Hopefully this team will show it has even more to offer over the next few weeks with the promise of even more reinforcements on the way in the shape of Sheldon Richardson, Devin Smith, Dee Milliner, Stevan Ridley and Oday Aboushi.
If you have any questions or would like me to look at something more closely, please leave your questions here in the comments, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet them to @bent_double and I'll respond in BGA Extra later this week.
There are links to each BGA article or the option to read the offensive and/or defensive BGA in full after the jump.
[sny-accordion title="To re-read the offensive BGA in full, click here"]In many respects, the Jets were extremely fortunate yesterday. The Browns lost their starting quarterback, fumbled on the goal line, missed an easy throw to the end zone and somehow failed to recover a loose ball inside the Jets' five-yard line but still led until late in the first half. The Jets blew them away in the second half, but a lot of that could be attributed to the fact Johnny Manziel had to play quarterback for them, something the Browns would have been able to gameplan around a lot more easily if presented with a bigger lead.
Let's not take anything away from Todd Bowles, though, as the Jets got the win and, in the final reckoning, a 31-10 opening day win looks pretty good.
As we move on to the positional reviews, I'll be recapping how the Jets handled the rotations on either side of the ball and looking at some specific game-planning, how that fed into the Jets' success and what we can expect to look for over the next few games.
Ultimately the win may have come at a cost, with starting cornerback Antonio Cromartie's prognosis set to be confirmed later today, but not looking good after he suffered a gruesome-looking knee injury in the first half. There was also major concern over back-up linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin, but thankfully it seems that while he did suffer a concussion, the long-term ramifications of his head/neck injury are not as bad as may have initially been feared.
In the grand scheme of things, though, it was ultimately a positive way to kick-off the season and to make a strong start with the new regime, although the games (on paper, at least) are going to get harder over the next few weeks.
1-0 feels nice, but there's still plenty of work to be done, so the Jets can't rest on their laurels. After all, they're still tied for last place!
In his first start for the Jets, Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 15 of 24 passes for 179 yards and two touchdowns. The majority of that production came in the second quarter, as he was 9 of 14 for 117 yards and a touchdown.
These numbers, and Fitzpatrick's performance, are nothing special, but they were solid and, really, that's all the Jets really want from the quarterback position. If Fitzpatrick can consistently replicate this kind of production, that will be a major upgrade over what they've attained from the position in recent years.
Fitzpatrick completed over 60% of his passes and threw more touchdowns than interceptions in yesterday's game. No big deal; maybe the football equivalent of a "quality start". Then again it's something Geno Smith has achieved just once in each of his first two seasons.
Fitzpatrick did throw the one interception though and it was a stark reminder that while the Jets will be hoping he'll bring some much-needed consistency to the position, he's not going to be perfect. On that particular play, it seemed like he under-estimated Tashaun Gipson's athletic ability as Gipson back-pedalled and made a leaping grab in front of Brandon Marshall. Many made the same mistake last year, as Gipson was among the league leaders in picks.
Marshall, of course, bailed Fitzpatrick out by stripping the ball away and the play ended up being a net 28-yard gain - the second most successful offensive play of the game - to set up the first Jets' touchdown.
Fitzpatrick did have one play to better that one in more conventional fashion, hitting Chris Owusu in stride down the seam. He also made a nice throw downfield into a tight window to Eric Decker.
Fitzpatrick had two touchdown passes and would have had a third on a screen pass if not for a holding penalty. His first was a repeat of something we saw in preseason against the Giants, as Decker ran a post route and Fitzpatrick just had to wait for him to clear the safety so he could fit the throw in there perfectly at the back of the end zone. His second was something which - along with the quick slant to the same person - is going to be a big red zone weapon for the Jets this year, as he threw up a fade route jump ball for Marshall. As simple as Chris Paul getting in the lane and just lobbing it up near the rim for an easy throwdown.
The Jets could have a potent red zone offense this year and they scored four touchdowns on five trips without overusing the Marshall option. The only time they failed, they were pretty close, with Bilal Powell open on a post pattern from the slot but the pass was deflected away on another athletic play, this time by linebacker Barkevious Mingo.
