Aug 282018
 
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Ray-Ray Armstrong, New York Giants (August 24, 2018)

Ray-Ray Armstrong – © USA TODAY Sports

New York Giants 22 – New York Jets 16

QUICK RECAP

Week 3 of the preseason is usually perceived to be the closest thing to a real game as we will see before kickoff weekend. Eli Manning was back on the field and played preseason-high 34 snaps, but his star playmakers Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley remained on the sidelines. The Jets on the other hand, sent out their shiny new toy, rookie Sam Darnold, as the starting quarterback as the team tries to figure out what to do at the position week 1.

The Jets took control of the game early, using an 11-play drive to put up their first 7 points of the night via a Bilal Powell touchdown run. After a back and forth exchange that left with NYG winning the field position battle, Hunter Sharp returned a punt for a 55 yard touchdown. It was a precursor for how poorly the Jets’ special teams would play the rest of the night, an ongoing problem for the team so far this preseason.

The Jets then took the lead back early in the second quarter on a Darnold pass to newly signed Terrelle Pryor. This was after a red zone fumble by NYG veteran Jonathan Stewart, whom has had a nightmare-ish start to his career with Big Blue. NYG then settled down and scored on their next four drives, all field goals off the foot of Aldrick Rosas, the clear front-runner for the job. The Jets continued to shoot themselves in the foot with penalties and mental mistakes. NYG took a 19-13 lead into halftime.

Backups dominated the playing time from there on out, as the two teams struggled to string together long drives. It wasn’t until halfway through the fourth quarter where the Jets had a 7+ play drive, as Teddy Bridgewater continued to impress. They were able to get it within 6, but the Giants held off their cross-town rivals 22-16 for the win.

QUARTERBACKS

Eli Manning: 17/23 – 188 yards – 0 TD/0 INT. After sitting out last week in Detroit, Manning was back on the field for what is likely to be his last full dress rehearsal. It was the best version of Manning we have seen in quite some time. Comfortable and confident in the pocket, accurate on all levels, and able to spread it around. The lack of Jets pass rush ability helped, but Manning made some big throws that gave me assurance for this year. He still has it. He did under throw the deep balls a tad, but nothing to be alarmed about. He really does remind me of his brother, Peyton, late in his career with DEN. He may not be able to adjust quickly on the move and he won’t drive the ball downfield like he used to, but he is more than capable of getting the job done.

Davis Webb: 5/11 – 73 yards – 0 TD/0 INT. Webb was in for about a third of the offensive plays. He did get some action against the first team Jets defense. He didn’t do anything to hurt or help himself too much. Very nice touch throw to Russell Shepard on a 3rd and 12 but he also held onto the ball too long in the pocket which resulted in a sack. When Webb has everything lined up, he really is an attractive thrower. It could be much worse when it comes to the backup QBs in this league.

RUNNING BACKS

Jonathan Stewart: 3 att – -7 yards – 0 TD. That isn’t a typo, Stewart finished with negative seven yards. He also fumbled inside the NYJ 10-yard line that Leonard Williams almost returned for a touchdown. I don’t want to write him off after poor preseason performances (10 carries for -5 yards) but he is moving like he has cinderblocks attached to his feet. Lethargic and unable.

Wayne Gallman: 11 att – 23 yards / 4 rec – 19 yards. Gallman continues to impress with his quickness, vision, and explosion. He also had a couple nice blitz pickups in pass protection. There was a stretch in the 3rd quarter where he touched the ball 7 out of 8 plays. He really does have the versatility to be a factor in any kind of situation. Some backup RBs in the league are valuable in only specific situations, but Gallman can bring a lot of options to this offense in any situation.

Juhrell Pressley – 13 att / 71 yards. Signed earlier in the week, Pressley stepped on the field in a NYG uniform for the first time and impressed. I think there is one, maybe even two, spots on the depth chart available at RB. Pressley runs bigger than his size and showed impressive vision and decision making in his debut. I expect him to get a lot of touches in week 4.

WIDE RECEIVERS

-Sterling Shepard: 7 rec / 78 yards. I’ll say this right now. If Shepard stays healthy this year, he is going to produce, big time. The attention to detail he shows as a route runner combined with his top-tier quick twitch and stop/go explosion is as dangerous as any slot receiver in the NFL. And yes, I mean that. He made a couple of high-level catches, showing improved ball skills and ability in traffic.

-Cody Latimer: 1 Rec / 54 yards. Latimer hasn’t been used much in preseason, but he took in the longest play of the night via a deep ball from Manning. He really blew by Morris Claiborne and if Eli put that just a little further downfield, it would have been a TD.

