helped him bat down so many passes at the line of scrimmage. On this play, it helps him jump out on Anderson after he catches a pass on third and thirteen.

Ealy makes first contact around with Anderson around the Denver 48 yard line, 8 yards short of the first down.

Anderson keeps his legs churning and gets all the way to the New York 45 yard line, setting up fourth and one. He picked up 7 yards after contact.

If Ealy finishes that tackle 7 yards short of the marker, the Broncos probably have to punt. Because Anderson was able to get the ball to within a yard of the marker, it changed Denver’s calculus. The Broncos felt they were close enough to go for it. They converted the fourth down play and added another field goal.

You hear all the time about how important missed tackles are. In some cases, even making a tackle isn’t good enough. Finishing a tackle to prevent hidden yardage from being picked up can be just as important.