Matt Ammendola has a leg up on Chris Naggar
Watching the New York Jets‘ two kickers in person at MetLife Stadium, I noticed that one clearly had more pop in his leg than the other – Matt Ammendola.
Ammendola made all four of his field goals in the kicking session, including makes from 50 and 53 yards out. His kicks had a lot of juice. Ammendola’s short makes flew above the uprights, and his kicks from 50-plus had enough distance to clear the crossbar from at least five more yards out.
Interestingly, Ammendola was only asked to attempt three field goals from 50-plus yards in college. He made two of them.
The Oklahoma State product closed the practice with a missed extra point, but he still had a strong night overall. He clearly has tremendous leg power and complimented it with good accuracy on this evening.
Ammendola also showcased ideal placement on his kickoffs as he dropped them just a couple of yards beyond the goal line. That’s the perfect location to entice the returner to take the ball out while he is still deep enough to where he will most likely be stopped short of the 25-yard line.
Chris Naggar had a brutal night on paper, making just one of his four field-goal tries in the early kicking session. He made all of his extra-point attempts and a short field goal attempt in the scrimmage period.
I already started to have concerns about Naggar even before he missed any kicks. While watching him warm-up, his power paled into comparison to Ammendola’s even though he was making the warm-up attempts.
Whereas Ammendola’s kicks fired off of his foot and smoothly flew through the air with a sky-high apex, Naggar was kicking fluttery knuckleballs that lacked arc. On short attempts, Naggar would often fail to push the ball more than halfway up the uprights.
Naggar also had a short kickoff along the sideline that nearly bounced out of bounds, but fortunately for him, it crept into the end zone.
Lamarcus Joyner thrives
Lamarcus Joyner had one heck of a night in coverage.
Joyner dropped off of his flat coverage assignment to undercut a red-zone throw by Zach Wilson that was intended to hit Vyncint Smith on a drag route. He leaped and snatched the ball into his grasp for an interception but lost it when he hit the ground.
In a two-minute drill, the Jets offense faced a fourth-and-9 situation. Joyner broke downhill on a pass intended for Jamison Crowder and deflected it up into the air, resulting in an interception by C.J. Mosley.
Joyner also made a great break to contest a pass for Elijah Moore over the middle, but Moore made a fantastic catch through Joyner’s hit and Wilson delivered the ball in an excellent spot.
There were also a few glimpses of Joyner being used as a blitzer, and his speed stood out on those plays. Joyner screamed off the right-side edge from his Cover 2 alignment (he was very shallow, only eight yards off the line) to make a diving run stuff on La’Mical Perine.
C.J. Mosley has an active day in coverage
C.J. Mosley has been making a lot of plays in coverage on the practice field. He kept that up at MetLife Stadium.
Mosley broke out of his hook/curl zone to deflect a short pass intended for Chris Herndon. Later, he recorded a diving interception off of a deflection by Joyner.
The only notable mishap for Mosley was a missed tackle in the flat where he was juked out by Corey Davis, but other than that, Mosley continues to show incredible potential in coverage.
Bryce Hall wins the night against Elijah Moore
Elijah Moore has been lighting up social media with highlight-reel catches over Bryce Hall throughout OTAs, minicamp, and training camp. Hall finally punched back on Saturday.
You won’t see the Jets release any highlights of Hall’s scrimmage performance, because there were none – and that’s the point. Hall had a bunch of high-quality coverage reps against Moore, keeping the ball from coming his way.
On Wilson’s should-be interception to Joyner, Hall stuck to Moore’s back hip on a corner route, completely taking him away as an option.
Hall had one particular rep against Moore that really snatched my attention. He played press-man against Moore on an island along the right sideline and locked him down. Hall made early contact and stayed step-for-step with Moore as he attempted to run a 15-yard curl. His hips stood out, as he opened up outside and then smoothly flipped back inside as Moore attempted to work inside.
I also liked Hall’s zone coverage.
Thriving in zone coverage is mainly about active communication, smart decision-making, and effective role-playing. Hall did all of those things on Saturday. He read the offense’s route concepts well and was consistently in the right position to execute his role in shutting down the route or routes in his area.