On the whole, Fitzpatrick showed good pocket presence, took few risks and was mostly accurate. He also showed good patience on one late-developing screen and smartly threw at his receiver's feet on another that clearly wasn't going to work rather than try to force anything. His numbers were low mainly because he didn't need to throw the ball in the fourth quarter.
None of this passing production represents the most incredible thing Fitzpatrick did in yesterday's game though. How on earth did he come up with this ball?
I was impressed with the Jets' recovering fumbles on defense, but Fitzpatrick obviously decided it was so easy he could do it standing on his head. Or maybe he just wanted to show off his break-dancing skills.
Veteran center Nick Mangold probably won't grade out that well in this game, but it was a gutsy display to see him go back into the game after suffering what was obviously a stinger in the third quarter. Mangold dealt with a stinger once before - back in August 2011 - and his status for the opener was in doubt at the time.
After suffering that injury, Mangold did have some issues in terms of preventing penetration and sustaining his blocks, but he's such an integral cog that the fact he was out there at all was important to the team locking down the win in the second half. It was still only 14-10 when Mangold got hurt.
While his injury seemed to limit him so he wasn't his usual consistently dominant self in the second half, Mangold still had some great blocks, mostly before he got hurt. Perhaps his best moment saw him controlling his man at the point of attack to create a big lane on the first touchdown. Mangold also worked well in tandem with both guards to anchor the line which seems to be coming together nicely.
As an interesting side-note, on the only snap Mangold missed, emergency center Dakota Dozier saw action on his first offensive play in the NFL. On that play, the Jets scored a touchdown. That sounds pretty unique, but actually the same thing happened to Brian Winters on his first offensive snap in the NFL - the game-winning touchdown catch by Santonio Holmes against the Bills in September 2013. In each case, that would be their only snap of the game. Yesterday, Winters was the only active lineman not to see action on offense until the last two minutes.
Yes, that means Brent Qvale got into the game earlier than that. He replaced Willie Colon at right guard with two minutes left as the Jets were running out the clock but also came in at left tackle on a goal line play - with D'Brickashaw Ferguson moving to tight end and declared as eligible on the play. I wonder if the Jets will try and get Ferguson a touchdown at some point this season.
For Colon and right tackle Breno Giacomini, it was good to see a disciplined performance with no penalties. On the basis of yesterday's evidence, I think Colon is going to have a much better season in the running game this year. He actually had a rough start, but got stronger and more consistent as the game went on. It was good to see him hustling across to make a screen block on Desmond Bryant, but Bryant actually lowered his shoulder and knocked Colon flying as he tried to light him up. That's perhaps a reminder that Colon's physicality is not where it once was, but at least his consistency in the running game was good. Giacomini allowed a couple of guys to get off his block to make a play, but did make some good second level and edge-setting blocks.
At left tackle, Ferguson got beaten a few times in the running game, but did make some key contributions as well, staying on his block on the edge a few times and driving his man downhill on a short yardage conversion.
The newest starter, James Carpenter, made the most impact blocks in the running game and also had a great block on a screen play that went for a first down. His ability to make blocks on the move, turn his man to seal him off on the interior and drive his man downfield creates some huge running lanes. While he had a couple of plays in space where he wasn't able to make his block cleanly and also was stood up at the line a couple of times to see runs bottled up at the point of attack, you'll usually find him making a key block on any run that pops to the second level.
In terms of pass protection, the Jets will be happy that Fitzpatrick wasn't sacked and didn't have to deal with much pressure.
Fitzpatrick was under pressure a couple of times from some unblocked rushers off the edge but was able to get rid of the ball quickly. Otherwise, the Jets prevented any interior pressure by doing a good job of picking up stunts and delayed blitzes. There was one play where Ferguson got driven upfield on a stunt and Fitzpatrick ended up getting hit and another where Giacomini was beaten to the inside. Ferguson did give up a couple of pressures, although something he doesn't get enough credit for is his ability to recover. On one play, he lost leverage at the snap and this would usually result in a clean hit on the quarterback, but he managed to stay on his block and ride his man upfield to give Fitzpatrick the ability to avoid getting hit and get rid of the ball.
