Alright, so let me start by saying that I honestly was excited for this Monday Night Football matchup. That was... until I found out that Sam Darnold had mono and C.J. Mosley had a groin injury. Nonetheless, I was going to suck it up and try to enjoy the game that was going to unfold before my very eyes as much as humanly possible. The honest truth is, no matter how you slice it… this was one of the most boring football games I have seen in a very long time. Let's delve into why, shall we?
I’ll start with how the victors from last night looked: the Browns. On offense, the Browns had what I would call a perfectly average game. They didn’t do anything exceptionally, and they certainly were not super consistent, but they certainly did enough right to beat the Jets. According to my snap tracking from the game, the Browns played primarily in the shotgun (roughly 58% of snaps), while mainly mixing in singleback sets (roughly 29% of snaps) as backup to the shotgun sets. On very slight occasions, the Browns would pull out other formations such as the pistol (roughly 6% of snaps), as well as the empty set (roughly 4% of snaps) and finally the I-form (roughly 2% of snaps). One of the things slowing the Browns offense down was that Baker Mayfield had a tendency to overthrow/underthrow his players a little too much. It would rarely be a terrible ball but the honest truth is that he needs to be placing a decent amount of his balls just a bit better, especially with this receiving core. If he can hit players like OBJ, Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, Nick Chubb & soon(ish) to be Kareem Hunt in stride, this offense can be extremely lethal. I will also note that his single interception on the game was a forced pass to OBJ on a 2nd&14 when they were up by 20 with 10 minutes left in the 4th. The pass was a wobbler and was also thrown into double coverage, which just adds insult to injury.
He’s still a young quarterback who makes questionable decisions at times; he took a couple other shots in this game that were interceptable as well, so he has to clean that area of his game up for efficiency’s sake.
The player on offense that truly stood out on Monday night was Odell Beckham Jr., the man making his return to his old home at Metlife Stadium. OBJ caught 6 passes (including a beautiful one handed grab) for 161 yards as well as a touchdown, racking up yards with a flashy style as usual. On film, OBJ is so explosive and he truly is one of the games most dynamic playmakers. But don’t ask Jets defensive coordinator Greg Williams his opinion on the matter, seeing as he publicly disagreed with that notion in a press conference prior to the game. However, Williams should surely know better and he seemingly learned the truth when Odell took his Jets defense 89 yards to the house on a little slant route from inside the slot. Williams’s defense was so painfully unprepared on this play, as they literally left OBJ uncovered off the line of scrimmage and then completely failed to bracket him with the safety.
This was the moment the game felt dead and you knew that all the wind was out of the Jets sails.
The Browns defense looked very solid in Monday night's win, most notably how great the pressure they were getting looked all game long. The game plan was simple and it worked out perfectly; give them mainly nickel formations on defense which were great for covering the Jets 2nd and 3rd string quarterbacks throwing in mainly shotgun sets. There were also times in the game the Browns would load up 5-6 men on the line of scrimmage and absolutely demolish the Jets offensive line.
Myles Garrett was by far the best defensive player on the field, he racked up three sacks on the night and looked absolutely ferocious. However, he looks too ferocious at times and needs to tone it down a bit for the sake of not penalizing his team. He had a total of two roughing the passer penalties last night and both were huge hits that were late; he simply needs to show more discipline.
Now is the time we will shift our attention over to the Jets, who truly had a horrible performance. I honestly don’t even know where to start with this offense… so let’s start with this: The Jets ran an offensive scheme that mainly utilized shotgun plays (roughly 71% of snaps), often with receivers bunched on either side.
Other than running plays out of the gun, the Jets mainly ran the ball with Le’Veon Bell out of the singleback, while often bunching receivers here as well (roughly 17% of snaps),
occasionally attempting to run the ball out of the I-form (roughly 4% of snaps) as well as the wildcat formation with Bell (roughly 3% of snaps). Okay, now let's get down to what made this offensive performance so bad. I will start by addressing the overall lack of creativity and sense of giving a damn by the coaching staff in this game. They very often either ran the ball up the middle predictably or attempted to throw the ball to Le’Veon Bell out in the flats which would get swallowed up almost immediately. As I noted earlier, the O-line looked atrocious all day long, but the icing on the cake for this unit was how nearly every time the offense produced a productive pass play, it would be negated by a holding call. The Jets were obviously handicapped by the fact that they had to start this game with their 2nd string QB (Trevor Siemian) and then switch over to their 3rd stringer (Luke Falk) after Siemian suffered a horrible ankle injury. This must have completely threw off the snap cadence, and I completely understand this, but the lack of communication between the line and these QB’s at certain points of the game were just downright terrible, especially at home. The final thing I would like to reflect on about this offensive performance, is that the only momentum the Jets had all game was when they were driving down the field late in the 3rd quarter, and they ended this drive on their own 12 in a 4th&2 situation. Might I add that the very next play was where OBJ caught the 89 yard touchdown pass… ROUGH!
The Jets defense honestly looked pretty good for most of this game. You could definitely say that they held their own against a good offense, and most importantly they gave the Jets a slim chance to win this game. They played especially well considering how often their own offense was punting the ball back to the Browns. The Jets defensive game plan was also mainly consisting of nickel formations in order to slow down the Browns gun packages. What made the Jets defensive game plan relatively effective against the Browns pass attack was how they would generally have at least one safety bracketing the receiver who broke for the deep ball in the high zone.
Another thing I noticed, especially early on in this game, is how the Jets like to utilize lots of pre-snap motion on defense. They would bluff on blitzes a decent amount of the time to confuse Baker Mayfield on longer passing downs where linebackers would drop back into coverage. Also where one safety could be lined up near the line of scrimmage with one already in the defensive backfield, in which the safety closest to the line of scrimmage drops back to create something of a cover-2 look to the offense.
Another major positive that Jets fans can take away from this game, was that rookie linebacker Blake Cashman looked good in replacement for C.J mosley, seemingly the 5th round linebacker out of Minnesota could be one of the steals from this year’s draft.
Even though sitting through this game was very tough and felt incredibly long, it helped me learn multiple things about both of these teams that we will have to keep an eye on throughout the season. I think that the Browns have a lot of upside if they all can just get on the same page and become more disciplined, they are a young team and will have some learning curves to deal with throughout the season, they just need to stay focused and welcoming to the challenges that present themselves. The Jets on the other hand, look to be in a world of trouble right now. They are without their starting quarterback for an expected 3-4 games and have three very formidable opponents in the upcoming weeks. Those games will be against the Patriots, Eagles & Cowboys. The Jets have a lot of work to do in order to turn this ship around, mainly on offense. The question at this point is, how can they turn things around while being short handed? The next few weeks could prove to be very interesting for this franchise.