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Elijah Moore always finds a way to get involved
One of the common hallmarks of great team-sport players is that they avoid having too many “bad” games. While stars have days in which they are off their game just like anyone else, what separates them from the pack is their ability to still be at least “okay” or “good” even when they are not as dominant as usual.
They almost never have games in which they are shut down completely.
Moore showcased this trait on Saturday. It was far from his best day, as Hall had his number throughout most of the night; but he did not let that deter him from making noise. Moore made a big impact when he got opportunities against other players.
On a play in which Hall dropped into a deep-third zone had no chance to contest Moore on an intermediate dig route, Moore made a great catch over the middle while absorbing a hit from Joyner. Moore also snagged a pass into the flat and evaded Bless Austin (who gambled for a pick and missed) for a big gain after the catch.
Good day for the edge rushers
The edge defenders enjoyed a fantastic night against the offensive tackles.
Bryce Huff kept popping out. He continues to show impressive get-off and speed while coupling it with a versatile array of finesse moves.
Huff beat Mekhi Becton with a speed rush and rip move around the edge for a possible sack (it was tough to tell if Becton recovered to stop Huff or if Huff pulled up to avoid hitting Wilson). He also used a chip from a tight end to his advantage as he sliced inside and beat George Fant through the B-gap for a likely sack.
Progress for Mekhi Becton
Despite the overall success of the edge group, Mekhi Becton did begin to show improvement against Lawson.
Lawson got Becton a couple of times – once darting past him for a run stuff and once bull-rushing him to get an angle for a possible sack – but Becton had a fair amount of impressive reps against Lawson in legitimate one-on-one pass-protection situations. Becton appeared to do a much better job of using Lawson’s momentum against him to send him past the pocket.
Related Article: Mekhi Becton’s pass protection deserves more praise (Film)
Braden Mann sputters
Braden Mann really struggled on this summer night in the Meadowlands. Mann had a number of punts in the midfield range where the goal is to pin the opponent inside of the 10-yard line, but he consistently dropped his punts around the 20-yard line for fair catches. He even had a shank from his own 42-yard line that bounced at the opponent’s 28-yard line.
It looked like Mann was trying too hard to put hang time on his punts (in response to the big returns he and the Jets allowed last year), which led to him sacrificing way too much distance.
Mann needs to regain his confidence and get comfortable about letting the ball fly. He has the talent to blend power, hang time, and precision – we saw it at Texas A&M and a few times last year – the most important thing for him is to not overthink it and just let his talent shine through.
On Saturday, I felt that Mann was overly focused on one goal – creating hang time and preventing returns – and it led to him compromising way too much in other areas, leaving yards on the field.
Kickoff unit flashes electric potential
The kickoff return unit was great (which in turn means the kickoff coverage unit was bad). Corey Ballentine had two excellent returns while Michael Carter had one of his own. One of Ballentine’s returns had touchdown potential if the officials did not stop the return early, and the same goes for Carter’s return.
Blake Cashman had a good block to spring Ballentine’s possible touchdown return. Cashman has shown in his limited regular-season appearances that he is a very good blocker for the kickoff return team.
James Morgan performs well with the second team
Morgan had a marvelous throw in which he rolled out to his right, waited for Josh Malone to get depth on a deep over route, planted his feet outside of the pocket, and delivered an absolute beauty to Malone over the outstretched arm of the defensive back. Malone took it to the house for six points.
Later, Morgan went through his reads and hit a wide-open Carter in the flat on the right side for a touchdown.
Morgan did toss an interception to Zane Lewis, but this was still a good day for the Green Bay native.
Mike White orchestrates the third team with gusto
White led two touchdown drives with the third-team offense. On the first, he found Kenny Yeboah on a seam route from the left side for a toe-tapping touchdown in the back of the end zone.
Later, White launched a beautiful dime to Josh Malone in the back right corner of the end zone on a corner route (Malone had a great night).
Hamsah Nasirildeen and Jamien Sherwood look comfortable
Sherwood showed smarts on a run stop in which he was the backside linebacker. The RB bent the run back, and Sherwood stayed in the perfect position to cover the backside C-gap, not getting sucked toward the motion of the play. He displayed good discipline there.
