As expected, Erin Henderson was in the starting lineup alongside David Harris. Also as expected, Darron Lee entered the game on passing downs, which translated to more snaps than Henderson because the Jets were in nickel or dime the majority of the time -- mostly 4-2-5.
Lee's first game was interesting to review. He made some encouraging contributions, including a couple of tackles in the flat. However, there were a handful of plays where he had a blink-and-you-miss-it momentary hesitation and ended up getting there just too late. If he could've made quicker reads and arrived at the ball quicker, then there were at least three plays he potentially could have prevented from being a first down or touchdown.
Here's one of them, on the game-winning drive. It's nit-picking to the nth degree because Lee obviously stays at home until he's certain the ball hasn't been handed off to the back. But that false step in the other direction and his pursuit angle made all the difference in terms of him being able to make the stop short of the marker or maybe even close to the line of scrimmage.
It would have been a great play, so I'm not necessarily criticizing Lee here as much as suggesting he can be capable of making great plays if he starts making quicker reads once he gets comfortable in the system and with the speed of the NFL:
Of course, we said something similar about Demario Davis, whose inability to make decisive reads was his biggest weakness as a Jet. Hopefully Lee has better natural instincts and progresses more quickly in this area.
Henderson made a good start, blowing up the lead blocker on the first snap of the game to set up a run-stuff. However, he was quiet thereafter and found himself blocked out of a couple of plays.
Harris was his usual consistent self, getting in on a few stops near the line, including a nice open field tackle on a screen, and blowing up a short pass. He was blocked out of a few plays at the second level, though, and seemed to be at fault on a play where a wide open tight end dropped what should have been an easy touchdown. Bruce Carter didn't get any playing time, even when Lee was hurt for a short while. Julian Stanford got on the field for a few plays, though.
With 4-2-5 being the main formation employed, there weren't many reps available for the outside linebackers. Lorenzo Mauldin got most of his snaps as a defensive end in pass-rushing situations, but his one sack came as he lined up at middle linebacker on a blitz package. Mauldin set the edge well on a rare run snap, too.
Mike Catapano got the start but had a quiet game, although he didn't make any mistakes. The only other linebacker to get any reps was Josh Martin, who played just two snaps and missed a tackle on one of them. That was actually a positive play, though, as he got into the backfield and forced a runner to change direction.
Jordan Jenkins will perhaps be available on Thursday and should be fresh if he is. With the short week, it would be smart to use different personnel groupings for each game.
Perhaps they will play more four-linebacker packages on Thursday night so the likes of Jenkins, Catapano and Mauldin will be fresh enough to handle a much bigger workload in that game. That might also account for the wisdom behind giving plenty of reps to front-seven depth players in Sunday's game.
Next up … Struggles at the corner position as the Jets seemingly have no answer to AJ Green.