Eric Gray – © USA TODAY Sports
-Daniel Jones did not play, giving Tyrod Taylor his second start of the preseason. He stayed on the field for just 9 snaps. He was under pressure quickly, as the NYJ starting defense faced off against the backup NYG offensive line. He threw two deep balls up the right side to rookie Jalin Hyatt. One was inaccurate, landing out of bounds and the other was broken up by Sauce Gardner. Both were underthrown.
-Tommy DeVito: 19/29 – 210 yards / 1 TD – 1 INT / 84.0 RAT
DeVito played nearly the entire game. He is right up there with the league’s leaders in snaps by quarterbacks this preseason and has been one of team’s top pleasant surprises. The interception resulted in a pick-six for the Jets. It was a play that showed his inexperience. The Jets defense did not bite on a play fake, leaving multiple defenders in the intended passing lane to the backside. DeVito did not have his plan B on demand. He stared down the intention, hesitated before getting it out, and threw where he shouldn’t have. Sills did not run a great route either. Beyond that play, he put together another impressive performance. I went back and looked at some of my college summaries on him and found a couple of interesting parallels.
“…DeVito plays the position with unusual competitive energy. He needs to control it on the tempo throws that need to be layered over levels of the defense…he will struggle to make multiple reads from within the pocket… DeVito projects as a roster-hopeful but will likely bounce around practice squads because of the intriguing arm, but lack of development in his overall skill set”.
This kid has developed the skill set more than I thought he would at such an early stage. The issues are still there, but when I consider some of the recent third stringers NYG has employed (Davis Webb, Clayton Thorson, Kyle Lauletta), I look back at DeVito and come away with the fact this kid needs to be kept around. The question is, will it need to be on the 53?
-James Robinson, who did not make the final 53, saw the most action in a game since week 9 of last year while he was with the Jets. He had an impressive 55 yards on 10 carries including 41 yards after contact. He broke 5 tackles and ran with tremendous pop and pad level. He will be on a roster at some point this year. This was an important game for him.
-Eric Gray had another quiet game on the ground but his 48 yards on 4 catches (two of which he displayed ability to get to the ball away from his frame) were key. His hands were something I noted during the pre-draft process, very underrated component to his game. Throw in the fact they trust him on punt returns, this is where I think most of his value will be early on. But I did not see enough as a ball carrier as it looks like he hasn’t adjusted to the speed of the league yet.
-Jashaun Corbin’s final attempt to make an impression for the 53-man roster was quiet. He had just 6 yards on 6 carries and 2 catches for another 11 yards. The numbers game will likely land him on the practice squad, but he showed enough to warrant a spot if an injury pops up at running back.
-Jalin Hyatt got the start and was matched up against Sauce Gardner two times on plays where he ran deep routes. He was targeted both times, however both passes were not placed where they needed to be. But the positive I took from it was the fact he clearly had 2+ steps on the All-Pro corner on the first one. He then had a step on Gardner the second time, but he did not lengthen the separation because he had to gear down to track the underthrow. Gardner also got away with a little hold on that second one too. Hyatt won’t face a corner better than that, thus I took it as a significant positive.
-David Sills led the team with 81 yards and 6 catches, including a touchdown. He really is an impressive player during preseason, and he does a lot of the little things right. His ball skills are outstanding when it comes to framing the ball and getting through traffic. The issue, and it pops up every time he plays, is he can’t separate. The speed and quicks simply are not there and that is why he won’t ever be more than he is; a backup who gets stashed but will provide locker room and practice value.
-Jamison Crowder and Jaydon Mickens added 2 catches apiece. Crowder also got a look as a punt returner, reminding us there is some extra value he can add if he squeezes onto the roster. Wan’Dale Robinson’s end to the PUP list will likely coincide to Crowder being shown the door. That will likely happen this week.
-Lawrence Cager, who truly moves like a big wide receiver, caught all three of his targets for 24 yards. This is still a guy who is hard to peg in relation to the 53-man roster. He is a unique talent and I cannot imagine a scenario he where remains on the practice squad if he is placed there. Multiple teams will want him. The depth at receiver and lack of blocking impact may leave him off the roster though.
