Conor Orr: Jets overmatched, at times sloppy in first loss of season
A good job by Conor
Three Jets from Sunday who deserve some recognition
1. Garrett McIntyre: His first sack of the day, with 9:44 remaining in the first quarter, illustrates two things. The first is that he can execute the stunt move flawlessly and the second is that he may be a little stronger than we all thought. McIntyre crushes Maurkice Pouncey, putting him flat on his backside before storming toward Ben Roethlisberger for the trip sack. Bringing Roethlisberger down -- something many tried on Sunday -- is a Herculean task in itself. McIntyre made his fair share of mistakes, a blown coverage on fullback Will Johnson that led to a 26-yard gain on the Steelers’ first drive, most importantly, but he was more than adequate in filling in for Bryan Thomas, who missed the game with a hamstring injury. In McIntyre, the Jets may have their answer for more physical teams like the Steelers when it comes to the pass rush. With guys like Aaron Maybin (13 snaps on Sunday) taking a back seat, McIntyre has the speed and the skill set to mix it up in the trenches and make a difference. He finished with six tackles, four for a loss, and two sacks.
2. The defensive line: In total, the Steelers finished with just 66 yards behind what Rex Ryan lauded as the biggest offensive line in football. It was easy to tell how much the Jets missed Sione Po’uha, who played 55 percent of the defensive snaps, and it’s also easy to see how far along Kenrick Ellis has come. Ellis, who was on the field 20 percent of the time, split a double team to make a nice stop in the first half. Muhammad Wilkerson played the most snaps out of any defensive lineman, which shows that Ryan is totally comfortable trusting him against the run or the pass -- something that cannot be said for Wilkerson’s friend, Quinton Coples, just yet. Coples played just 16 snaps.
3. Konrad Reuland and Bilal Powell: With Dustin Keller out, props go out to the tight end who has managed to absorb almost the entire offense in two weeks and the running back who filled in and took the carries in the second half once Shonn Greene left the game. Both have been thrown into bigger roles and both look relatively comfortable all things considered. Reuland finished with 43 percent of the offensive snaps and caught both of his targets for 20 yards (he was the third leading receiver). Powell averaged 3.7 yards a carry in Greene’s absence and did a tremendous job as a pass blocker, which kept him in over Joe McKnight in the second half.
Three players who need to put the extra work in this week
1. LaRon Landry’s personal foul late-hit penalty on Emmanuel Sanders doesn’t look all that bad until you get the bird’s eye cam. There you see the Steelers wideout take two full strides out of bounds before Landry comes in with the hit. The hit itself is made halfway into the sideline, too, which is about a yard and a half off the field. The horse collar penalty on Landry, which came about seven minutes of game time after the personal foul was just as bad, with the safety’s hand digging inside of Antonio Brown’s jersey. He did do a nice job of almost getting the strip in, but needs to be more aware of indicators the referees will use to throw the flag. Landry has been harped on a lot for his aggressiveness this week after it paid big dividends against Buffalo, so it will be interesting to see how he comes out in Week 3.
2. Antonio Cromartie: Ryan said that the touchdown given up to Mike Wallace was due to the body’s natural drift. When Cromartie’s eyes began following the ball, you can see him overshoot Wallace by about half a yard in the corner of the end zone. After watching the replay about a dozen times, you can make Ryan’s point fairly easily although you wonder why this hasn’t been an issue in the past. There are a lot of other things that go wrong on this play, to be fair. There is no safety help as Landry comes on a blitz and Yeremiah Bell steps in to cover Sanders. Cromartie is left alone in the corner of the end zone with the first Steelers wideout to start in a Pro Bowl since John Stallworth. Still, Cromartie struggled with Wallace all game, giving up four catches for 68 yards in isolated situations, while Kyle Wilson gave up 43 yards to his primary target, Antonio Brown.
3. Stephen Hill: He was caught fighting with Ike Taylor after a run play with 8:30 to go in the first quarter. There’s nothing wrong with that, as it highlights Hill’s proficiency as a blocker to this point. Taylor seemed to be frustrated. He also did a few good things in the pass game, namely the sell on his route with 6:27 to go in the first quarter that allowed Jeremy Kerley to bust loose for the 45-yard gain. However, Sanchez looks for him deep with 12:56 to go in the second quarter and the ball hits Hill square in the hands. That catch could be the difference between a touchdown and the field goal they ended up settling for. There will be a tendency to overreact to Hill having been targeted twice for no catches on Sunday in 41 snaps -- especially since it’s the first time he’s seen a heavy amount of press coverage -- but there are a lot of factors at play here. In the second half, Sanchez did not have the time he did in the first so a lot of Hill’s deeper routes couldn’t be looked at. In doing a quick review of Hill’s 41 snaps, there are four times (a rough estimate) when he has a tough time separating from press coverage that could have yielded catches, which isn’t abnormal.