On balance, I'd say the Jets won the battle upfront, but I was impressed with the Browns who have definitely upgraded since last year, so hopefully this wasn't a case of them beating up on a weak opponent.
The Jets compiled some excellent rushing numbers (154 yards and two scores at a 4.3 yards per carry average) behind a solid run-blocking performance to drive their performance. Once again, it was Chris Ivory who led the way, but Bilal Powell also made some excellent contributions.
Ivory seemed to display excellent vision. So much so that I couldn't always decipher where his cutback runs were as a result of a great play design or just a terrific initial read by him. He bounced a couple of runs outside for good yardage where they would have been stuffed if he took the ball up the middle and had a couple of plays where he should have been stuffed for a loss but managed to break tackles to get positive yardage.
Both his touchdowns were pretty easy, though, and if the Jets can block this well all season and Ivory can stay healthy, he's going to rack up some big numbers.
The only negatives I had on Ivory were two plays that weren't really his fault - one saw him tripped by a defender's trailing leg as it looked like he had a big alley to run through off-tackle and another saw him absolutely nailed as he tried to pound it in at the goal line. He could actually have had four touchdowns, coming up half a yard short on that play and then also having a score on a screen pass that was negated by a hold.
Powell assumed his role as the third down back and quietly racked up 78 yards from scrimmage himself. He was also on the field for the go-ahead two-minute drill. He accounted for four first downs, one on a short yardage conversion, one on a screen pass and two on runs bounced outside.
Powell also caught a short pass on a flat route from the slot, a nice wrinkle to enable the backs to pick up an easy five yards with a potential for more if you can shake a defender and something the Jets used extensively in preseason. On another play from the slot, he ran a post route to the end zone and was open, but the passed was deflected incomplete.
The Jets didn't need to leave the backs in very often in pass protection, but Powell did have one good blitz pick-up.
At fullback, Tommy Bohanon didn't play very much with the Jets - as anticipated - motioning receivers and tight ends into the backfield quite a lot instead and seemingly having just as much success when they did so.
It's perhaps a surprise that the Jets, who consistently activated four backs last season, only had three active for this game. However, maybe keeping Zac Stacy fresh will have its own benefits. Don't forget that Stevan Ridley could join the fray later in the year too.
It was almost half time and key offseason acquisition Brandon Marshall had zero catches as the Jets trailed the Browns at home. He'd been unsuccessfully targeted twice, allowing a defender to knock a deep ball away from him at the last moment and also had committed a holding penalty to wipe a touchdown off the board.
What a bust, right? Actually, no, because Marshall is going to produce and he displayed that over the remainder of the game despite facing the formidable Joe Haden when on the outside and constant double teams when lined up in the slot. On that late second quarter drive, Marshall came back to the ball three times on the outside for receptions as the Jets marched downfield to take a lead they would not relinquish. He ended up with six catches, including a diving toe-tap catch on the sideline (which, yes, I do think would have held up if they reviewed it) and a short touchdown on a jump-ball that he made look easy. And I haven't even mentioned the strip he had after Tashaun Gipson's interception. Making the plays you're expected to make is one thing, but true greatness comes from making things happen on top of that.
Watching Marshall and Haden go at it, I was reminded of how Marshall has said that playing against Darrelle Revis this offseason has made him a better player and Haden is actually one of the toughest match-ups he'll see all year, so this should be a sign of things to come.
There could be more to come though. Read on for details.
We've heard all offseason how Marshall's presence is going to open things up for Eric Decker and there were signs of that yesterday. With the Browns by their own admission doubling Marshall at times, this obviously opens things up. Decker had just two catches for 37 yards and a touchdown, but the best example of this was on another play where he was just overthrown on a deep ball. Let's revisit that:
Above is the pre-snap alignment. Nothing remarkable here, although it's worth noting that Ryan Fitzpatrick got at least three defensive players in the back seven to flinch with a hard count. That creates a "tell" in terms of where their first step would be at the snap. Fitzpatrick, now having a good idea of what the coverage is, "kill-killed" the initial play (perhaps a run) and audibled.