-Chris Myarick saw 11 snaps but was forced to leave early due to a hand injury. This opened the door for PS-hopeful Ryan Jones. He was on the field for 56 snaps. He added 2 more catches but also dropped one.
-With Tyre Phillips still unable to play as he rehabs his injury, Matt Peart and Korey Cunningham played the entire game. Peart started off as bad as it gets and ended with a line of 2 sacks, 2 pressures, and 2 penalties. The Jets pass rush is one of the best in football. What he put on tape over the first few drives is what I expect to see during live games if either Andrew Thomas or Evan Neal were to go down. The more I watch, the more important their health as a pair is vital to this team’s success. Peart did settle down after the first three drives; however that was against the third and fourth stringers. 147 of 148 preseason snaps were at left tackle, none were at right tackle. Does that really sound like the team’s swing tackle plan? I don’t think so. Cunningham on the other hand split time between right guard and right tackle. He allowed 2 pressures. I trust him as a backup more than I do Peart. The difference in balance, overall footwork, and sheer hustle is easy to see.
-Julién Davenport, who has 19 career starts in the league, appears to be near the end of his career. He showed terrible bend, inaccurate feet, and JV-caliber strength. He allowed a sack and a TFL in addition to 3 pressures. He was simply brought in to be a camp body and was the worst OL on the field in this game.
-This was a big game for Shane Lemieux. He had a solid start to preseason in week one, however the shift to OC in week 2 produced some ugly tape. He returned to guard and looked much more comfortable. I think he still has enough to offer at that spot. Does the fact he looks so much worse playing center significantly hurt his chances? NYG has a starter in Schmitz. They have a capable number two in Bredeson. Considering the lack of established depth inside, I still think it is worth keeping him around a bit longer. But it is safe to say, the four year starter at guard in college simply cannot be depended on to start plays with the ball in his hand. That could force him out.
-Marcus McKethan saw his first live game action against another team for the first time since being drafted in 2022. His size and strength were notable, but the two issues I had with him in college are still there. First, he plays way too high. The lack of knee bend at his size in combination with the lack of recovery quickness is going to make life very difficult as a zone blocker in the running game. He was slow to get across defenders laterally and the lack of consistency in his footwork created multiple early losses. He did settle in a bit and the upside he presents is worth keeping around, but part of me thinks he should be kept on the practice squad for the time being. He is not game-ready, not even close.
-Wyatt Davis was taken off the field on the cart with an ankle injury and Josh Ezeudu played just 8 snaps. I believe that will be the last we see of the former.
-Tomon Fox is going to be the number one backup on the edge for this team. He brings the power presence and versatility that the others do not. While he does not seem overly fluid in space, his hand-fighting and sheer power gets him a lot of wins initially. He had 2 tackles and 3 pressures. If he had just a little more juice, he could be a credible threat off the edge. But at the very least he can set the edge and grind his way to applying pressure. He still has some more to chew off when it comes to his upside too.
-Did any of Tashawn Bower, Oshane Ximines, or Habakkuk Baldonado show enough to warrant the final depth job at outside linebacker? Simply put, if they need another body outside, they will need to look at the cuts from around the league. Once cuts become public, I will write up a few suggestions. Ximines has the inside track because the staff did get some quality football out of him a year ago. He had a QB hit in this game, but we know what he is by this point. The depth can be better. Bower and Baldonado are practice squad options at best, as neither stood out in this game.
-Watching Leonard Williams, Dexter Lawrence, and A’Shawn Robinson stand next to each other on the sideline was a nice reminder. NYG will have the biggest starting defensive line in football.
-None of the above played, rightfully so. Rakeem Nunez-Roches got his first live snaps in the first quarter. He had one pressure and a tackle. He is a high energy, hustler type. It was not enough to fully evaluate his game but that is fine. We know what NYG has in him based on his previous years with Tampa Bay and he is here for depth. Speaking of depth, Jordon Riley played early on and was taken out to keep him fresh for week one against Dallas. Between him and starting a 6th rounder at outside corner, I can’t say I saw this coming at all. Snap your finger and NYG all the sudden is loaded with depth along the defensive front. If they all stick and stay healthy, the rewards that stem from that will be huge.