BY THE NUMBERS
A statistical look at some of the major storylines throughout the week
15: The number of coverage plays by outside linebacker Calvin Pace, who is more comfortable as a rush end. Injuries and a niche in the game plan called for Pace to drop back more than usual and in turn, the Steelers . After the game, he wasn’t too pleased saying: “You’d have to talk to someone else who was out there rushing.” Ryan called him the best “zone coverage outside linebacker” he’s ever been around. The Steelers only picked on Pace twice, though, according to Pro Football Focus. Note: Twitter user Disco Steve points out that last week, Pace was rushing 27 times as opposed to five coverage snaps.
1: The number of non-special teams snaps for Joe McKnight on Sunday. Ryan said that Powell took a majority of the snaps for Greene because of Powell’s ability to pick up pass rushers. Given that the Jets needed to throw in the second half, the reasoning is understandable, especially once the Steelers began teeing off with their blitzes. However, McKnight is a good receiver out of the backfield and a dangerous runner in open space.
2:16: The span of Tim Tebow time, which lasted just three plays on Sunday. In that time, the Jets’ Wildcat passer averaged more than 9 yards per play (three plays in total). He was taken out after a loss of six on the Greene handoff, but on a second look, it appears the blocking is set up to give Tebow a running lane to his left -- and that’s before Austin Howard and Brandon Moore finished pulling.
5: The number of times Kyle Wilson and Cromartie were each thrown at. The mystery coming into Sunday’s game was how often Wilson, normally the team’s slot cornerback, would be attacked in the absence of Darrelle Revis and for the most part he held his own. In the first half, it looked like the Steelers were picking on Cromartie moreso, favoring that matchup with Wallace.
10: Snaps for Vladimir Ducasse, who came in for Matt Slauson on certain drives. Ryan said that Ducasse has earned some playing time but would not say there was a re-opening of the left guard competition from camp this summer. Ducasse said that the coaches have told him to be ready since the Week 1 matchup against the Bills.
Bart Scott has gotten a bum wrap over the last season for missing tackles, but it’s hard to argue with a linebacker that was directly responsible for the loss of 17 net yards on Sunday and the loss of a down. Even though he didn’t get the tackle on Isaac Redman on the opening-drive seven-yard loss, he made the initial hit, closing a distance of nine yards in 1.5 seconds. The second came on the intentional grounding called on Roethlisberger in the third quarter with 1:08 to go. He missed the sack -- who doesn’t against Roethlisberger, though -- but the perfectly-timed blitz forced the uncomfortable throw.
Does Jerricho Cotchery help identify a Jets blitz with 10:28 to go in the first? It’s hard to tell based on the angle of the camera, but someone on the Steelers makes a “boom” call during one of Cotchery’s first snaps. He comes back toward Roethlisberger in motion before the Steelers QB makes an “alert” call and Cotchery goes back to his spot. It could be nothing, but it would be interesting to see how much he remembers of the defense he saw in practice.
Jeff Cumberland needs to make a head’s up play on that third-and-5 with 9:39 to go in the third quarter. There are six Steelers showing rush and Cumberland still runs the initial route. That’s a potential first down if read correctly, and a play Keller and Mark Sanchez have down pat.
Ellis Lankster was left in single coverage a few times, most importantly against Brown on a big third-and-8 in the first quarter when the Steelers still trailed, 7-3. Lankster doesn’t have any safety help over top and Brown is able to put a nice move on him, adjusting back toward the ball for the catch. Lankster has made a lot of strides during camp, and was really only responsible for that one reception, but that was a tough situation to play Brown head up.
In looking at Greene’s 9-yard run where he hits his head, you have to give credit to Sanchez for sending him back to the sidelines after he stumbled his way back into the huddle. Running backs coach Anthony Lynn told me that they’re working on getting him to avoid the safety this season instead of seeking contact.
Clyde Gates makes a nice grab for his first catch as a Jet. With 5:02 left in the first quarter, right before Holmes’ touchdown grab, Sanchez finds him on a 10-yard out right on the sideline. Gates, who played seven snaps, has above average speed, which may have been the difference between him and Patrick Turner.
On the Sanchez hit by Lawrence Timmons, you cannot fault the offensive line, who formed a perfect wedge as Sanchez rolled out of the pocket and began to improvise. Powell, who is getting some well-deserved praise for his role as a pass-blocker, shields Ziggy Hood from making a play. He is 1-on-1 the entire time.