As the play gets underway, Fitzpatrick looks right to Marshall. However, he's not necessarily going there, he just needs to keep the safety over on that side of the field, which seems to have happened as each receiver gets ready to make their break.
Marshall breaks to the inside, forcing the safety (now off the screen) to come up, so now Fitzpatrick can look at the options on his left. Decker keeps running on a go route and has half a step on his man. Tight end Kellen Davis breaks to the outside. The other safety can either provide deep support to the cornerback, leaving Davis wide open on the outside or he can recover to track Davis. He does the latter, leaving Decker with a step deep. Ultimately, it's an overthrow, perhaps caused by the fact that D'Brickashaw Ferguson allowed his man to penetrate the pocket. Better pass protection there - two backs did stay in - and that could have been a long gain or even a touchdown.
Also, the Jets kept one potent bullet in their chamber by not going to the quick slant which Marshall made some impressive plays on this preseason. That's going to be a go-to play for them, so it makes sense not to overuse it.
Of the other receivers, much will be made of the fact that Jeremy Kerley was not featured. Kerley played just one offensive snap, running a quick out from a trips/bunch formation on the right side, out of which Chris Owusu emerged running a seam route for a 43-yard catch. Owusu had another three short catches and also contributed a couple of good blocks.
As anticipated, Quincy Enunwa motioned to the edge or into the backfield quite a lot, but I was surprised that Owusu also did some of that. I was also surprised to see Enunwa stay in to pass protect three times. On each occasion, he picked up the blitz well, although on one of those he did get shoved back into Fitzpatrick. Enunwa did not catch a pass, but his clear-out route from the slot did open a window for Decker's downfield catch on Fitzpatrick's first pass.
At tight end, both Davis and Jeff Cumberland were non-factors in the passing game. Cumberland played less than 30 snaps for the first time since 2013 week four. The blocking from the tight end position was not good with Cumberland routinely overpowered and unable to sustain blocks and Davis also letting his man get off his block to make a couple of plays. To Cumberland's credit, though, he did block more effectively from the fullback position, even pancaking a run-blitzer on the last touchdown.
So far, Chan Gailey is creating a lot of misdirection by motioning a player to one side and then getting them to come underneath the formation at the snap. This does create confusion and also provides some alternative options such as running play-action and finding that player in the flat. Cumberland needs to get out of the way when he does this though as he has a tendency to get stuck in traffic.[/sny-accordion]
[sny-accordion title="To re-read the defensive and special teams BGA in full, click here"]Defensive Line
While this Muhammad Wilkerson contract stand-off has endured all offseason, I've been trying to rationalize it. Maybe Wilkerson's role is more affordably replaceable with Bowles' scheme. Maybe Leonard Williams is going to play so well that he becomes surplus to requirements. Maybe I just overrated him this whole time.
Yesterday's game assuredly confirmed one thing: This Wilkerson guy is good, you guys. Like, really, really good.
When I read that the main difference between this system and the one Rex employed was that the linemen were coached up to be aggressive and not to worry about making reads, I was concerned that this would take away one of the best parts of Wilkerson's game (and Sheldon Richardson too, for that matter). Wilkerson is such an instinctive player that if you take that responsibility away from him, you not only limit what he can do, but perhaps make it uneconomical to consider paying him big money when you can get a less-talented player to do the same thing.
On the basis of yesterday's display, I did not need to be concerned. Any lingering concerns that Wilkerson might not be motivated to play well this year can be similarly set aside.
Wilkerson had a great performance, blowing up multiple runs, disrupting the pocket and drawing a ton of attention as he provided a reminder of why there's even a discussion taking place about whether he deserves to earn a contract approaching a nine-figure sum. He was credited with one sack, on one of the plays where Johnny Manziel fumbled and was hardly ever handled at the line despite the fact he saw plenty of attention from pro bowlers Alex Mack and Joe Thomas. He even ran over Mack up the middle for a pressure on one play.
