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Blake Cashman needs to take a huge step forward | New York Jets training camp primer

Blake Cashman
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Blake Cashman showcased interesting potential in 2019, but his overall performance left a lot to be desired.

New York Jets training camp primers:

Here’s everything you need to know about Blake Cashman as he aims to take a Year 2 leap and provide reliable depth at the linebacker position.

Four positive stats to maintain

Click-and-close finishing

Cashman was credited with allowing an average of only 7.5 yards per reception, which placed at the 90th percentile among off-ball linebackers.

That was due to Cashman’s productivity when coming downhill out of zone coverages in the middle of the field. With his ability to fire out of his stance and hit top speed in a hurry, Cashman is capable of making some strong tackles in space – when he reads the action correctly.

Run game tackling

While Cashman struggled mightily to actually find the ball as a run defender (more on that later), he did a solid job of wrapping up and finishing when he did get involved in the play. Cashman recorded 19 tackles against the run while flubbing only one attempt, a miss rate of 5.0% that ranked at the 80th percentile among qualified linebackers.

Pass-rush upside / versatility

Gregg Williams clearly had an affinity for Cashman’s pass-rushing abilities, as the rookie was frequently sent after the quarterback. Cashman was used as a pass-rusher on 9.9 snaps per game, which was the highest total among the Jets’ off-ball linebackers.

Cashman’s pressure rate of 12.3% ranked sixth-best out of 16 qualified front-seven players on the Jets defense. However, that rate only landed Cashman at just 52nd-best out of 82 linebackers in the league.

It should be noted, though, that many of Cashman’s rush reps came off the edge rather than as a blitzer, which would lower his expected efficiency compared to the average linebacker.

Williams’ confidence in Cashman’s ability to man the edge is an intriguing sign of versatility. Perhaps Cashman’s future lies on the outside?

Special teams

Cashman earned a special teams grade of 73.8 from Pro Football Focus, which ranked way up at the 91st percentile among 1,018 qualified special teams players league-wide. Cashman’s best work came as a blocker for the kickoff return unit, which is where he played 40 of his 64 special teams snaps.

Two negative stats to improve

Run defense

PFF scored Cashman with a run defense grade of 42.5, which ranked all the way down at the 10th percentile among qualified linebackers. He struggled mightily with reading his keys, took poor angles, and had a rough time shedding blocks. Many of the longest runs allowed by the Jets in the first half of the season were due to a mishap by Cashman.

Missed tackles in the passing game

While his athleticism allowed him to make solid plays when everything clicked, Cashman was a bit too prone to missed tackles in coverage. Cashman made 21 tackles in the passing game while botching four, a miss rate of 16.0%, which ranked at the 35th percentile among qualified linebackers.

Three plays that showcase Cashman’s ceiling

In man coverage on the running back, Cashman takes an accurate angle to the flat and finishes cleanly to create a one-yard loss. This is a bright flash of the underneath finishing ability that helped Cashman allow such a minimal yards-per-reception average – which may well be his core positive trait in the NFL.

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