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5 players that stepped up big time in NY Jets’ upset win

Irvin Charles, NY Jets, Stats, Eagles
Irvin Charles, New York Jets, Getty Images

The New York Jets defeated Philadelphia thanks to impact from surprising places

Without Aaron Rodgers, Alijah Vera-Tucker, Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, Brandin Echols, Justin Hardee, and (for most of the game) Joe Tippmann, the New York Jets needed some unlikely heroes to step up if they wanted to defeat the 5-0 defending NFC champions.

And that’s exactly what happened.

These five Jets players stepped up to replace the impact lost from New York’s stars and facilitate the upset victory over Philadelphia.

Jermaine Johnson

While the Jets weren’t missing any defensive linemen, they still needed as much help as they could get from any defensive position to make up for the production lost in Gardner and Reed. Jermaine Johnson rose to the occasion with a dominant performance.

The Jets’ second-year edge rusher recorded four total pressures, the second-best total of his career (after the five he had against Denver last week). He also had a whopping three passes defended after having zero in his first 19 career games.

While he did not record any takeaways himself, Johnson was responsible for creating two Jets interceptions. First, Johnson sniffed out a screen pass to Dallas Goedert and popped the ball into the air for Quinnen Williams to snag it. Later, Johnson hit Jalen Hurts while he was throwing to force an errant pass attempt that fell into the arms of Bryce Hall.

Johnson also made his presence felt in the run game, doing a nice job of setting the edge to contain Philadelphia’s feared rushing attack. Johnson did not have any notable tackles himself, but he was a force on the edge nonetheless.

After a slow start to the season as a pass rusher, Johnson has begun to show significant progress over the past two games. Johnson had five pressures on 107 pass-rush snaps over his first four games (4.7% pressure rate). Over the past two games, he had nine pressures on 63 pass-rush snaps (14.3% pressure rate).

Craig James

The idea of Craig James trying to cover A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith cost Jets fans multiple hours of sleep on Saturday. Little did they know that James was about to do his best Sauce Gardner impersonation.

James did not play the entire game, as the Jets mixed and matched to replace their missing corners. But he still played a lot, taking the field for 41 of 70 defensive snaps (59%). Yet, Jets fans hardly noticed him – which is always a great sign for a cornerback.

Across 27 snaps in coverage, James was only targeted twice and both passes fell incomplete. He had an impressive pass breakup on Olamide Zaccheaus in the back of the end zone in the first quarter.

Jets cornerbacks coach Tony Oden deserves an immense amount of credit for having James and the entire unit ready to play.

Bryce Hall

For the second game in a row, Bryce Hall filled in admirably as a starter. Hall played all 70 defensive snaps and went toe-to-toe with Philadelphia’s star wide receiver duo.

It wasn’t perfect, as Hall let up a 49-yard catch to A.J. Brown in the second quarter. Hall missed a tackle to give Brown at least 25 extra yards. The play put Philadelphia at the Jets’ 3-yard line and the Eagles would score a couple of plays later.

Overall, though, Hall was solid. The 49-yard Brown reception was the only major blemish on Hall’s record. Outside of that play, Hall was credited with allowing 3-of-7 passing for 20 yards and two first downs on throws into his coverage. Hall had one pass breakup and also secured an easy interception that was set up by Jermaine Johnson.

Once again, Tony Oden and the Jets’ coaches need to be recognized for putting these guys in positions to succeed. But give credit to the individual players, too. While we don’t see it, they work their butts off all year to make sure they’re ready for this moment – the moment where they are called upon to do a job that few people outside of the building believe they are capable of doing.

What we saw from James and Hall on Sunday is the product of tireless year-round preparation.

Irvin Charles

Gardner and Reed where the headliners, but the losses of Justin Hardee and Brandin Echols were also important. Hardee and Echols both play significant roles on special teams. Without them, the Jets needed some of their bottom-of-the-roster players to step up into key roles for the coverage units.

Irvin Charles answered the call for the second consecutive game.

After recording a forced fumble on a punt against Denver last week, Charles had another big game in punt coverage, highlighted by a tremendous open-field tackle to stop the returner for no gain on a 54-yard punt. On top of that, Charles made it down the field quickly to assist on two other short returns, and he also helped force a fair catch the 7-yard line.

Thanks to Charles’ performance, the Jets’ special teams experienced no drop-off without Hardee and Echols.

Charles is demanding a weekly role in the Jets’ special teams unit with the production he has put forth over his first two NFL appearances.

Tony Adams

One of the Jets’ most promising young starters heading into the season was 24-year-old Tony Adams, a 2022 UDFA out of Illinois. The Jets showed an immense amount of faith in Adams throughout the offseason, as they did not make any aggressive additions to improve the safety position and then handed him the starting job in training camp without any sort of competition.

The Jets believed in Adams based solely on what he had shown in practice and the limited amount of tape he had at safety near the end of his rookie season. For Adams to earn that amount of faith from the coaching staff despite his draft status and lack of reps, it’s obvious that he must have been absolutely blowing them away.

Adams got off to a somewhat slow start over his first three games in 2023. It was a gamble to trust Adams as a starting safety despite his lack of experience, and that lack of experience showed up at times. Some questioned whether the Jets made the right decision by going all-in on Adams.

Still, it was only three games for a second-year player who had only two extended appearances at safety in his rookie season. Patience was warranted.

Against Philadelphia, Adams showed why New York’s coaches think so highly of him.

Obviously, the whole world saw Adams’ game-turning interception of Jalen Hurts in the fourth quarter. Adams showed blitz, dropped back into his hook/curl zone in the Cover 3, read Hurts’ eyes, and broke on the ball. It’s a pretty baffling decision by Hurts, but give Adams credit for getting the job done.

While the interception was the highlight, Adams was excellent throughout this game even before that play.

Adams held his own in coverage, as that interception was the only play where he was credited with a target across 49 coverage snaps. The Eagles tried to attack the Jets’ depleted secondary downfield with A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, but Adams did a good job of executing his coverage responsibilities to avoid any coverage busts that would allow the Eagles to go deep.

Adams also tackled efficiently, making six total tackles without any misses.

With his speed and instincts, Adams has the potential to be a good starting safety in the NFL. But it’s important to remember that he is still essentially a rookie, possessing just five career starts. There will be ups and downs. Some of those downs occurred early in the season. Now, Adams is on the upswing after his performance against Philly.

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8 months ago

And to think, some writers were calling Garrett, Jermaine and Adams “underachievers” and over-hyped.
Things that make you say “hmmmm”

8 months ago

It was a great team win. I want to personally apologize to Bryce Hall. Mea Culpa. He’s been more than can be expected in his las two starts. I couldn’t have been more wrong about him.

I think Z should be on this list, even though that first one was iffy.