Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill had an unpleasant time Sunday as the Jets’ pass rush wrecked Tannehill in the pocket.
Tannehill was pressured on an impressive 37.5% of his 56 dropbacks, a major reason for the Jets’ first win. The 21 pressures were third most in an NFL game this season, according to Next Gen Stats.
Qunnien Williams finished with two sacks, Bryce Huff had 1.5 and John Franklin-Myers had one.
Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich was able to dial up pressure with creative blitzes. That’s how Bryce Hall and Quincy Williams were able to get Tannehill to the ground.
But guess who was equally as good?
The cornerbacks. Without them, the pass rush doesn’t log seven sacks. They were able to make Tannehill consistently hold the ball and that allowed the defensive line to get home, something Robert Saleh has preached throughout the year.
“We’ve got a young secondary back there who is doing everything they can to buy the d-line a hitch on the quarterback and if that quarterback hitches, our d-line is taking a lot of pride in making sure that he gets hit,” Saleh said. “So, it’s really a team game and if our back end wasn’t covering the way they were — our d-line, doesn’t matter how good they are, they never get home. So, I think it’s a significant complement (to) rushing coverage.”
Granted, the Titans’ passing attack would have been different if Julio Jones and A.J. Brown played, but the secondary deserves credit. for playing well against who was in front of them.
None of the Titan receivers had a big game. The leading receiver for them was running back Jeremy McNichols, who finished with 74 yards. The receiver that did the most “damage” was Chester Rogers and he had only 63 yards.
Hall was targeted eight times and allowed only two receptions for 27 yards with two pass breakups. Michael Carter II allowed three catches for 27 yards and two first downs. Javelin Guidry allowed three receptions for 27 yards and one first down. Brandin Echols allowed for 25 yards and one first down, according to Pro Football Focus.
The most important part is the coverage was tight throughout the game. The Titans leading receiver in separation was Rogers at 2.51 yards; league average is 2.88 yards, according to Next Gen Stats.
That gave the pass rush time to constantly crush Tannehill.
“You saw Sunday a lot of one-on-one opportunities deep. And at the same time, it’s our job as coaches to make sure we kind of disguise that,” Saleh said. “This game of football is about winning one on ones on third down and two minutes, at all levels of football, whether you’re on offense or defense. And those guys are doing a really nice job in those situations.”
Going into the season, there were a plethora of concerns and questions about that unit. But they’ve held up to the challenge. The pass defense is allowing 226.2 yards per game, 12th fewest in the NFL. The secondary has played a major part in limiting opposing teams from airing it out.
“We wouldn’t listen to all the media stuff. We just put our heads down and work,” Guidry said. “We know we’re a young group, but we’re even more hungry as well. Just going out there each and every day practicing, just trying to get better each and every day and just make plays.”
Those concerns are starting to dissipate.
Receivers Elijah Moore and Jeff Smith missed the matchup with the Titans as both are in the concussion protocol.
Moore suffered a concussion on a jet sweep handoff against the Broncos when he was slammed on his head. And Smith was in a car crash on the way to practice on Wednesday.
Their availability for this week is promising, according to Saleh. Moore should be out of the protocol soon and Smith isn’t expected to be out much longer.
Brandin Echols suffered a concussion against the Titans on a head first tackle on Titans tight end Tommy Hudson. But the rookie cornerback’s early prognosis is positive as Saleh labeled him day-to-day.