-I am still holding onto the idea that Russell Shepard is going to make this team as the number four or five receiver. His experience in the slot and outside gives him the needed versatility and he is a factor on special teams as gunner. In addition, he made another tough catch for a first down in the 3rd quarter that I simply don’t think the other potential backups could have made. Hunter Sharp continues to struggle with drops and despite impressive athletic and return ability; he may be playing his way out of a job. He did return a punt for a touchdown though. Alonzo Russell brought in a 47 yard catch, displaying size and strength. Roger Lewis continues to show why he is near the bottom of the depth chart.

TIGHT END

-Evan Engram: 3 rec / 23 yards. His night was short, as on the 5th drive he was sandwiched between two Jets defenders and was popped in the head. He left the game with a concussion for the second year in a row. Like Shepard, Engram is going to be as tough a matchup as there is at the position on 3rd downs. Losing him for any time would be devastating.

-Rhett Ellison also left the game early with migraine issues, opening the door for Jerell Adams and Scott Simonson. Adams was the second most targeted receiver on the night, finishing with 3 catches and 12 yards. Simonson’s avenue to make this team is via blocking, but he didn’t grade out well in this one. He allowed a sack and two tackles. Adams may get this number three spot by default unless someone shakes free during cut down period around the league.

OFFENSIVE LINE

-Great night for the left side of the line, especially in pass protection. Nate Solder neutralized everything that was sent his way. Will Hernandez had quiet night (other than a holding penalty) in a good way and looks more comfortable than he did the previous two weeks. With a rookie that is likely to start week 1, that is all you can ask for.

-Ereck Flowers wasn’t matched up against any plus-pass rushers but he did a fine job. He allowed 1 pressure. Patrick Omameh continues to struggle, he just seems heavy and delayed off the snap. He struggled moving to his left, allowing 2 pressures and a tackle for loss. I haven’t seen anything that makes me think he deserves the starting job hands down other than a lack of intra-team competition.

-Another position that may need further examining is center. Brett Jones outplayed Jon Halapio, more notably in the run game. We know that Jones struggles in pass protection and he isn’t one of the new regime’s “guys”, but I trust him more than Halapio. Better movement off the ball and a more consistent level of play. (Note: This was written PRIOR to the trade).

-Chad Wheeler has not taken a step forward this year. His footwork is very poor even though he carries plus-athleticism. He is playing way too off balanced and top heavy. Nick Becton, on the other hand, continues to progress.

EDGE

-Kerry Wynn continues to be the MVP of preseason football. He recorded another sack, a tackle for loss, and 2 QB pressures. He is bringing the heat from all angles against different kinds of blockers. The versatility he brings is huge.

-Olivier Vernon and Kareem Martin both had quiet nights despite playing half the snaps. Martin needs to be a rotational player and if he ends up being one of the feature guys, this pass rush is in trouble. He doesn’t jump the snap and his adjustments take too long.

-Lorenzo Carter doesn’t seem ready for impact play, but I do like how disciplined he is with his techniques and the mental side of the game. It’s important players follow the progression of learning the scheme, consistently do things right, then catch up to the speed of the game. His athleticism is there, but it is going to take time for him to play fast and strong. He finished with a half-sack and 2 assisted tackles.

-Are Avery Moss and Romeo Okwara competing for a last edge spot on this team? If so, I think Okwara wins because he has more inside-outside versatility and brings more upside to the table as an athlete. Moss moved well post-snap, but he doesn’t adjust to blockers with enough power. Weak hands and gets pushed back against the run too easily.

DEFENSIVE TACKLES

-Damon Harrison pushed the Jets’ interior blockers where he wanted. He has been shutting down the opposing running games each week and I expect to see more of the same. Not only does he have superior physical presence, but he plays smart. His first step post-snap are almost always productive in that he reads the action instantly.

-Fellow starters Dalvin Tomlinson and rookie B.J. Hill had solid nights as well. More of the same from these two. Tomlinson was a little more active, finishing with a TFL and knockdown. If he is going to be more than a solid player, his pass rush repertoire needs to lengthen. Not looking down on him at all here; he is going to be a part of a very stout run defense. But what he does against the pass right now is limited.

-Josh Mauro had an active night. He has looked better and better each week and it will be adding fuel to the fire on this defensive line when he comes back after his suspension. He finished with 4 tackles, a half sack, and a knockdown. I can’t say this enough, he along with fellow backup Robert Thomas are going to make this defensive front one of the best run defending groups in the league.

LINEBACKERS

-Alec Ogletree finished with 3 tackles, 1 for a loss. He wasn’t tested in coverage much. B.J. Goodson was, however, and he just can’t hang in space with receivers that are crossing the field. I don’t expect him to run with those guys, but he hasn’t showed the anticipation that is needed.

-This brings me to a thought I have had for a couple weeks. After another impressive showing by Ray-Ray Armstrong, is there a chance he takes a hold of that starting spot at some point? He is a much better athlete and his progress as a run defender continues to stand out. He has been making good reads and working his way through traffic, two things he struggled with last year. I think there is more flexibility with Armstrong than there is with Goodson. Something to look for.

