John Franklin-Myers‘ continued hot streak, Brian Poole‘s improved play, and more key advanced analytics on the New York Jets defense.
John Franklin-Myers just keeps producing
After three excellent games of pressure production to kick off his Jets career, Franklin-Myers got into the sack column for the first time against Arizona. He notched an 11-yard takedown of Kyler Murray with a clean club/swim move on Cardinals right guard J.R. Sweezy.
Franklin-Myers added one hurry on Sunday for a total of two pressures over 20 pass-rush snaps, a solid rate of 10.0% that beats the current 2020 league average of 7.1% for interior defensive linemen.
With 13 pressures on 67 pass-rush snaps this season, Franklin-Myers has a pressure rate of 19.4% that ranks first out of 102 qualified interior defensive linemen (50+ pass-rush snaps). His total of 13 pressures is tied for 11th at the position even though his total of 67 pass-rush snaps ranks 82nd.
Post-Jamal Adams safety duo does not look good
To replace Adams, Gregg Williams elected to move Marcus Maye – a free safety by trade – into Adams’ strong safety role, while playing the newly-acquired Bradley McDougald – a strong safety by trade – at free safety.
Maye and McDougald have each been far less effective in their new roles than they were at their old positions.
With seven missed tackles (tied for second-most among safeties) against 28 total tackles, Maye has a career-high missed tackle rate of 20.0%. He has allowed a career-high passer rating of 138.0 on throws into his coverage (third-highest among 51 qualified safeties) after giving up a 76.0 passer rating in 2019.
Additionally, Maye has not lived up to the promise as a blitzer he showed in Week 1. After notching three pressures (two of those being sacks) on seven blitz snaps against the Bills, Maye has not picked up a single pressure over 15 pass-rush snaps since Week 2.
McDougald has struggled mightily in coverage, allowing career-highs of a 118.8 passer rating and 12.6 yards per target. With eight first downs allowed over 11 targets, he has yielded an incredibly bad first down rate of 72.7% (league average across all passes is 37.7%), which, of course, is also a career-worst. He gave up a solid first down rate of 35.1% in 2019.
Arizona made it a priority to target Lamar Jackson
Jackson, the undrafted free agent cornerback out of Nebraska who debuted against Denver the previous week, played all 75 defensive snaps for the Jets against Arizona. Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals zeroed in on him.
When targeting Jackson, Kyler Murray completed 9-of-10 passes for 165 yards (16.5 per target), one touchdown, and six additional first downs (70.0% conversion rate).
Gregg Williams allowed Jackson to see far too much of DeAndre Hopkins. The stud wideout beat the rookie for five catches, 118 yards, a touchdown, and four more first downs over six targets against him.
Pressure was nowhere to be found
Outside of Franklin-Myers, no other Jets defender was credited with more than one pressure.
- Quinnen Williams: 0 pressures on 25 pass-rush snaps
- Bryce Huff: 1 on 21
- Jordan Jenkins: 1 on 21
- Tarell Basham: 1 on 19
- Steve McLendon: 1 on 14
- Kyle Phillips: 0 on 12
- Henry Anderson: 1 on 11
- Frankie Luvu: 0 on 9
As a pass-rusher, Williams has alternated between quiet and fantastic games this season. He has shown higher peaks than he did last year, but they have not been consistent enough for him to truly take that next step towards becoming an elite rusher. He needs to begin balancing out his dominant games with decent ones rather than dead-silent ones to establish himself as a legitimately great pass-rushing defensive tackle. Right now, his volatile production makes him relatively average in that phase.
On the plus side, Williams contributed to three stops in the run game against Arizona and is tied for third among interior defensive linemen with 10 run stops this season. He has certainly become an excellent force against the run – can he elevate his pass-rushing to a similar level?
Anderson played only 23% of the defensive snaps, setting a new Jets career-low for the second consecutive game. He is slowly being phased out of the rotation.
The Jets’ edge rushers have combined for 24 pressures this season, fewest in the NFL. Their combined pressure rate of 8.3% is fourth-worst, better than only Jacksonville (7.8%), Seattle (7.6%), and Green Bay (7.4%).
Huff seems to be the only hope for in-season improvement on the edge, but he had a quiet second game of extended action. That’s completely understandable for an undrafted rookie – ideally, Huff gradually improves as the season goes on and establishes himself as a valuable piece heading into 2021.
Regardless of what Huff shows, it’s clear that Joe Douglas needs to put the EDGE position at the very top of his offseason priority list on the defensive side. The unit has zero present-day producers and nobody with long-term untapped potential outside of one slightly promising undrafted rookie.
Brian Poole is returning to elite form
Poole had a shaky start to the season, but over the last two games, he has begun looking more like the lockdown slot corner that he was in 2019.
If he can maintain the improved numbers below, the Jets will almost definitely look to reward Poole with a multi-year deal in the 2021 offseason after inking him to back-to-back one-year pacts.