New York Jets Safeties, Lamarcus Joyner, Jordan Whitehead
New York Jets, Lamarcus Joyner, Jordan Whitehead, Getty Images

New York Jets’ win over Pittsburgh Steelers was a team effort

From Zach Wilson to Alijah Vera-Tucker, you already know about the headline-grabbing heroes behind the New York Jets‘ 24-20 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

We’re here to discuss some of the unsung heroes.

These five Jets were instrumental parts of the team’s second victory.

EDGE Jermaine Johnson

Jermaine Johnson only played 22 snaps (34% of the defensive plays) but he made them count. Johnson recorded a trio of big stops. He had a sack and tossed in two run stuffs for short gains.

The rookie is still working on perfecting his consistency as a pass rusher, but his run defense has been terrific from the get-go. Johnson is one of the main reasons the Jets are currently ranked sixth-best with only 3.7 yards allowed per rush attempt.

EDGE Bryce Huff

Bryce Huff was a pure third-down specialist in his season debut. Huff played only nine snaps, and all nine of those snaps were passing plays on third down with at least three yards to go.

It was a perfect role for Huff, giving him the chance to just pin his ears back and rush without thinking too much. Huff took full advantage. He looked sharp, earning credit for three pressures (an amazing pressure rate of 33.3%) while having a couple of other good wins on plays where the ball was out quickly.

Most notably, Huff had a pair of pressures that facilitated a third-down stop and forced Pittsburgh into a punt.

FS Lamarcus Joyner

Give credit where credit is due. Lamarcus Joyner‘s first three games were extremely rocky to say the least. But in Pittsburgh, Joyner was one of the Jets’ best players, if not the best.

Joyner record a whopping total of four passes defended, tying him for the sixth-best single-game total in Jets history (since the stat was first recorded in 1999). Two of those were interceptions. Of the two picks, one was an impressive diving catch in the first quarter that set the Jets offense up in field goal range, allowing to New York to take early control. The other put a stamp on Pittsburgh’s last-second Hail Mary attempt at the end of the game.

Despite having two interceptions, Joyner’s best play of the game was actually a pass breakup. On Pittsburgh’s opening drive, Joyner found himself isolated one-on-one with George Pickens deep down the field. Mitchell Trubisky delivered a pretty good throw that could have set Pickens up for a touchdown (or at least a big gain) but Joyner denied it with one of the most impressive pass breakups you’ll ever see from a single-high safety.

To top it all off, Joyner had a deflection on a deep jump-ball intended for Chase Claypool that wound up in the hands of Jordan Whitehead for an interception.

This performance by Joyner was a teach tape for free safeties. It’s unrealistic to expect him to maintain such a high level of play, but if he can consistently play even half as well as he did in this game, the Jets will gladly take it.

SS Jordan Whitehead

Joyner was the star of the show, but let’s not forget his partner in crime, Jordan Whitehead.

Like Joyner, Whitehead got off to a poor start through three games. But the Pittsburgh-area native turned everything around in his home city.

As previously mentioned, Whitehead snagged a pick off a tip from Joyner. In addition to that, Whitehead stayed clean in coverage, as he was not targeted a single time over 37 snaps in coverage. It was a positive step in the right direction after Whitehead committed too many crucial mistakes in coverage over the first three games.

RG Nate Herbig

With George Fant out due to injury, the Jets decided they’d rather move Alijah Vera-Tucker to left tackle and place Nate Herbig at right guard than simply leave Vera-Tucker at right guard and start Conor McDermott at left tackle.

It turned out to be a good call. Vera-Tucker played well at left tackle. And I believe Herbig provided the Jets with a performance that any team would be happy to get from their backup guard.

Herbig’s performance wasn’t necessarily highlight-filled, but his consistency was solid for a backup. While he did make a handful of mistakes, he never stood out as a liability (unlike the Jets’ left guard, Laken Tomlinson, who had yet another woeful game).

In pass protection, Herbig allowed himself to be bull-rushed somewhat deep into the pocket a few times, but he kept defenders in front of him, rarely taking a clean loss. In the run game, Herbig appeared comfortable in the scheme. Despite not being a great athlete, he typically knew where to be and when to be there.

Watch Herbig (No. 65) lead the way for this 16-yard run by Breece Hall. He gets up to the second level and seals the linebacker to the backside.

I think Herbig was the Jets’ second-best lineman behind Vera-Tucker in this game. Max Mitchell was having a rough time in pass protection before going out. Connor McGovern was solid in protection but problematic in the run game. Tomlinson struggled in both phases. McDermott surprisingly had some good moments in the run game but did allow a few pressures in protection.

Herbig was the only lineman outside of Vera-Tucker who played consistent football in both phases.

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at]jetsxfactor.com - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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mlesko73
mlesko73
2 months ago

Great observations
So JJ and Huff played a total of 31 plays (assuming no overlap).
NOT ENOUGH, success needs to be rewarded, not contract size or hype.
Huff for Lawson, Clemons for Lawson too.
Starting D Line (L to R) JJ, JFM, QW, Huff/Clemons
Kudos to Herbig and AVT, putting on their big boy pants and “manning-up”

Jonathan Richter
Jonathan Richter
2 months ago

Time to phase out Solly Thomas and Nate Shephard. Move JFM inside full-time and play more of JJ and Huff.

mlesko73
mlesko73
2 months ago

J Richter is absolutely right!
And rather than having Huff come in for JJ, have him come in for Lawson!

Richard Hausig
Richard Hausig
2 months ago

When you trade up as far as the Jets did for AVT, he better be good and this guy is good. Incredible job to move outside this week.

dudizt
dudizt
2 months ago

Do you think we get to a point where we bench Tomlinson for herbig? Assuming AVT moves back to guard and the tackle situation works itself out?