I knew the Jets offensive line had a bad game against Jacksonville, as expected considering the absurdly talented defensive front they were competing against. However, it did not occur to me while watching the game live that the line was as terrible as they turned out to look when rewatching the tape. This was an atrocious outing - in my opinion, the third consecutive week they have regressed. And, this was the largest regression.
Let’s dive in!
As I will always mention, it is impossible to capture everything with the stats, but with this series I hope to capture the most impactful plays accumulated by each linemen, both positive and negative, to help better our perspective on their production levels. Every single snap does matter, and here we will only be grading a small portion of those snaps, but this data can still help shape our opinions on players more properly and truly. Do not use these numbers as final judgement, but as useful evidence.
Here’s what I’ve been tracking:
- Stuffs (runs for 2 yards or less and no first down) allowed in the run game
- Rushing first downs assisted
- “Setup runs” assisted (which I now define as a 5+ yard pickup on 1st-3rd down that did not result in a first down). Despite not resulting in a first down, these kinds of pickups are still positive plays that deserve to be tracked.
- Sacks allowed
- QB hits allowed
- QB pressures allowed (pressure counts now include all throws affected by pressure, forced rollouts/dodged defenders, and forced throwaways)
- Deflections allowed (occurrences when allowing the currently engaged defender to bat/deflect a pass at the line)
- Open field assists (blocking assists for significant extra yardage/first down by any player, OL or skill position, in the pass game while a pass receiver has the football)
- Pass blocking snaps (UPDATE: Pass blocking snaps now counted for all players rather than just the base five linemen. Team pass attempts + sacks)
- Penalties (Total accepted, yards, first downs/scores wiped out, and declined)
Here are the numbers for the Jets in Week 4! Shield your eyes!
Some of my takeaways:
- It all fell apart for Brandon Shell. While his first three games were on the whole very solid, he was walking on thin ice over the past two weeks, allowing 3 pressures in each game without being tagged for any sacks or hits. The walls finally caved in. Shell played the worst game of any lineman this season. He was getting abused on the edge by Dante Fowler and Yannick Ngakoue. I tagged Shell for a sack, a hit, and a whopping 6 pressures, for a total of 8 pressures that is the most I’ve tagged a Jet for in a single game throughout the entire preseason and the first quarter of the regular season.
Fowler and Ngakoue were getting it done in all sorts of ways against Shell - inside, outside, speed power. In particular, Shell was absolutely decimated by the inside spin move, especially by Fowler. It was quite a fall for Shell. He had Sam running for his life all game.
- The entire line struggled. All in all, by my count, they allowed 21 total pressures across 37 official Darnold dropbacks. That’s a horrifyingly terrible rate of pressure, regardless of who the opponent is. The only Jet lineman to allow less than 2 pressures was Spencer Long, who gave up an awful sack on a missed stunt.
The Jets barely bothered to run the ball, making only 14 attempts, tied for the 7th lowest total on the season through four weeks. When they did, it was ineffective, as they ran for only 2.4 yards per carry and compiled a ghastly 9:1 stuff-to-first down ratio. Long continues to be boom-or-bust (with more bust so far) in this phase of the game while Brian Winters is simply becoming a major liability. To this point, the Jets are the only team in the league with 2 games in which they averaged less than 2.5 yards per carry.
- Shoutout to Chris Herndon and Jordan Leggett. I decided to start tallying pass protection snaps for skill position players, and it turns out Herndon has had a perfectly clean 11 pass pro reps so far. Solid start in that phase for him despite his shaky run blocking. As for Leggett, the opposite is true. He hasn’t played a role in pass protection, but I now have him at 4 rushing assists and 0 stuffs allowed so far.
I’m not going to say a whole lot about this first clip, other than that it is a perfect microcosm of the offensive line’s performance in this game.
You saw Brandon Shell get pummeled in the clip above, luckily Dante Fowler tripped and could not create any pressure. Let’s focus a bit more on Shell, who as mentioned had a monstrosity of a game.