If Williams is going to be better than Wilkerson one day, he still has a way to go, but it was still a solid debut from the rookie. He did a good job of bottling up runs, getting penetration and forcing the quarterback out of the pocket. Williams almost had a couple of sacks, missing one chance to make a tackle in the pocket and tripping Johnny Manziel for a short gain on a play where he had to take off. There was one play against the run where a good reach block prevented him from getting downhill, but otherwise he wasn't blocked out of too many plays.
Anchoring the line, Damon Harrison had a couple of tackles in the backfield, including one on a play where Wilkerson blew up a double-team to free him up. He also got some good defensive penetration. However, he was driven out of the middle more than you would usually expect to see. I think Harrison probably has the biggest adjustment to make in terms of the new system, so would expect him to get better as the season goes along.
You have to give Leger Douzable credit. The fan favorite was a late re-addition in free agency and his roster spot wasn't exactly secure when they brought in three veterans including a player who had played for Bowles in the past. However, he's been playing with the first-team nickel all preseason and has kept that role into the regular season, even with Wilkerson's return. He, for the time being, has a pretty significant role. It will be interesting to see how that changes when Richardson is back.
Douzable might not rack up big numbers, but did a consistent job of driving back the pocket to enable other players to generate pressure or force the quarterback out of these. He also drew two holding penalties, one on Mack as he was able to stunt up the middle and would have hit the quarterback and another as he was tackled to the ground while Manziel took off and he tried to make the tackle. He did jump offside once though, almost timing the snap count well enough to tackle the quarterback before he handed the ball off.
I liked the fact that TJ Barnes and Stephen Bowen got a handful of reps off the bench. Under Rex Ryan, defensive players would often be active but then not get many reps as he overused his starters. It wasn't exactly encouraging to see the run defense gashed as soon as they entered the game though, as both were handled at the line. Bowen does get some good traction going forwards, but does seem to risk a hands-to-the-face call quite a lot.
This is probably the last person you expected me to kick off this section by talking about, but I was very interested to see how the Jets used Erin Henderson in this game.
Check out this nickel personnel package, from which the Jets rushed seven and Marcus Williams intercepted a rushed Johnny Manziel pass:
The Jets have three linebackers on the field with Demario Davis lined up on the edge and Henderson in the game. Leger Douzable, Leonard Williams and Lorenzo Mauldin are on the line with your basic five defensive back personnel group on the back end.
The Jets employed this a lot on third down and it's a personnel package Todd Bowles was unable to employ last year because he didn't have enough linebackers to do it, often opting to run one linebacker nickel and dime packages. While he ended up only playing seven snaps, this is a good way to get Henderson a role where he can make some contributions.
In terms of the starters, let's begin with Calvin Pace who was credited with just one downfield tackle and generated no pressure off the edge, but I have to give him credit for an outstanding job of setting the edge. This won't factor into his statistical production and probably not even into his run defense grades, but he did an excellent job of forcing his blocker upfield and preventing the runner from having an option to bounce the run outside. Pace did have one missed tackle, but this was again a positive outcome as he stretched the run out and slowed down the runner enough that a teammate was able to prevent him from getting to the edge.
Quinton Coples was quiet on the stat sheet, but quietly had one of his more impressive games as a pass rusher given the match-up. Lined up on the right over three quarters of the time, he mostly found himself matched up with pro bowler Joe Thomas and he did a consistent job of driving his man back in the pocket (even when it was Thomas) and causing the quarterback to be flushed from the pocket. He was officially credited with one quarterback hit, on a play where he overpowered the tight end, but he also generated pressure by beating Thomas on the outside on another play.
Coples did jump offside once and also was quiet in the running game, although he wasn't blocked out of many plays and the one tackle he did have was a stuff for no gain. He did drop into coverage three times, on one occasion preventing a throw by staying with a primary option in the flat on a similar play to the one he got burned on in preseason. On another play, he was in zone coverage on the right side and looked a little unsure about whether to vacate that zone and pursue the quarterback when he rolled out. I do like the fact that his role had him rushing the passer 55% of the time, as that's an increase on last year (46%).
