Today Zach Wilson goes under the knife in Los Angeles. The hope is that the initial diagnosis is accurate and he’ll miss 2-4 weeks. But as we said yesterday, you never really know the extent of a knee injury until you open it up. Keep your fingers and toes crossed over your morning coffee this morning, but don’t spill it.
I wanted to say a quick thank you to everyone who’s read TJW as we mark our 200th edition. I’m always surprised by how many people read, subscribe, and share. Thank you to everyone, especially you guys who were with me right at the start.
The Jets announced the official signing of Duane Brown and to make room they decided to cut wide receiver Keshunn Abram, who was always a long shot to make the roster. Brown was doing some conditioning work yesterday and did not participate in team drills.
Another day and another day where the defensive line got the better of the offensive line. Carl Lawson and John Franklin-Myers both got to Joe Flacco in 11-on-11 drills, and they came within a handful of plays of each other. Huff later got a sack of Flacco as well.
It wasn’t all bad for Joe Flacco though, he led a 10-play touchdown scoring drive in team drills. He hit Breece Hall out of the backfield on a 10-yard score. Sustained drives will be key to keeping the defense fresh this year, it’s something we didn’t always see last year.
Quinnen Williams missed yesterday's session with an ankle injury. Coach Saleh said there were no concerns and he'd be fine. He was joined by Pineiro, Joyner, Reed, Echols, Curry, McDermott, Edoga and Bawden.
Hit of the day came from Kwon Alexander who blew up a screen to Elijah Moore, in the true defensive fashion he was off celebrating the physicality. Fortunately, Moore was up and absolutely fine after the hit.
Eddy Pineiro missed practice yesterday (back tightness) and Greg Zuerlein took advantage by hitting 4/4 field goals. It’s been a close kicking competition over the pre-season but I have Zuerlein ahead so far.
There was another fight at camp, that involved Grant Hermanns yet again (although he later confirmed he was pulling guys off the pile). Hermanns has got into it with Carl Lawson and Micheal Clemons recently, it seems as though he’s got a feisty side to him. Robert Saleh spoke to the team about the fighting and expressed that he wanted control and that it was important that the players protect each other.
Robert Saleh also said he thinks the Jets have three starting QBs. I'm not sure what else anyone expects him to say, but whether he believes what he says is another point all together.
Jason Pinnock made a couple of nice plays in practice yesterday which led Saleh to say “He is a freak of nature” - Pinnock is having his first pre-season at his new position of safety.
“Everybody loves him in the building” - Those were Robert Saleh's words following Mondays session when asked about Micheal Clemons.
Jermaine Jonson may have got a sack on Friday, but it was another rookie pass-rusher who made the biggest impression. The Jets 4th round rookie out of Texas A&M led the Jets with 7 pressures and recorded his first sack in a dominating performance. Many will say that it was against backups, but the first step to getting meaningful snaps against the starters is to dominate the backups. Mission accomplished.
Clemons appeared in just 20 pass-rush snaps on Friday, yet came away with 7 pressures which is good for a 35% pressure rate. It’s important to not get too carried away, but it’s perfectly fine to celebrate an excellent performance.
His ability to rush the passer doesn’t really come as a surprise considering he registered 46 pressures in his final season with the Aggies, which included 8 sacks showing that he can certainly finish.
Violence is a trait of his game with Joe Douglas even commenting post-draft that it played a big part in their decision to draft him, but he’s always under control. Clemons had 5 total penalties over 1,498 snaps in college including just the one penalty in 2021. He plays with anger and aggression, but he doesn’t hurt the team. That’s the difference between someone like him and someone like Trevor Penning who I feel will be a flag machine in the NFL. Quincy Williams could learn a thing or two from Clemons after his late and completely unnecessary hit on Jalen Hurts as he stepped out of bounds.
We’re going to take a look at a handful of plays today from Clemons's performance on Friday (look for #72 on each play). According to PFF, he wasn’t one of the best players on the field…well that’s absolute nonsense. I’m not sure how you have 7 pressures, a sack, a 35% pressure rate, 0 missed tackles, and 3 defensive stops…and not be considered one of the best. Let’s dive in.
I’m not sure what I love more about this play. The lateral ability, the physicality to work through the block, the speed and motor to get to the edge…or how hyped he was to make the tackle.
Over the course of the offseason, we heard defensive line coach Aaron Whitecotton talk about Clemons as having the same versatility JFM has, which basically means he can play inside or out, they also confirmed that they’d be using that versatility. Out of the 30 snaps that he played, he lined up over tackle or outside tackle 21 times, that’s a traditional defensive end spot. In 9 snaps he lined up inside the tackle and that’s a traditional defensive tackle spot. Here is a snap of him generating pressure inside, he doesn’t get home but it was a good bull.
I really liked this snap for a couple of reasons, the first one being the pass break-up by Jordan Whitehead, that’s a top play from the strong safety to get over and break that up. But I also liked Clemons on this play, not only does he push the tackle back which gives Minshew some happy feet, but he changes direction and closes the climb-up option in the pocket. Because he kept his head up and made a smart decision when he saw he wasn’t getting home, it forced Minshew to attempt a pass while falling backward, which in turn gave Whitehead just enough time to get over.
Going to finish here with his sack in the third quarter. I’m not 100% sure what the tackle is doing but his footwork makes him an easy target for a man who packs as much power in his hands as Clemons. He easily puts his man on skates and then climbs up to sack the QB who’s being forced up by pressure on the other side. It’s a good solid football play and getting your first sack is always a great feeling for any defensive lineman coming into the league.
Today I’m going to use this space to highlight a few of the notable rookie performances from week one. Consider this my George Fant section, all about versatility.
Cole Strange only played 14 snaps for the Patriots but he allowed 0 pressures on the day. He was getting time at left guard against the Giants.
George Pickens had 3 receptions for 43 yards and a touchdown in his Steelers debut.
Romeo Doubs had 3 receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown for the Packers
Khalil Shakir had 5 receptions for 92 yards in his Buffalo Bills debut.
Kayvon Thibodeaux was only in for 8 pass-rushing snaps for the Giants, but he failed to register a single pressure.
Ikem Ekwonu was in for 12 pass-blocking snaps for Carolina and allowed a QB hit. He was also given a 49.8 run-blocking grade by PFF.
George Karlaftis had 4 pressures in just 14 pass-rush snaps for the Chiefs including a sack and QB hit.
Boye Mafe had 3 total pressures including 2 sacks in his debut for Seattle against Pittsburgh.
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Congratulations on #200. Look forward to you writing every morning.
David, awesome post! ( as usual!) Unfortunately, I only discovered your work a few months ago. I just turned 70 in June. I have followed this team since it’s inception as the NY Titans in 1960! I run a FB group “Old Time Jets Guys” and I forward your columns there every day! They are by far the groups favorite. I think you have a unique ability to fairly tell the story without pissing anyone off. You are no Manish Mehta!😡😂🤣