Jets Preseason Grades: Risers and fallers from 27-0 win

Jets risers and fallers from win over Panthers
New York Jets defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson (93) sacks Carolina Panthers quarterback Bryce Young (9) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Erik Verduzco)

As preseason victories go, Saturday evening might have been one of the more impressive for the New York Jets in recent memory. 

New York sat a majority of their key starters but saw several role players dominate the hapless starters for Carolina in a 27-0 thrashing. It was the type of win that will only increase the level of hype surrounding the 2023 team as they prepare for the start of the regular season. 

As always, not everyone was as dominant as the score read. Today we look at those that are rising on the depth chart and those that are falling after the Jets’ second preseason game.

Rising: Second-Team Defensive Line

Jets dominate Panthers
New York Jets linebacker Jermaine Johnson (11) hits Carolina Panthers quarterback Matt Corral (2) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Saturday, Aug. 12, 2023, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

Duh. When you get 10 pressures and five total sacks against a first-team offensive line, the entire group should be highlighted. The combination of Jermaine Johnson, Will McDonald IV, Quinton Jefferson, and Bryce Huff were incredible on Saturday. It seemed that with every offensive snap taken by a Panthers’ quarterback, he was instantly pressured from the edge. 

Keep in mind this was also without Quinnen Williams, Carl Lawson, and John Franklin-Myers. This group is dangerous and could be one of the best position groups in all of football. 

Falling: Zonovan Knight

Knight may have been having a good camp to this point and outplaying Michael Carter but that script has flipped over the last week and especially on Saturday. Carter totaled over 50 yards of offense thanks to leading the team in receiving on the day. He looked far more decisive than Knight and showed why the Jets have been very high on him since his rookie season. 

Now, New York could decide to keep four running backs on the roster while also moving on from the Dalvin Cook sweepstakes. If that happens, it seems that Knight and Carter would both be safe. If the Jets do sign Cook though, one of the two veterans will be on the chopping block. 

Based on Saturday’s results, it’ll be Knight. 

Rising: Mekhi Becton

It was a monumental day for the Jets and their former first-round tackle. Mekhi Becton may have been given up a sack and pressure to start the game, but he played over 25 snaps – the total the Jets wanted him to reach early in this preseason. Becton showed that he could stay healthy on the field for an entire game Saturday, and after his slow start, he played pretty well. New York will need to determine if he should be given chances with the first-team offensive line this week against Tampa Bay, but it’s certainly becoming something the team should have no issue with to solve their offensive tackle questions. 

Falling: Jamien Sherwood

It’s not that the young linebacker had a bad game, it was more that his competition played better than him. Zaire Barnes was all over the field Saturday with several big defensive plays for the Jets. Barnes led the team in tackles with seven and even recorded a tackle for loss. Sherwood didn’t play nearly as much as Barnes but only racked up two tackles. The Jets’ linebacking core doesn’t seem to be too much of an issue, especially their depth which appears to get better by the week, but Sherwood will need to show more in his limited time this preseason.

Rising: Joe Tippmann

Another game, another dominating performance from the Jets’ second-round pick this year. Tippmann played over 50 snaps for the team on Saturday and did not give a single pressure in the passing attack. In the run, the former Wisconsin product was stout. He was the catalyst for the Jets rushing for over 140 yards on 37 carries. 3.8 yards per carry may not seem like a lot, but Tippmann was truly one of the better players on the field Saturday. 

Falling: Jason Brownlee

Brownlee’s dynamic start to training camp has faltered over the last few weeks and with it, his chance to make the final 53-man roster. The more Jets’ quarterbacks target the tight ends on game day, the less likely Brownlee will be given the chances he needs to stand out in a major way. If the team decides to keep six wide receivers, it seems like Brownlee will lose out to Malik Taylor as of this moment. 

Rising: Zach Wilson

Zach Wilson continues to make smart plays in game situations, even if they aren’t the most exciting. Wilson was decisive and quick to get the football out on Saturday and had one of his best games since coming to the NFL two years ago. The former second-overall pick finished 14-20 passing for 123 yards and a score. His two-minute drill offense was very encouraging as it showed he can process quickly while not forgetting his fundamentals. 

If something were to happen to Aaron Rodgers this year, the team should feel confident in what they’ve seen from his immediate backup this year.

Rising: Brandin Echols

Bryce Hall might be the top backup corner as long as Echols is dealing with his suspension, but the latter had the better game on Saturday. Echols was tested by Bryce Young throughout the game and showed he was more than up to the challenge. New York should feel very good with the fact they not only have the top cornerback duo in football but they also have quality backups right behind them.

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