As I mentioned in the previous article, Todd Bowles' system apparently requires the linemen to do less reading and reacting. That being the case, presumably that places more of an onus on the inside linebackers to do that. I was wondering how they would respond to that and it was interesting to compare.
David Harris had a productive game and wasn't blocked out of many plays, capping off his day with a sack as he blew up the running back. Davis, on the other hand, had less of an impact against the run and was blocked out of the middle on a couple of plays. Perhaps his biggest contribution was that, while it was not him that knocked the ball loose, Davis was the one whose helmet collided with Josh McCown and knocked him out of the game.
In Henderson's package work, he blitzed most of the time, generating one pressure on the play where Harris was out with an eye injury.
As with the defensive line, Bowles gave some playing time to Mauldin and Trevor Reilly and they each responded well. While he didn't get credit for it on the stat sheet, Mauldin did poke the ball loose from Manziel on the play where he got hurt. Obviously we are grateful to hear that's not as serious as it might have been. Mauldin also had a fumble recovery that was negated when Manziel was ruled down, but he was kicked out on one running play. Reilly had a strip sack on a play where he was initially blocked out of the play but kept coming and Manziel was flushed into him. In addition, he added one other pressure and held up pretty well setting the edge on one running play.
Calvin Pryor still has plenty of work to do, as evidenced by the near-miss over the top as the Browns went after him on the first play. However, the turnover he forced at the goal line was a huge play and over the course of the game he had one of his most disciplined performances.
As expected, he didn't play every snap - Jaiquawn Jarrett rotated in for four plays and the Jets had just one safety in on three others - and he wasn't constantly in the box, but he had one of his most productive games with a team-leading and career-high 10 tackles.
Most encouragingly of all, there were no real examples of him taking a bad angle and his tackling was extremely consistent. He also gave up just 15 yards on six targets in coverage.
Other than almost getting beaten on the first play, Pryor did get beaten for one other first down and there was a play where the Jets were lucky not to be punished on which it was obvious from the way Demario Davis reacted that Pryor was out of position in coverage. So, there's still some room for improvement, but this was a definite step in the right direction.
If Jarrett is going to push Pryor for more reps, he didn't help himself here. Initially on the field with one of the nickel packages, Jarrett collided with Darrelle Revis and then slipped over in coverage to give up a first down. He then wasn't able to get over on the deep throw for the Browns' touchdown. On that particular play, Antonio Cromartie obviously expected help from the inside and on the other side of the field the Jets had two players matched up with slot receivers that blitzed so the safety on the other side came up to pick up one and a linebacker ran across from the right side of the formation to pick up the other. Jarrett should probably therefore have taken a deeper drop, but it's possible Cromartie was the one who missed a sign. Either way, Cromartie had no chance to recover once he basically passed off the receiver to the inside.
Other than that play, Cromartie wasn't really tested. He did have the fumble recovery in the end zone and there was a scramble where he overpursued badly in the open field. News is just breaking that his apparent season-ending injury is nowhere near as bad as first thought and he might even be able to play on Monday, which is incredible considering how ugly that looked.
Either way, the Jets probably regret using the IR-DFR designation on Dee Milliner because if they didn't then Milliner could fill in as soon as he is ready (which would presumably be before week 10 which is the earliest he can return at the moment). You don't have to use that designation on the day after cut-downs. A guy like Milliner being on IR longer than he needs to be and in a situation where he could be useful is not the reason the rule was introduced, but teams are abusing it as a way to keep young players from being exposed on the practice squad and that's disappointing. Had they taken the risk with Jarvis Harrison or Deon Simon, neither of whom were that impressive in preseason, then that designation would still be available now for a guy like Lorenzo Mauldin or Cromartie himself.
In other news, it was somewhat surreal to witness the return of a Jets icon and almost felt like he'd never been away as he got a massive ovation and helped spur the Jets to another big win. That's enough about Fireman Ed though, how do we feel about the return of Darrelle Revis?