-Once again, the trio of Kevin Atkins, Donovan Jeter, and Brandin Bryant failed to maintain gap integrity against the run, and none made an impact as a pass rusher. Kobe Smith added 2 tackles and is the one I want to see kept on the practice squad.
-While he only played 6 snaps, the story of the night was the newly acquired Isaiah Simmons. The 8th overall pick from the 2020 defense was purchased for a 7th rounder in next spring’s draft. I will touch on this more below, but this move could change the defense in a big way. He had a pressure and a missed tackle, spending most of his time lined up on the line of scrimmage.
-Carter Coughlin may have had a job secured on the 53-man roster before camp, maybe he did not. His play through the three games stood out to me, especially in this one. He had 2 TFL where he displayed excellent diagnosing and reaction speed. The angles to the ball carrier, the power presence upon contact with his target, and ability to finish were all impressive. Throw in his special teams prowess, he is a near lock to make this team.
-Game two for Darrian Beavers ended with just one tackle and some struggle to get to the action clean. He appears to be just a step slow post-snap and throw in some hip tightness; he just can’t get to point B fast enough yet. His contributions will be on special teams early, but he does have some potential as a package defender when they want to use the blitz on passing downs. Remember, he played all over the defensive front seven in college.
-This game was the final effort for several back-end corners to potentially swallow up the last spot on the cornerback depth chart. This is the one huge question mark on this entire team that many I have spoken to on the outside are focused on. Some NYG fans are excited about the future of the first rounder Deonte Banks and the surprise of camp, Tre Hawkins. Perhaps they will be cornerstone players down the road. 2023? The fact they are so easily put into starting roles should easily tell us something about the position group as a whole.
-Gemon Green, Darren Evans, and Amani Oruwariye all allowed 100+ passer ratings. As a trio, Jets passers went 15/19 for 169 yards and 2 touchdowns against them. Oruwariye likely gets the nod (if any of them) because of his veteran experience, and he continued to show he is the best tackler and most physical of the three. Zyon Gilbert left the game early with an injury after struggling against NYJ first stringers as well.
-A razor thin group of corners with not one but TWO rookies starting is about as risky as it gets in today’s NFL on the back end. Darnay Holmes played in the first half and will likely keep his spot as a rotational nickel. The staff still likes the 2024 free agent.
-Remember – NYG made two pickups off the street/waivers (Fabian Moreau / Nick McCloud) around this time last year. I get a sense we will see that kind of move again.
-I was looking forward to seeing some more Bobby McCain against the starting Jets offense. He took a cheap shot from Randall Cobb that left him concussed, thus playing just 2 snaps.
-Rookies Alex Cook and Gervarrius Owens played most of the game on the back end. They finished with 6 and 5 tackles, respectively. Owens added a QB hit. There is something about him I see that is different, to be blunt. This is always a dangerous thing to say in any sort of scouting assignment. But looking at his snap alignments through 3 games (23 snaps on the line, 41 in the box, 56 at FS, 23 outside the box), zero missed tackles, just one allowed reception, and just the gut feeling I have. Owens is going to be a big part this defense at some point.
-K Graham Gano: 3/3 (made 57, 40, 56)
-P Jamie Gillan: 5 punts / 49.2 avg / 44.0 net
-WR David Sills, LB Carter Coughlin, K Graham Gano
-OT Julién Davenport, CB Germon Green, DT Brandin Bryant
3 THOUGHTS ON NYJ
1. We’ve seen this before. Preseason hype around the Jets because of offseason acquisitions. We’ve even seen it with a future Hall of Famer coming to town from Green Bay when Brett Favre arrived in 2008 (they went 9-7 and missed the playoffs). Intra-city rivalry aside, I think this time is different for two reasons. Favre in 2008 had one of the worst seasons of his career and the supporting cast just wasn’t there. He did go on to MIN the next year, winning a playoff game. They had a top 5 defense and an All-Pro running back, however. Bring that back to Rodgers. He won the MVP in 2020 and 2021. He is on a team with a top 5 defense and the 2022 Offensive AND Defensive Rookies of the Year. Running back Breece Hall would have been a contender for that award that Garrett Wilson (man I wanted him in the ’22 draft) won. Point is this situation is set up well for Rodgers coming to NY. This team is going to the playoffs.