Nasirildeen will not get the opportunity to show his special hitting power until the Giants cross his path next Saturday, but there were glimpses of what he is capable of at the Green & White Practice. Even his half-effort shoulder shots in the limited-contact scrimmage had some pop to them.
It is visibly apparent how aggressive Nasirildeen is when pursuing downhill. That could either make or break his future as an NFL linebacker – will he fail to control his aggression or will he combine it with precision to make big plays?
Member-Only Article: New York Jets LB Hamsah Nasirildeen could be a late-round steal (Film)
Carter, Perine, Johnson headline the backfield
Carter, La’Mical Perine, and Ty Johnson were my favorite running backs of the night. While there were not many amazing highlights from the running back group, each of these three players did something that caught my eye.
The touchdown (and the ensuing dance) was Carter’s obvious highlight, but I liked what he showed as a runner. Carter made some great cuts behind the line of scrimmage to avoid potential tackles for loss and turn them into solid gains.
Perine showed some potential growth in his vision. On one play, Perine took a stretch handoff to the right side and bent it all the way to the back side edge for a nice gain.
As a rookie, Perine would have run into the wall on the front side. That play showed me a lot of growth.
Johnson made a fantastic one-handed catch on a pass in the flat from Wilson that was too wide. He was also the first running back on the field with the first-team offense, although the Jets rotated different backs (Johnson, Perine, Carter, Tevin Coleman) with the first-team throughout the night.
Denzel Mims update
Denzel Mims primarily ran with the third-team offense but also got some second-team reps. He made an excellent leaping grab over Corey Ballentine on a bad pass along the sideline that was underthrown and could have been intercepted.
Mims also threw some good blocks in the run game. In one-on-one drills against the cornerbacks prior to the scrimmage, Mims toasted Jason Pinnock on an out route to draw a flag.
On White’s touchdown throw to Malone, Mims won his one-on-one against Ballentine to open himself up for a potential touchdown. Aligned tight to the formation on the left side, Mims defeated Ballentine’s hands, stacked him, and cut outside to create horizontal separation towards the front pylon.
Bad day for Zach Wilson
Zach Wilson had a rough outing.
Over-aggressiveness was at the core of Wilson’s struggles. He was extremely confident, trying tight-window throws all night with mixed results.
All three of Wilson’s interceptions (if we include Joyner’s drop) were at least partially a result of overconfidence.
Wilson seemed to see Javelin Guidry undercutting a slant by Jamison Crowder but tried to loft it over him (or zip it by him) to no avail. Guidry got underneath the route and picked Wilson off.
The Mosley interception came on a highly aggressive missile to Crowder on a dig route with Joyner sitting right in the middle waiting for it. Joyner easily got in front of the pass and tipped it up for Mosley.
It’s worth noting that the Joyner-Mosley play came on fourth-and-9 in a two-minute drill, so Wilson’s aggressiveness in that situation was somewhat warranted. There were absolutely no other options to go with the ball (Hall again smothered Moore on a deep curl).
On the dropped pick by Joyner, Wilson tried to drop the ball into Vyncint Smith near the front-right pylon between a bevy of defenders.
However, the Joyner play was hardly a real-game situation for Wilson. John Franklin-Myers quickly created pressure (coming unblocked off the edge as he made a smart play by not falling for a play fake) and was basically standing in front of Wilson as he threw the ball. Wilson likely would have been sacked if it were a real game.
Positively, some of Wilson’s aggressive throws resulted in tight-window completions. He hit Moore and Jeff Smith on extremely tight routes over the middle that were nearly deflected by Joyner and Marcus Maye, respectively.
Both throws were so close to being deflected or picked, however, that one could argue he probably shouldn’t have thrown them even though they ended up being completed.
It looks like Wilson is still in the process of figuring out the difference between a college window and an NFL window – which you would expect from a guy who hasn’t played a preseason game yet.
Altogether, while Wilson was not at his best on Saturday, it would be silly to give him too much flack for an intra-squad scrimmage in early August of his rookie season. It would be a different story if Wilson consistently struggled this much on the practice field, but he has been mostly solid throughout his first NFL offseason.
There is no reason to overreact to anything that happens at this stage of the season – be it positive or negative – unless it happens with extreme consistency.