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NY Jets have five of AFC East’s most exploitable players

Javon Kinlaw, NY Jets, 49ers, DT, AFC East
Javon Kinlaw, New York Jets, Getty Images

These are the weakest links among the AFC East teams, including the New York Jets

To win in the NFL, a team must be able to exploit their opponents’ weak links. Bill Belichick was a master at this, containing big stars and forcing lesser-known players to step up. While there are many strong players in the AFC East, there are also some players with glaring weaknesses who can be taken advantage of in matchups.

Here are the weakest links in the division.

CB Kader Kohou, MIA: Coverage

Kader Kohou’s overall coverage numbers in 2023 were miserable. Among 72 qualified corners (min. 400 cover snaps), he ranked 55th in yards per cover snap (1.196) and 61st in yards per target (9.01) while tying for the third-most touchdowns allowed (7). His 133.4 targeted passer rating was the worst.

Kohou played nearly two-thirds of his snaps in the slot, where his numbers weren’t quite as bad. Out of the slot, his 0.87 yards per cover snap ranked fourth-best among 29 corners with at least 200 coverage snaps out of the slot. However, he still allowed four touchdowns there and had a 128.1 targeted passer rating, 14.1% completion percentage over expected, and 43.2% defensive success rate, all the worst among those 29 corners. He also ranked 21st with 7.62 yards per target allowed out of the slot.

Kohou is the most exploitable when he’s playing on the outside, but his slot coverage numbers show that he can be had. To boot, he’s a bad tackler, ranking 63rd with a 17.5% miss rate.

LB David Long, MIA: Coverage

In addition to Kohou, Miami has another player who can’t cover: linebacker David Long. Among 70 qualified linebackers (min. 225 coverage snaps) in 2023, Long ranked 53rd with 1.05 yards per cover snap and 60th with 8.96 yards per target allowed. His 0.40 EPA per target ranked 60th, and his 37.5% coverage success rate ranked 61st. Long is also a bad tackler, ranking 52nd with a 12.7% miss rate in 2023 and posting a 15.7% rate for his career.

C Aaron Brewer, MIA: Pass-blocking

The Dolphins brought in Aaron Brewer from Tennessee to replace the injured free agent Connor Williams. Brewer is a strong run-blocker, posting a 78.7 Pro Football Focus grade in that area, 6th out of 34 qualified centers (min. 150 run-blocking snaps). The pass-blocking view isn’t as sanguine, though, as Brewer ranked 32nd out of 35 qualified centers (min. 275 pass-blocking snaps) with a 5.5% pressure rate. (NFL Next Gen Stats concurred, placing him at second-worst with a 9.22% pressure rate.) Not only that, but his impactful pressure rate ((sacks + QB hits) / pressures) tied for 29th at 38.2%.

While it’s possible that coming into Miami’s offense with Tua Tagovailoa releasing the ball quickly will mitigate those issues, it’s certainly something to keep an eye on in Miami.

WR Keon Coleman, BUF: Defeating man coverage

The hype train surrounding new Bills receiver Keon Coleman is through the roof due to his personality. However, there were (and are) legitimate concerns surrounding his ability to perform at the NFL level.

According to Reception Perception, Coleman struggled mightily to separate against man and press-man coverage. In the four previous drafts, only five of 32 players drafted with a similar profile have become successful, and all of them played big slot (Amon-Ra St. Brown, Cooper Kupp, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Rashee Rice, Tyler Boyd). The Bills plan to use Coleman as an X receiver, though.

Coleman hasn’t yet played a snap in the NFL, so this could be completely off. Still, as Stefon Diggs’ replacement, he seems exceptionally vulnerable. As hyped as Josh Allen is to get Coleman, right now his ceiling appears to be a Gabe Davis-type role. That’s nowhere near No. 1 receiver level.

EDGE Von Miller, BUF: Pass rush

Is Von Miller over the hill? He posted just a 7.3% pressure rate on 179 pass rush snaps in 2023, far worse than the 11.7% positional average. While he missed the first four games of the season due to the torn ACL he sustained toward the end of 2022, the Bills used him more as a rotational player even when he returned.

The Bills still have the underrated Greg Rousseau and rotational edge A.J. Epenesa, but they need Miller to play like himself for their pass rush to fire on all cylinders. At 35 years old, though, Miller may no longer be up to the task.

DTs Leki Fotu, Javon Kinlaw, and Solomon Thomas, NYJ: Run defense

The Jets have some of the worst run-defending defensive tackles in the NFL beside one of the best. Leki Fotu came in to replace Al Woods but is nowhere near as capable as a space-eater. Fotu’s 40.7 PFF run defense grade ranked 91st out of 103 qualified defensive tackles (min. 150 run defense snaps). Thomas was below him at 97th (32.2). Javon Kinlaw was somehow worse than both, ranking 99th with a 31.3 grade.

The Jets project to be quite soft in the middle when Quinnen Williams is not on the field.

S Tony Adams, NYJ: Tackling

The Jets jettisoned their worst tackler in Jordan Whitehead, but their other starting safety from 2023 has a similar problem. Tony Adams struggles significantly as a tackler, both at the point of contact and in taking good tackling angles. Among 74 qualified safeties (min. 500 defensive snaps), Adams’ 15.3% missed tackle rate ranked 60th. He was at least partially responsible for six of the 22 explosive runs the Jets allowed in 2023, all of which came due to poor tackling form.

WR Allen Lazard, NYJ: Everything

Considering that this list is meant to primarily include starters, it’s difficult to figure out whether to use Allen Lazard here or not. However, since he’s currently taking first-team reps in OTAs, he can conceivably be a starter. Lazard was the worst receiver in the NFL in 2023, coupling a last-ranked yards per route run (0.68), drop rate (17.9%), and contested catch rate (23.4%) with terrible effort. Lazard is slow, stiff, a poor route-runner, and a drop machine.

QB Drake Maye, NE: Rookie

Jacoby Brissett is the Patriots’ No. 1 starter on their depth chart right now, but it’s difficult to imagine a scenario where rookie Drake Maye sits the entire season.

Maye was a polarizing quarterback prospect, as he has the arm talent to be a good quarterback but has poor footwork and mechanics. New England also doesn’t have any game-changing talent around him, and there are holes on their offensive line. Considering that head coach Jerod Mayo said that Maye has a lot to learn, things could get ugly if he sees the field.

LG Cole Strange, NE: Pass-blocking

Cole Strange was a strange first-round pick (just ask Sean McVay), and he struggled in his sophomore season after enduring multiple benchings in his rookie year. His 6.6% pressure rate in 2023 ranked 56th out of 69 qualified guards (min. 275 pass-blocking snaps), per PFF. He allowed three pressures on 22 pass-blocking snaps (13.6% pressure rate) in the Jets’ Week 3 matchup against New England. Strange is an exploitable link in the Patriots’ offensive line.

EDGEs Keion White and Deatrich Wise, NE: Pass rush

The Patriots have Matt Judon at one edge, but the depth beyond him is iffy at best. Keion White and Deatrich Wise posted 6.6% and 9.2% pressure rates in 2023, respectively, well below the 11.7% average for edge rushers. It’s easier to key on Judon when the other side isn’t much of a threat.

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