By his standards, it wasn't his best game, as he gave up three first down catches on six targets, had another first down dropped, got credit for breaking up a short pass that was actually caught but never reviewed and had a pass dropped while in coverage. Still, he nearly scored on a fumble return, was in good position on another incompletion and two of the first downs he gave up were a little unfortunate as he slipped on one and the other came as the Jets blitzed six and it got picked up perfectly, giving the quarterback extra time to find the receiver working back to the ball. I still need to see him in a match-up with a viable number one receiver, which the Browns lack.
The other starter, Marcus Gilchrist, didn't have a massive impact but still racked up six tackles, including one on third down to force a punt. He did get blocked out of the hole on one running play and there was also a play in zone coverage where he was late getting over and left the receiver open in the end zone behind Quinton Coples but the Jets were fortunate that the throw wasn't accurate enough and the receiver came down out of bounds.
Marcus Williams replaced the injured Cromartie and the Browns sure did go after him with seven targets. He held up well though, intercepting one and breaking up another two. Williams was the only defensive back with a penalty, but that came while blocking for Revis. He did give up a couple of first downs, including a 20-yard gain, but the Jets can feel pretty confident about how well he stepped up, especially since he was challenged so much.
Finally, Buster Skrine saw his role increased when Cromartie went down. He played on the outside in base packages and reverted to the slot in the nickel. He gave up one first down and almost had a forced fumble on Johnny Manziel, who was ruled down.
Special teams were such a non-factor early on in this one it looked like it was going to present too much of a challenge to even come up with anything interesting to write about. However, there were one or two more interesting special teams plays in the second half.
The first thing to pay attention to is the new extra point rules. They didn't have an impact on this game, with Nick Folk making all four, but this does jeopardize his consecutive extra points streak. That streak, which currently stands at 296, could challenge the NFL record (469) within about five years, depending how good his team's offense is. However, the chances of him maintaining that now he has to kick an effective 33-yarder are reduced. Folk has missed six field goals of less than 30 yards in his career.
If Folk is able to keep his streak going despite the longer kicks that would be an amazing achievement. However, almost every kick he attempts these days is almost blocked by someone coming off the left side of the defense with Jeff Cumberland consistently just throwing a token shove at them. I'd hate to see Folk get a kick blocked, whether or not it represented a personal milestone or a key kick for the Jets, because we've seen in the past that once he starts having unsuccessful kicks, Folk can get in a rut.
On one of those situations where Cumberland threw a token shove at someone coming off the edge, he ended up in a shoving match with a lineman and the Browns picked up a penalty for pulling Darrelle Revis off the pile. After that, the Jets kicked off from midfield and I got a kick (no pun intended) out of Folk booting it way out of the end zone as the coverage unit just ran down the field and fired up the crowd. All but one of Folk's kickoffs were touchbacks - remember when he was the worst kicker in the NFL at getting touchbacks when he first joined the team?
Punter Ryan Quigley had one good punt but then also had one short one from his end zone, giving the Browns great field position and another that went through the end zone.
The Jets' return game didn't generate much either. Chris Owusu, after all the fuss over who the kickoff returner would be, got no opportunities. Kellen Davis did field one and carried it out to about the 30 though. A well-rested Jeremy Kerley didn't have much success either. He got blown up once but did make the first man miss on the other one.
In coverage, only Darrin Walls and Jamari Lattimore had tackles. However, Walls, working as a primary gunner, also had a missed tackle and got burned by the Browns gunner while playing the vice role and Lattimore had a bad missed block. Bilal Powell also had a missed tackle.
The newest Jet Ronald Martin saw action on special teams and drew a holding penalty on one play.
Finally, an observation: Isn't it a little weird that left guard James Carpenter plays right guard on the placekicking unit while right guard Willie Colon plays left guard on the same unit?[/sny-accordion]
Here are the links to each of this week's BGA articles:
If you have anything you'd like me to take a closer look at or any other questions for me, leave them in the comments section of this post (please re-submit any questions you've asked in any of the above posts), tweet them to @Bent_Double or email email@example.com and I'll respond in BGA Extra on Wednesday or Thursday.