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5 most intriguing stats from NY Jets’ preseason opener

Mekhi Becton highlights the most intriguing stats from the NY Jets' preseason opener in 2021.
Mekhi Becton, NY Jets, Getty Images

Pass protection: 1 sack, 2 QB hits allowed

Without a doubt, one of the most intriguing stats from the New York Jets‘ preseason-opening victory over the New York Giants was the lack of two particular stats – sacks and quarterback hits.

The Jets’ three quarterbacks dropped back 38 times and absorbed just one sack and two quarterback hits.

This was an excellent outing for the Jets’ offensive line at all levels of the depth chart. First team, second team, third team – all units kept the pocket clean.

The first-team offensive line was especially solid, allowing zero sacks and zero quarterback hits over Zach Wilson‘s nine dropbacks.

Mekhi Becton: Led a 5.2 YPC to his side

Mekhi Becton played two offensive series for the Jets and did a great job of spearheading positive results in the run game.

Over the first two drives of the game, the Jets picked up 26 yards over five carries to the left side, a healthy average of 5.2 yards per carry. Four of the five carries resulted in a gain of at least four yards.

Keep in mind that this was done with Dan Feeney at left guard instead of Alijah Vera-Tucker (and, yes, it was against the Giants’ backups).

Pass defense: 7 PDs, 35% completion rate allowed

Big Blue’s quarterbacks combined to complete 8 of 23 passes (35%) for 92 yards (4.0 per attempt). The Jets had more than thrice as many passes defended (7) as the Giants had completions for first downs (2).

Sure, the competition was weak, but this was a lockdown performance by the Jets’ young secondary. Corey Ballentine recorded two pass deflections (although he allowed the game’s only touchdown) while Brandin Echols and Javelin Guidry each recorded one.

Even the young corners who did not make on-ball plays seemed to be performing well, rarely finding themselves in the spotlight for making a mistake.

C.J. Mosley had a pass deflection on the first play of the game, showing off the improved swiftness that he has been flashing throughout training camp. Michael Dwumfour batted down a pass and John Franklin-Myers got credit for a pass defended as he knocked the ball loose from Clayton Thorson on a hard hit.

Braden Mann: 46.8 yards per punt, 60% of punts inside the 20

Braden Mann had himself a good game to kick off a second season in which he has a lot of room to grow after a shaky rookie year.

Mann punted five times and record a gross average of 46.8 yards. That mark is better than 13 of his 16 performances in the 2020 season.

In addition, Mann dropped three of his five punts inside of the 20-yard line. That’s a 60.0% rate, which is better than all but two of his rookie-year outings.

Mann combined precision and distance on this night. He had bombs for 58 and 52 yards, but he also dropped in a 42-yard fair catch at the Giants’ 13-yard line, a 33-yard fair catch at the Giants’ 6-yard line, and a 46-yarder that was knocked out of bounds by Vyncint Smith at the Giants’ 1-yard line – Smith made a fantastic play to save the ball from landing in the end zone.

However, the two 50-plus punts resulted in a pair of returns for a combined 31 yards (15.5 average), resulting in a net average of just 39.5 yards between those two kicks. Mann will have to continue working on coupling his long-distance kicks with sufficient hang time to avoid setting up the returner with ample room; those two punts were line drives.

Pass rush: 5 sacks, 10 QB hits

The Jets dominated in the trenches on both sides of the ball. The offensive line was clean and the defensive line was unstoppable.

Over 28 dropbacks, the Giants’ quarterbacks took five sacks and 10 quarterback hits.

Three young Jets spearheaded the pass-rushing onslaught – Bryce Huff, Jonathan Marshall, and Hamilcar Rashed.

The young trio combined to get their fingerprints on all five of the team’s sacks. Huff had two solo sacks. Rashed had one solo sack and split a sack-safety with Marshall, who split another sack with Michael Dwumfour.

Jeff Ulbrich‘s starting defensive linemen were quickly racking up highlights during their short time in the game. Sheldon Rankins had a slick move for a quarterback hit that forced an incompletion while John Franklin-Myers screamed off the edge to deflect the ball while Clayton Thorson was releasing it (on another note, Franklin-Myers showed off some of his edge-rushing capabilities in this game).

It is already commonly known that the Jets’ starting defensive line has elite potential, but if the depth on the defensive front is as strong as it looked on Saturday, this unit’s ceiling will rise even higher.

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