We’ve made it! The season finale!
Following each Jets game this season, I’ve been participating in the post-game tradition of listing out the studs and duds of the Jets’ previous game — but with a new twist.
Each player listed, whether they were a stud or a dud, is capable of earning up to five points positively or negatively, depending on how good or bad their performance was. In total, the scores of each player listed will add up to match the Jets’ scoring margin from their game that week. This past Sunday, the Jets beat the Bills by 7 points, so the combined point total of every player listed below will add up to 7.
Now that we have reached the end of the season, I’m hoping this scorecard system will help us get a good look at which players had the biggest impacts on the team, both positive and negative.
As an added note, no coaches (or general managers) will be or have been involved in these lists.
The studs earn the privileges of having some nice colors attached to their name, while the duds merely get tagged with various levels of badness.
- Studs: Gotham Green (5 points), Platinum (4), Gold (3), Silver (2), Bronze (1)
- Duds: Level 5 (-5 points), Level 4 (-4), etc.
Here are my studs and duds from the Jets’ Week 17 victory.
Tarell Basham - Gold (3 points)
Basham capped off a strong final quarter of the season with four pressures, two pass deflections, a run stuff, and a fumble recovery against Buffalo. One of the pass deflections was an impressive strip-sack on Matt Barkley that was overturned to an incomplete pass (which seemed to be the incorrect call).
Over the last four weeks of the season, Basham collected 10 pressures, six run stuffs, two pass deflections (one of those a should-be strip-sack), an interception, a fumble recovery, and a punt block. Basham led the Jets with 39 pressures on the year. That ranked just 62nd in the league, which showcases how desperately the Jets need to upgrade their edge rush, but Basham proved himself to be a strong depth piece at the least.
Jamison Crowder - Silver (2 points)
Crowder grabbed 8/10 targets for 66 yards and a touchdown, adding three more first downs. It capped off a solid season of production for Crowder: 122 targets (career-high), 78 receptions (career-high), 41 first downs (career-high), 833 yards (second-best), and six touchdowns (second-best). He was as-advertised, going through some cold stretches and dropping some easy ones, but making up for it with excellent hot streaks and a wide array of superb grabs.
Crowder finished the season ranked fourth in receptions (58), fifth in touchdowns (5), and ninth in yards (648) out of the slot. His deal is a nice value for the Jets, and he is a player that will be great to have around Sam Darnold in the years to come. One of Darnold’s biggest issues has been his over-aggressiveness on third down, as he often shoots too far down the field and passes up on easy conversions available to him underneath. In 2019, Crowder was usually the victim of these gunslinging shots, watching the ball sail downfield as he sat wide open for first downs. If Darnold makes the leap in 2020, it will largely be because of an increased willingness to use the short range and move the chains on third down. Crowder is the perfect player to help Darnold bolster that facet of his game.
Jordan Jenkins - Silver (2 points)
Jenkins registered a strip-sack, sniffed out a screen and stopped it for a five-yard loss, and batted down a pass at the line. He finished with a career-high eight sacks in just 14 games, but collected only 31 pressures, which tied for 87th in the league.
Jamal Adams - Bronze (1 point)
Adams had three pressures, one of which helped lead to Jenkins’ strip-sack. He also notched an impressive first down-saving pass deflection in coverage against Tyler Kroft, and did not allow a single first down over 29 snaps in coverage.
Steve McLendon - Bronze (1 point)
McLendon picked up a pair of run stuffs, each for a loss of two yards, and also made a dominant play against Cody Ford that created another run stop that was finished off by Arthur Maulet. This play is an excellent example of how defensive tackles can make a huge impact without getting any box score credit, while linebackers and defensive backs steal credit in the box score without actually doing much at all. McLendon’s victory prevents Ford from getting to the second level and blocking Burgess, who is able to run into the backfield untouched.
Brian Poole - Bronze (1 point)
Poole allowed two catches for seven yards and one first down over 29 snaps in coverage. He shot into the backfield to blow up a screen pass for a five-yard loss (a tackle finished off by Jenkins), and also made an excellent tackle in the backfield for a seven-yard loss on a pitch play, seen below. Henry Anderson plowed over wide receiver Duke Williams to clear the lane for Poole.
Poole allowed 0.57 yards per cover snap out of the slot, best among qualified cornerbacks. The one-year, $3 million deal he signed was one of the absolute best free agent deals the Jets have made in recent memory.
It is far from a guarantee that Poole will maintain this level of play going forward, especially considering that he had his breakout on a one-year deal with free agent money at stake. The Jets have fallen victim to breakout seasons in contract years plenty of times before. However, given their barren status at outside cornerback, the Jets can hardly afford to add the slot corner position as another hole that needs filling. Re-signing Poole would be a gamble, but it is a must nonetheless.
Nathan Shepherd - Bronze (1 point)
Shepherd had a run stuff for a one-yard loss, showed good hustle to help hold a third down screen pass to a one-yard gain, and created the initial pressure that led to Jenkins’ strip-sack.
I was skeptical that any sort of major progression would be possible for Shepherd, who is already 26 years old, but he made major strides under Gregg Williams. Among interior defensive linemen, Shepherd rose from 59th in pass-rush productivity as a rookie to 18th in 2019, and from 128th in run-stop percentage to 72nd. He remains an iffy run defender, sometimes over-shooting and missing a few tackles, but he was much more active against the run this year after being non-existent as a rookie. Shepherd showed intermittent flashes of his immense pass rush potential as a rookie, and with Williams allowing him to shoot gaps more aggressively, he largely fulfilled that potential, producing pressure at an excellent rate.
The defensive line is absolutely stacked.
Daniel Brown - Level 1
Brown was obliterated for an allowed sack on Darnold.
Blocking at the tight end position was a major problem for the Jets this season. The chart below showcases pass-blocking and run-blocking numbers for each team’s tight end group (this was put together prior to Week 17). As shown by the data, the Jets suffered from extremely woeful blocking at the tight end position, both in pass protection and the run game. With Week 17 included, Jets tight ends wound up tying the Lions for the most pressures allowed (17). The Jets also ranked last in yards per attempt, first down rate, and yards before contact per attempt on rushes directed outside of the tight end.
Trevon Wesco was a disappointment, while Ryan Griffin and Brown were predictably poor. The return of a healthy Chris Herndon, who developed into an average-level blocker late in his rookie season, would be a solid boon. A second-year leap from Wesco would be huge, but I think the Jets should be proactive here and sign a proven blocking tight end. This is a facet where the Jets performed at a league-worst level, and it should be prioritized accordingly.
James Burgess - Level 1
Burgess made nine tackles and picked up an interception. However, he also missed three tackles, and allowed eight catches for 75 yards and three first downs in coverage (with two targets being dropped).
Burgess would probably be an upgrade as a starter for some teams, and if he is a backup for the Jets next year, he has proven that he would be one of the best backup inside linebackers in the NFL. At the same time, there is no doubting that the returns of C.J. Mosley and Avery Williamson would be tremendous upgrades for the Jets over what they got out of the expensive duo’s replacements in 2019.
Sam Darnold - Level 2
It was a rough finish to the season for Darnold, who struggled a bit with downfield accuracy and put the ball into dangerous positions a few too many times.
Here is a look at the scorecard for Week 17.
And here it is, the final Studs & Duds scorecard for the 2019 New York Jets!
Fittingly, winning the Scorecard MVP by a landslide is the man who was also named team MVP as voted on by the players, and was named the team’s lone Pro Bowler. Jamal Adams!