Though the Jets allowed 37 points to the Vikings, I thought the defense actually did a very nice job. The Jets offense gave the Vikings offense tremendous field position, yet the Jets defense still came up with 8 forced punts and kept the Jets in the game until late. The play of the banged up secondary was a key reason why the defense was so surprisingly solid against a high-octane offense.
Let’s take a look at the numbers!
- The coverage numbers include only legitimate targets into the general area of a receiver/defender; throws in which a defender in coverage was directly involved the outcome. Throwaways and deflections at the line are excluded.
- The stats for each individual are that of the quarterback’s passing numbers when targeting the individual’s matchup. A player could receive coverage credit even if a teammate finished the play. For example, against Denver this season, Morris Claiborne tipped a pass in this direction that ended up being intercepted by Marcus Maye. I credited Claiborne with that interception.
- Penalties and pass breakups counted are only those accumulated in coverage. Penalties/PBUs picked up on blitzes, or penalties tackling another player’s responsibility, are not included. PBUs and INTs in the box score are not exclusive to one another.
- “Burns mitigated by opponent miscue,” or “miscues” (M) are included in charting to attempt to knock defenders who benefited from an egregious error by the offense (drop, horrible throw) and give perspective to the validity of their raw stats. A defender can still register an interception or incompletion to his credit on a miscued play.
First, here’s a look at each targeted player’s total numbers in coverage against Minnesota.
Next, let’s take a look at the coverage numbers broken down by individual player-vs.-player matchups and man coverage vs. zone coverage.
*I made a slight update to the chart layout this week. Instead of listing wide receivers who lined up both inside and outside twice separately, their production when lined up outside versus when lined up in the slot are differentiated between black text and blue text in the same box.
Some takeaways from me:
- Possessing arguably the best wide receiver duo in the NFL and with the Jets missing Trumaine Johnson, the Vikings made it their priority to go after Darryl Roberts. They targeted him an insane 16 times, the most targets I’ve tagged on one player in a single game over the 2 seasons I’ve been charting these numbers. For the most part, he was up to the challenge. After giving up a tightly contested 34-yard touchdown to Adam Thielen on the Vikings’ first drive, Roberts allowed only 62 yards and 2 first downs on his next 15 targets over the course of the game.
In particular, he shut down Stefon Diggs. When targeting Diggs against Roberts, the Vikings picked up only 22 yards and no first downs on 8 targets.
- Parry Nickerson was also focused on, and he was not as successful as Roberts. He allowed 66 yards and 3 first downs on 7 targets, failing to register any plays on the ball. He was lucky to not allow a huge deep pass up the seam as he failed miserably to locate the football, but luckily Kirk Cousins missed the throw under pressure and Aldrick Robinson also could not locate the ball.
- Cousins didn’t even bother to challenge Claiborne until late in the game. Claiborne had given up only 6 yards on 2 targets until Cousins challenged him deep on a 4th & 8 in the fourth quarter, where the ball miraculously found its way through Claiborne’s grasp into the hands of Robinson.
- Minnesota barely bothered to challenge anybody outside of Roberts and Nickerson, but the rest of the team did a solid job when called upon. Doug Middleton broke up a potential touchdown to Kyle Rudolph, Terrence Brooks contested a couple of deep incompletions, and Darron Lee made a surprise coverage drop to deflect a pass.
Roberts was succeeding all over the field, contesting deep passes and making tackles underneath.
Here, in the first quarter, Roberts shows impressive makeup speed to compete with Diggs on the deep shot, doing a nice job deflecting the pass without committing a penalty. It’s hard to stick with wide receivers running full speed vertically down the field - but quarterbacks are only going to throw passes that deep in perfect stride a very low percentage of the time. The most essential parts of defending these types of routes are being able to recover and to play the ball without drawing a flag. Nice job by Roberts doing those things here.
Underneath, Roberts flew to the ball and tackled tremendously - a part of his game that had been a major weakness over the first six weeks.
This is a first down if Roberts doesn’t read and close on this play as quickly as he does. Efficient route to the ball, quick burst, strong tackle.
Parry Nickerson has mostly struggled in coverage, but he has had some positive moments breaking on passes underneath. However, there is one facet of his game that has frustrated me - his inability to generate big plays.
He has let far too many high-percentage takeaway opportunities slip through his grasp. For a while, you can get by with “hey, get the next one!” After all, it’s tough to get your hands on a football as a defensive back - as the saying goes, there’s a reason they’re playing defense.
However, at some point you begin hurting your team if you let missed opportunities for game-changing plays stockpile. The teams that convert chances like these at the highest rates tend to win the most.
Pick up the darn thing! (Darron Lee also should’ve made a play on it)
A tipped pass by Leonard Williams falls into Nickerson’s hands, but he can’t come all the way down with it.
He also had a blatant dropped pick against the Colts last week. Eventually, you want to see Nickerson come up with a big play or two to make up for his struggles elsewhere.
It’s hard to have expected more from this group. As mentioned, you would’ve liked to have seen them generate a big turnover, but they allowed only 10 passing first downs. The average NFL team has gained 13 of those per game this year. The big plays hurt, but the Jets held up in key spots and kept a great offense quiet for as long as they could. Considering the opponent, injuries, and help they got from the offensive side of the ball, the defense did a respectable job this week. Darnold and the offense just didn’t hold up their end of the bargain.
Will Parry Nickerson ever be a starter for the Jets?
This poll is closed
Yes, a good one
Yes, but only a placeholding one