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How did NY Jets’ rookies perform vs. Atlanta Falcons?

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Sauce Gardner led the charge for New York Jets’ 2022 rookie class vs. Falcons

The New York Jets‘ second preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons provided another opportunity for the team’s highly-regarded rookie class to flaunt its talent. All seven draft picks appeared in the game – experiencing varying degrees of success.

Here’s how the Jets’ 2022 draft class performed.

CB Sauce Gardner

  • 12 defensive snaps
  • 2 special teams snaps

Sauce Gardner was silent – in a good way – for the second consecutive game. After seeing zero targets in his direction over 11 coverage snaps against Philadelphia, Gardner had another 0-target performance over 8 coverage snaps against Atlanta.

Gardner is doing an excellent job of handling his coverage assignments. Quarterbacks are not throwing in his direction simply because he isn’t allowing anybody around him to get open.

Watch here as Gardner gets enough depth to cover the deep corner route, forcing a checkdown.

Many NFL cornerbacks would have sunk hard on the flat receiver in search of a big hit, leaving the corner route open for a touchdown. Instead, Gardner’s intelligent rep keeps the ball out of the end zone.

WR Garrett Wilson

  • 10 offensive snaps
  • 0 special teams snaps

Garrett Wilson caught all three of his targets for 15 yards. On paper, that doesn’t seem like a wildly impressive performance, but Wilson was much better than those numbers let on. He made a pair of eye-popping grabs outside of his frame.

EDGE Jermaine Johnson

  • 19 defensive snaps
  • 5 special teams snaps

Jermaine Johnson had a quiet game. Over 19 defensive snaps (14 pass rush / 5 run defense), he had one tackle and one pressure.

It seems that Johnson is still coming along in his progression as a pass rusher. Johnson was frequently stalled on the edge in the passing game as it appeared he sometimes lacked a decisive plan of attack. Atlanta’s tackles had no problem getting their hands into Johnson’s chest and keeping him at bay.

Johnson’s physical traits are undeniable, but he might require a bit more time to master the finer points of his game than some of his peers in this draft class. The Jets themselves have hinted that a slower development curve might be in store for Johnson. At the beginning of August, head coach Robert Saleh said Johnson “[has] got a long way to go, but we like where he’s at.”

Johnson has been making a lot of plays in training camp, though, so maybe it’s only a matter of time until that translates to a real game. Preseason appearances are short, after all – evaluating a guy’s pass rushing based on 14 snaps isn’t the best idea. That’s less than half a game’s worth. Plenty of defensive linemen have great performances after starting slow.

One week ago, defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich praised Johnson’s progress.

RB Breece Hall

  • 10 offensive snaps
  • 0 special teams snaps

Breece Hall couldn’t get anything going as he rushed for 1 yard on 4 carries. That was not entirely Hall’s fault, though, as he was running behind a backup offensive line that struggled mightily to create movement in the run game. Hall rushed for -5 yards before contact and 6 yards after contact.

Hall also had this nice pickup in pass protection.

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TE Jeremy Ruckert

  • 20 offensive snaps
  • 7 special teams snaps

Jeremy Ruckert took the field for 20 offensive snaps, running a route on 9 of those and blocking on 11. He caught his only target for 4 yards.

As a run-blocker, I thought Ruckert was up and down after watching his film. He had a couple of respectable reps but also took a handful of losses.

OT Max Mitchell

  • 25 offensive snaps
  • 4 special teams snaps

Adjusting from Louisiana to the NFL, Max Mitchell is going through some growing pains even if he’s not facing starter-level competition. Mitchell earned a 49.9 overall grade at Pro Football Focus as he struggled in both phases. He started the game at right tackle and played 25 snaps.

DL Micheal Clemons

  • 34 defensive snaps
  • 5 special teams snaps

Micheal Clemons did not come close to replicating the rampage he went on in Philadelphia, although he still played decently. Clemons had three solo tackles (all stops for short gains in the run game) and drew two offensive holding penalties. However, his pass rushing was much quieter than the previous game as he had one pressure over 19 pass rush snaps.

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1 year ago

Maybe I’m biased but I thought Cleamons was more disruptive last night than your write up would suggest. Clearly he’s a high motor guy which is good overall for the team.

1 year ago
Reply to  vnick12

I agree, the key as they say is give it everything every play. Clemons may not be the guy who makes the play but his all out effort might wear an OL down so the next guy can make a play. If the Jets do plan to send a barrage of DL at people the entire game Clemons will help even if it doesn’t show on the stat sheet.