-Mark Herzlich and Tae Davis got a lot of action in the second half. Herzlich has been quietly effective. He does a lot of dirty work but he has also been covering a lot of ground in coverage. He was excellent in zone defense.

CORNERBACKS

-Eli Apple saw a lot of playing time, leading the team in snaps. He had an up and down night, recording a pass break up but also getting flagged for holding. The handsy-corner has been showing more of the same. Impressive ability and interesting potential but he just can’t seem to put together a quality game from start to finish. B.W. Webb allowed the Jets touchdown pass on a crossing route to Terrelle Pryor. Just late to read and couldn’t catch up.

-Donte Deayon saw his first action of the preseason. He finished with 4 tackles but also missed one in space. I like the heart he plays with, but he just gets pushed around too much and I think he will be a liability as a tackler. In an aggressive scheme where you will see a lot of 1-on-1 matchups with the corners, that worries me.

SAFETIES

-Landon Collins is playing with great lateral range. Think of this run defense clogging the middle with their line then Collins going unblocked to the sidelines. Just another reason why I think this defense will be elite against the run which will be important in this division.

-Curtis Riley appears to have the spot locked up next to Collins. The hamstring injury to Darian Thompson continues to keep him off the field and Andrew Adams doesn’t appear to be in the running. Michael Thomas is a fine rotational player who will be a factor on special teams. He is tough and productive in the box. Do any of these guys make plays against deep passing? That is another fear I have with this defense that lacks a superior pass rush.

SPECIALISTS

-K Aldrick Rosas: 4/4 (Made 48, 40, 27, 21). Rosas has been getting the opportunities and passing with flying colors. If he can maintain his consistency, I bet he ends up being one of the highest scoring kickers in the league.

-K Marshall Koehn: 1/1 (Made 44). Nice security blanket to have but as long as Rosas is kicking them straight, Koehn won’t be here in a couple weeks.

-P Riley Dixon: 5 punts – 41.0 avg / 33.3 net. Had a few opportunities to pin them tight but he put 2 in the end zone.

3 STUDS

-WR Sterling Shepard, DE Kerry Wynn, K Aldrick Rosas

3 DUDS

-OG Patrick Omameh, OLB Kareem Martin, RB Jonathan Stewart

3 THOUGHTS ON NYJ

-The commentators said this a couple time on Friday and I am sure a few more will repeat it during the season. The Darnold vs. Barkley debate is going to be a thing for their entire careers respectively. I hate that, personally. Two different systems and situations. Two different positions. Regardless, Darnold has gotten a lot of playing time in these first 3 weeks of preseason and nothing has made me think he would have been a better pick than Barkley.

-The Jets may be historically bad when it comes to the pass rush. I’m not only judging their preseason performance here, either. Their personnel, or lack thereof, really stands out. Combine that with a scheme that is overly reliant on blitzing to bring 5+ defenders to the passer, it is just a recipe for a disaster.

-When QB Teddy Bridgewater was coming out of Louisville, I didn’t have the franchise QB grade on him. Good college player and a great intangibles kid, but I didn’t see it. To me, the glaring weakness was a lack of physical presence and a body type that screamed injuries. I still feel that way even though he has had a few nice preseason performances against backups. I think he is an easy kid to root for, thus it sways the overall view on him as a QB.

3 CLOSING THOUGHTS

-Speaking of the poor NYJ pass rush, I was really pleased with the pocket Eli Manning had to work with. When his confidence and assurance is there, he looks like he has more than enough left in the tank. Give him this Shurmur offense that can take advantage of Manning’s mental capacity and pass-versatility, I think this is going to be the best NYG offense we have seen in a long time.

-Three weeks of preseason football and I still think the OC/RG situation has a ways to go in terms of being figured out. The trading of Brett Jones to MIN has all but handed the job to Halapio with John Greco as the primary backup, but as previously mentioned I think that job should still be very much up in the air. And we may have to go back to John Jerry at RG if Omameh doesn’t step it up.

-The next biggest worry of this team resides in the defensive backfield. If the pass rush doesn’t generate a lot of pressure to a point where the QB needs to rush through progressions, I’m just not confident this team can cover. The LBs have been getting torched in the middle of the field, Eli Apple appears to the same thing we have watched in recent years, and the group of below average cover men behind him won’t scare anyone.

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David Syvertsen

David Syvertsen, aka Sy'56, has worked for Ourlads Scouting LLC since 2013, starting off as a college depth chart manager and now a lead scout for one the most-sold NFL draft guides year-in, year-out. He has been scouting for over 10 years and will compile anywhere from 400-600 scouting reports per season, with that number increasing year by year. He watches and studies game films 20-25 hours per week throughout the entire year with his main focus being NFL Draft prospects.

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