A New York Jets defense desperate for some ferocity in the trenches got a couple of encouraging performances from Jordan Jenkins and John Franklin-Myers.
Jenkins’ role was mysteriously small in Week 1. He played only 31 defensive snaps, a 36% portion, his smallest slice of the action since his 2016 rookie season (save for games exited due to injury). Jordan Willis (35), Kyle Phillips (41), and Tarell Basham (47) each out-snapped Jenkins, while Frankie Luvu (21) only got 10 fewer snaps.
In Week 2, Gregg Williams put Jenkins back into a featured role. Jenkins led the team’s outside linebackers with 41 snaps, a 67% portion.
With the increase in playing time, Jenkins put forth a solid game. He posted three run stops, a stop for no gain on a dump-off pass, a quarterback hit, and a sack.
Firstly, let’s take a look at the sack. This is not your typical sack, making it misleading in the box score in terms of what it says about Jenkins’ raw pass-rushing impact, but it’s still a great display of discipline that shuts down a play. The 49ers fake a counter run in an attempt to set up a tight end screen. Jenkins avoids pursuing the running back and maintains his place on the edge, forcing Nick Mullens to eat the ball for a sack.
Nothing amazing there (which, again, makes the sack a bit too much credit for what he actually did), but a good play.
Each of Jenkins’ other five notable plays were more impressive than the sack. In a four-point stance from a wide 5-tech alignment, Jenkins destroys the right tackle (Mike McGlinchey) with a club-swim move to get home for a hit on Jimmy Garoppolo. Unfortunately, Garoppolo gets the ball out quickly for a first down (Blessuan Austin and Ashtyn Davis make things worse with missed tackles), but it takes nothing away from a great rush rep by Jenkins.
This play was called back due to a hold on San Francisco, but Jenkins makes a good tackle in a game where the Jets defense had very few of them. Jenkins drops into coverage as the 49ers fake a split zone, and he closes on Tevin Coleman for a strong finish that results in no gain.
It was in the run game where Jenkins was the most active. In a four-point stance as the 6-tech (across from the tight end), Jenkins is responsible for the B-gap. He establishes a strong, low pad level and bulls the left guard into the backfield, taking away the edge and forcing Coleman to cut upfield. Jenkins sheds and teams up with Williams for the tackle.
Jenkins contributes to a timely stop near the goal line. As the play side 9-tech (outside of tight end), Jenkins prepares to take on a pulling block, but it never comes. He adjusts and pursues the play from behind, leaping and grabbing Coleman by the shoulders to pull him down for a two-yard gain on 1st & Goal from the 6-yard line.
Let’s take a look at the same play from a different perspective. Check out Steve McLendon at the nose. He holds his ground tremendously, allowing no upfield movement and even creating a tad of penetration. This leads to the pulling right guard tripping over the center, which leaves Jenkins unblocked to make the play.
McLendon making under-the-radar impact plays like that one has been among the few positive constants in the world of Jets football.
Back to Jenkins. As the play side defensive end outside of the superstar left tackle Trent Williams, Jenkins gets good penetration to force Raheem Mostert to extend the run a bit before cutting upfield. Jenkins then sheds the block and makes an excellent tackle to limit yardage after contact, grabbing Mostert by the shoulder and throwing him down.
A classic Jenkins performance, featuring plenty of gritty stops with a couple of pass-rushing flashes sprinkled in.
I have been intrigued to watch Franklin-Myers ever since the Jets picked him up prior to the 2019 season. He offers legitimate pass-rushing upside to a Jets roster that has almost none of it.
The former Ram, who is still only 23 years old (he will turn 24 on Saturday), impressed as a rookie in 2018 with a pressure rate of 12.4% that ranked at the 71st percentile among qualified edge defenders. A pass-rush specialist who was sent after the quarterback on 75.6% of his defensive snaps, Franklin-Myers stripped the ball loose on two of his three rookie-year sacks, one of which was on Tom Brady in Super Bowl LIII. He offered the capability to make noise at both defensive end and defensive tackle.
We finally got to see Franklin-Myers on Sunday, and he delivered plenty of promise in his debut.