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NY Jets’ 3 best team-wide accomplishments in preseason thus far

Robert Saleh, Michael Carter, Jermaine Johnson, NY Jets Celebrate
Robert Saleh, New York Jets, Getty Images

What have the New York Jets accomplished through two preseason games?

While the NFL preseason is mostly about evaluating individual players, there are also some team-wide takeaways that can be found.

Here are three of the New York Jets‘ best accomplishments as a team through two preseason games.

Performance of the rookie class (particularly the top picks)

Every member of the Jets’ 2022 rookie class has received a decent amount of playing time, and the group has collectively shown some promising signs. This is particularly true regarding the class’s top two players: Sauce Gardner and Garrett Wilson.

Gardner has been highly impressive over his small sample of reps in coverage. In both man and zone, he is executing his assignments flawlessly. Gardner is yet to be targeted over 19 snaps in coverage.

Wilson boasts a stat-line of 5 catches on 6 targets for 40 yards (the only incompletion was uncatchable). It’s a line that does not pop off the page, but Wilson’s catches have tended to be impressive despite the modest yardage. Wilson is creating targets for himself by defeating man coverage with quality route-running. He’s also made a couple of excellent catches outside of his frame.

Fourth-round pick Micheal Clemons has been a surprise standout. Clemons is tied for the team lead in pressures (8) and run stops (3) while also drawing two offensive holding penalties.

First-round pick Jermaine Johnson and second-round pick Breece Hall are off to quiet starts from a production standpoint, although both players have been consistently sharp in training camp and are on the verge of breaking out in live-game action.

Overall, the Jets have to be happy with what their rookies have shown.

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Defensive line depth

New York has gotten to take a long look at its depth on the defensive line. Its top-three stars – Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, and Carl Lawson – have combined to play only six defensive snaps. All of those were played by Williams, as Franklin-Myers and Lawson have yet to appear.

This unit is looking very deep. The second and third-string defensive linemen have been shining, potentially creating some difficult decisions for the Jets to make on cut-down day.

The Jets have three players who are ranked top-20 in the NFL in pressures over the first two weeks of the preseason. Clemons is tied for eighth with 9 pressures while Tanzel Smart and Jabari Zuniga are tied for 19th with 6 pressures.

That trio did most of its damage in Week 1. In Week 2, a few other linemen stood out. Jonathan Marshall had 5 tackles, a sack, and a tackle for loss. Bradlee Anae recorded a strip-sack that he recovered himself and returned for a touchdown.

Six different Jets have picked up a sack so far, including five defensive linemen.

As a team, the Jets have earned a 71.2 pass-rush grade at Pro Football Focus, which ranks 10th-best out of 32 teams this preseason.

Defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich employs a rotation-heavy approach for his defensive line. Having reliable pass-rushing talent throughout the entirety of your depth chart is a requirement to get good results out of that strategy. The Jets didn’t check that box last year (largely due to injury), but now, it’s looking like they might have the depth to pull it off.

Good tackling

While the Jets defense has been far from perfect (especially early in games), one thing the unit has done consistently well is finish plays. Missed tackles have not been a persistent issue.

Through two games, the Jets defense has combined for 134 tackles and 14 missed tackles, per PFF, giving them a missed tackle rate of 11.3%. That ranks 10th-best out of 32 teams.

Tackling can be an issue in the preseason and early in the regular season due to players’ rust with full-contact football. Some of the rust is shaken off in joint practices, but there is nothing on the practice field that comes close to replicating what happens in a real game. The fact that the Jets are collectively doing a solid job of tackling is a good sign of their readiness for the season opener.

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1 year ago

It’s progress. Any word on Huff? I know you did a breakdown on him last year and he was productive, haven’t heard much from him. Any chance he’s not on the 53?