2. What is the one factor that can easily derail my projection? Like most teams, the offensive line. The issue they have, that several others do not, is the fact this group is not established yet. Everyone knows this is where they are potentially weak. Everyone knows this is how you minimize the benefit of adding Rodgers to the offense. Mekhi Becton is the NYJ version of Evan Neal. If he does not step up (and stay healthy) – the path to the peak is going to be filled with roadblocks.
3. Garrett Wilson. I am not huge into fantasy football, but I am very much aware how big of a market it is. For those who play (and have not drafted yet) – I am looking at him the same way I look at Justin Jefferson right now. I said it back when NYG was drafting #5 and #7 in 2022, and I am saying it now, this kid is going to be a production machine.
1. The cornerback and edge group need help. Isaiah Simmons may alter my opinion a bit, but because of the hybrid-ness to his role, I still think the front office will need to try and find another guy who can factor out there. Does a blitz-heavy scheme make it less than vital? Sure. But let’s keep in mind what this team is doing at corner. It would be a huge deal to find a pass rusher who shakes loose in the coming days. And as I said earlier, this corner group is an injury away from playing guys that do not belong in every down duty. If you think you’re a contender to win 10-11 games, that needs to be addressed.
2. The Isaiah Simmons trade. I said back in 2020 that whoever drafts him needs a specific plan. Not to force him into roles, but force roles around him. Be patient, develop. Hide the weaknesses (he has a few), exemplify his strengths. After watching the current NYG coaching staff work for a year-plus and knowing some behind the scenes things about the ARI organization, this move can be an absolute game changer or the team. I see a Derwin James type more than a Micah Parsons. Not the same caliber (yet), but the same kind of role. It will take a few weeks, but at the very least this kid can impact the pass rush. I’ve always wanted to see him rush the passer more. He has 239 rushes over his career with 32 pressures. The rate of 13.4% would be right up there with the top 20 edge rushers in football if sustained for a season.
3. My prediction for the 2023 season is 11 wins. The increase in weapons for the offense and year two of one of the top coaching staffs in football are the two key reasons. They have a kicker who will win games in close matchups. They have a better offensive line than what was put out there in 2022. Their best player is hungry on a prove-it deal. They have year-2 players (where we see the biggest gains in margin in guys) playing key spots. They have a credible inside linebacker who the scheme needs. Their depth is twice as good as it was a year ago. And most importantly I expect a step up a notch by the quarterback being in the same system with real talent and innovative minds calling the shots. They’re not on par with the Eagles yet, but they’re gaining ground and the entire organization is hungry. It feels different.
Here is my prediction for the 53:
QB (2): Daniel Jones, Tyrod Taylor
RB (4): Saquon Barkley, Matt Breida, Eric Gray, Gary Brightwell
WR (6): Isaiah Hodgins, Darius Slayton, Paris Campbell, Jalin Hyatt, Sterling Shepard, Wan’Dale Robinson
TE (3): Darren Waller, Daniel Bellinger, Tommy Sweeney
OT (4): Andrew Thomas, Evan Neal, Tyre Phillips, Matt Peart
OG (4): Mark Glowinski, Ben Bredeson, Joshua Ezeudu, Marcus McKethan
OC (1): John Michael-Schmitz
EDGE (4): Kayvon Thibodeaux, Azeez Ojulari, Jihad Ward, Tomon Fox
DT (6): Dexter Lawrence, Leonard Williams, A’Shawn Robinson, Rakeem Nunez-Roches, Jordon Riley, D.J. Davidson
LB (5): Bobby Okereke, Micah McFadden, Darian Beavers, Carter Coughlin, Isaiah Simmons
CB (5): Adoree’ Jackson, Deonte Banks, Tre Hawkins, Darnay Holmes, Cor’Dale Flott
S (6): Xavier McKinney, Jason Pinnock, Dane Belton, Bobby McCain, Gervarrius Owens, Nick McCloud
ST (3): Graham Gano, Jamie Gillan, Casey Kreiter
PUP: CB Aaron Robinson
WR Jamison Crowder
OT Korey Cunningham
OG Shane Lemieux
TE Lawrence Cager
RB Jashaun Corbin
ED Oshane Ximines
DL Ryder Anderson
LB Cam Brown