Not a lot happens in football for a long time over the summer, and then like a linebacker coming downhill to meet a ball carrier, there is an explosion of activity.
We’ve got plenty to get to today including the tackle situation, Zac’s injury, practice notes from Sunday, and of course game notes from Friday.
Let’s get to it, starting with the quick throws from practice yesterday.
Joe Flacco completed 16/19 passes yesterday in his first practice as QB1. He did have an interception but that came on a miscommunication between him and the wide receiver.
Micheal Clemons and Jermaine Johnson got sacks on back-to-back plays, who doesn’t love to see that?
Quinnen Williams is continuing is dominant pre-season with a sack on Joe Flacco. It seems as though Williams records a sack at every practice. High hopes for him this year.
Garrett Wilson and Nathan Shepherd got into some jawing at practice after Wilson and Sauce were going at each other. Robert Saleh said he thought it was “kind of cute” which says everything about that matchup.
Carl Lawson and Grant Hermanns got into a physical fight, Hermanns was filling in for Chuma Edoga at left tackle. Last week he got into it with Micheal Clemons, if there were two players on this roster I wouldn’t start a fight with, it’s those two.
Rachad Wildgoose continues to impress during camp. He had a good game against Philadelphia and he followed that up with a good practice with one rep shutting down Garrett Wilson receiving universal praise.
🤒 Zach Wilson - Surgery Planned for Tuesday
Friday morning the Jets UK team tweeted out what we hoped to see from the first pre-season game and I responded with no injuries…so when I saw Zach crumple to the floor with a non-contact injury I feared the worst. The logic of playing Zach in a game with two backup tackles is flawed, especially when Coach Saleh held out players like Carl Lawson and CJ Mosley for other reasons. However, we can’t avoid the fact that Wilson needs to protect himself.
Wilson decided to try and cut back inside to make a play rather than head straight out of bounds. I understand that it’s part of his natural game, but a lot of players play differently in the pre-season. One other thing to note on this play is how easily Max Mitchell is beaten which produces the pressure causing Zach to scramble.
The decision by Wilson to stay in bounds came just a handful of plays after he threw a bad interception to a linebacker he just didn’t see. It was youthful exuberance, an attempt at a make-up play, but he needs to learn that it’s just not worth it, and I think he eventually will.
It appears as though the Jets have avoided the worst with a bone bruise and damage to the meniscus being reported. However, I would suggest cautious optimism. The truth is that until they take a look they won’t know for sure, and until the operation has been complete, they won’t know the timeline for recovery. So while they are projecting a 2-4 week absence right now, we won’t know for sure until later this week.
Zach spent his Sunday heading to LA to see Dr. ElAttrache who will operate on him. Mekhi Becton is also heading to see the same doctor for a consultation before deciding on the best course of treatment.
If Zach does end up just missing 2-4 weeks, the Jets will be in capable hands with Joe Flacco, but if he misses extended time then the Jets ceiling will be significantly lower and it will make the evaluation of Zach and his progress very difficult.
🔁 Fant moving to right tackle
When Mekhi Becton went down and the Jets announced they’d come to an agreement with Duane Brown, chances were Fant would need to move to right tackle.
Brown has over 13,000 snaps of experience at left tackle and is a 5x pro bowler at the position. I said that my preference was to keep Fant at left tackle and at least try Brown out on the right side to see how he looks.
For as good a player as Brown has been over his career, Fant was the better pass blocker in 2021, and it wasn’t really close. Brown was the better run blocker with a 69.6 grade as opposed to Fant’s 59.9, but Fant also allowed one sack as opposed to the 8 allowed by Brown. Fant also allowed fewer total pressures (18 v 33) and had a much better pass-block efficiency (98.3 vs 96.3).
I understand the Jets moving him to the right side, with Saleh saying his versatility was a curse in this situation, but if you were to ask me which player I’d trust more in 2022 to protect Zach in the passing game then I would say George Fant without any hesitation. But like Saleh also said, George Fant is the ultimate team player. Now reward him with a new contract because our tackle situation beyond 2022 is looking very dicey indeed.
📖 I made some notes from the Philadelphia game, but as you can imagine Zach’s injury clouded the viewing experience considerably.
The rollercoaster ride that is Denzel Mims continues. He converted a key 3rd down with a really crisp/fast route which was a big +. He also led the team in targets (5). The problem is he was one of only two Jets with a drop (Abram) which came after a poor illegal formation penalty. He does tend to let mistakes stack up.
Lawrence Cager continues to impress. He was targeted twice and he caught both passes for 40 yards showing google ability after the catch. I think he’s firmly overtaken Kenny Yeboah in the pecking order and if he continues to impress the Jets may have to find a spot for him on the 53, which won’t be easy considering the TE depth.
Guard play was outstanding. First of all the starters (Tomlinson & AVT) only allowed a single pressure. Their backups were impressive too. Nate Herbig played behind AVT and he didn’t allow a single pressure in 21 pass-blocking snaps. Isaiah Williams and Derrick Kelly backed up Tomlinson and didn’t allow pressure in a combined 23 pass-blocking snaps.
Micheal Clemons was the best player on the field…for either team. He just has so much power and his motor is red hot. 1 sack and 7 total pressures is a great performance for your first NFL action, and he was pushing the pocket with ease. The Jets said they were going to line him up as both a defensive end and defensive tackle and that’s exactly what they did, he had 9 snaps inside on Friday.
Rachad Wildgoose had himself a good game, he made 4 defensive stops on the night (tied with the team lead with Tanzel Smart). His run defense was particularly good on the outside and he split his time between a slot corner and an outside corner. He helped his case for a spot on the 53 with that performance.
In total the Jets recorded 5 sacks, which is a good number considering the players who were missing, including their premier pass-rusher Carl Lawson. Smart showed up with 2, rookie Jermaine Johnson recorded one, Clemons got one and Jabari Zuniga also had one. Zuniga actually had a very good game with 5 pressures and 5 total tackles, not enough people are talking about that.
Sauce Gardner played 11 snaps in coverage but was targeted 0 times. His coverage was sticky and the Eagles decided not to test the rookie. I’m looking forward to seeing him get tested a little bit this pre-season.
Garrett Wilson is as advertised, he got open on pretty much every snap, he caught 2 of the 3 targets and the third target was a bad miss from Zach Wilson. I think as long as we get good consistent QB play, Wilson will be in the running for rookie of the year, he’s outstanding.
Tyler Conklin looked dangerous in the passing game, but he wasn’t overly efficient in the run game. Same can be said for a lot of the Jets players on Friday night.
Nice to see Jeremy Ruckert in the game and getting on the board straight away. It was an easy catch for the rookie, but considering he’s only just started practicing any score is a good one and they’re all worth the same amount of points. Calvin Jackson Jr also got on the board and the UDFA is making a name for himself this pre-season.
It was tough sledding for Breece Hall but the offensive line offered little help. He had 15 yards on 5 carries, but he did lead all Jets RB’s with 2 missed tackles forced. La'Mical Perine led the Jets with 51 yards although it was Zonovan Bam Knight who registered the TD. He struggled to get much else going finising with 2.2 yards per rush, again a lot of it was on the offensive line.
Jets won. It’s important for the team to get familiar with what that feels like.
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