Here, Shell gets too high against Ngakoue and allows him to easily rip through and dip underneath to get the hit on Darnold.
This time, Ngakoue picks up a sack against Shell. Again lined up out wide as the 9-technique, this time Ngakoue powers right through Shell as he gets his hips extremely low to the ground, gets beneath the pads of Shell, and engages with a powerful first punch. The power game has always been Shell’s weakness due to an inability to generate power from the lower body up and drive defenders. Just a sheer speed/power win from Ngakoue.
On a positive note, Ngakoue tried this same move again a few times later in the game and Shell was better prepared for it. He makes strong first contact this time, then gets underneath and showcases good balance to hold off Ngakoue’s power.
Here we’ll wrap up with Shell and transition into the next issue I’d like to discuss: the Jets cannot stop stunts for anything.
With the Shell, you can see him toasted by Dante Fowler with the inside spin move I mentioned earlier. Fowler beat him with this a trio of times. On the inside, Spencer Long has zero feel for the stunt as Malik Jackson flies through for a free sack. Back-to-back games allowing a sack for Long.
Another pressure on a stunt as Darnold is forced to throw it away. This time it’s on the right side against Shell and Winters. Abry Jones attacks the B gap eating up both as Dante Fowler runs free up the middle. The Jags also stunted on the left side but the Jets pick it up with 3 blockers against 2 rushers.
Here, the Jags run the same exact stunt on the offense’s right side. Winters picks it up correctly.
Kelvin Beachum wasn’t off the hook in this game, allowing three pressures of his own. This one is about as bad as it gets without any contact. It’s reminiscent of a Manu Ginobili eurostep. Yannick Ngakoue just gives one jab outside and is able to easily force Darnold outside of the pocket with a free lane inside.
Money throw by Darnold, by the way.
It’s fitting that the Jets allowed a safety in this game.
I’m indifferent to this play call as the Jets run an outside zone this far backed up. Brian Winters immediately hits the second level and lets the defensive tackle (#99 Marcell Dareus) leak into the backfield. It could be a personal blunder but I think this just might be his assignment on this play, which obviously doesn’t make sense.
The main culprit is Kelvin Beachum who lets Calais Campbell shoot the gap effortlessly. Poor blocking but a great play by a 6’8 man who is not supposed to be able to move like that.
Isaiah Crowell has had an appalling past couple of games in pass protection, allowing 3 pressures and a sack on his past 4 pass blocking snaps. That’s more total pressures allowed in two games than I’ve tagged the rest of the Jets skill position players for throughout the entire season combined.
This effort is embarrassing. There is literally nothing on display here that any coach would ever teach a running back to do while pass protecting.
The Jets are going to continue to be one of the league’s worst rushing teams (they are 26th in yards per game and yards per attempt) if their interior linemen keep getting blown off the ball like Winters does in the first clip and Long in the second.
To finish on a positive note, I’m becoming very impressed with Jordan Leggett’s blocking ability, which is a stunner. He scored his first career touchdown against the Jaguars, but perhaps more notable was his key block on Calais Campbell to facilitate the Jets’ only rushing first down of the game. I featured him last week assisting with a block on Myles Garrett.
The Jets did not even use an extra blocker for most of this game, while they consistently were beaten by 4-man rushes. I counted the Jets as using an extra blocker on only 5 snaps, and they still yielded pressure on 4 of those.
If your offensive line can’t keep the quarterback clean when it has the man advantage, that’s just another overarching issue, but I thought the Jets should have given Sam Darnold more protection in this game. This was the least they’ve used their backs and tight ends in pass protection, against an otherworldly front they were getting owned by. That was a bit of a head-scratcher.
Here is how the Jets are stacking up through one quarter of the year!
It’s tough - but who has been the best (or least bad) Jets offensive lineman so far?
This poll is closed