Todd Bowles and the New York Jets helped the Cleveland Browns end their streak of over 600 calendar days since their last victory by using a combination of lousy discipline, odd play calling and poor execution in a game that saw them blow a 14-0 lead to fall to 1-2. Here’s how we graded them.
As expected, rookie quarterback Sam Darnold spent a good amount of time under duress, but even when he had the time or space to make a play, he couldn’t do much more than complete a screen pass as broken down by Rich Cimini of ESPN New York.
Jets passing offense was conservative. Darnold was 6-of-8 for 63 yards and 5 first downs on screen passes. On all other passes, he went 9-of-23 (39%) with 2 Int and just 4 first downs on all other passes. #Jets
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) September 21, 2018
Running Backs: C-
This grade is a bit higher if Isaiah Crowell doesn’t use the ball as a prop to “wipe” his backside after scoring a touchdown, leading to better field position for the Browns on their ensuing drive. Crowell (2 touchdowns) and Bilal Powell both had stretches where they ran the ball effectively, but Jeremy Bates did little to use it to his advantage by calling some play action to take shots down the field. In all, Jets backs finished with 107 yards and two touchdowns on 30 carries.
Wide receivers: D
Outside of Quincy Enunwa, this group was largely invisible on the day. The group had a total of 10 receptions for 139 yards. Of those totals, Enunwa accounted for six of the receptions for 57 yards. Robby Anderson had yet another killer fumble that gave the Browns some easy points, and one of the few positives was an incredible catch over the middle on 4th & 10 late in the game from Jermaine Kearse, who needs to be more involved moving forward.
Tight Ends: C-
Tough night to grade this group because they were asked to stay in and block quite a bit. Eric Tomlinson and Chris Herndon each had two targets, combining for just four receptions for 13 yards.
Offensive Line: D
A second consecutive tough game for the Jets saw Sam Darnold having to improve quite a bit to avoid getting sacked. Myles Garrett Cleveland’s only two sacks, but there was plenty of pressure from elsewhere. The Jets running attack did bounce back and rip off some chunk plays, but Jeremy Bates went to the well a few times too many and the Browns adjusted, shutting down the ground attack.
Defensive Line: C
Led by Henry Anderson and Steve McLendon, the Jets front seven was on fire early on, hitting Tyrod Taylor early and often. However, once Baker Mayfield came on in relief, the Jets appeared to go in to a shell, allowing Mayfield to sit back and pick the defense apart. Going in to last night, Leonard Williams had picked up a full sack in a game just twice in his last 28 contests. Didn’t expect much from him last night, but didn’t expect him to be a non-factor. Curious to take a second look on the All 22.
Leonard Williams has just two full sacks in his last 28 NFL games. Not likely to add to that against strong interior O-line for the Browns with mobile Tyrod Taylor at QB.
— Glenn Naughton (@AceFan23) September 20, 2018
Like the rest of the defense, this unit was gassed in the closing minutes, but they did all they could to secure the win. Avery Williamson had 14 tackles, 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble while Darron Lee came away with a couple of tackles for loss and looked to have a sack on Tyrod Taylor that he wasn’t given credit for as Taylor was ruled to be a runner and not a passer after tucking the ball. Jordan Jenkins had some hiccups against the run, but also had a strip sack that was recovered by the Browns.
Jamal Adams was disruptive early on when the Jets were attacking the quarterback and he was much more effective against David Njoku than he was when the pair met last season. Doug Middleton however, had two of the more costly plays in the game. At one point, he allowed the Browns to get down to the 1-yard line when he failed to bat a pass out of Jarvis Landry’s hands despite being in perfect position to do so. Even worse, on a drive that saw the Browns kick a field goal, Mayfield threw what should have been a gift interception to Middleton, but the safety allowed the ball to get past his hands and bounce harmlessly off of his shoulder pad.
Trumaine Johnson benefitted from and underthrown pass from Tyrod Taylor when he was beat on a deep ball and was hit with a dumb penalty that helped the Browns keep moving the ball when he hung around to taunt a Browns receiver after making a catch near the sideline. This team is nowhere near good enough to be taunting anyone.
Special Teams: C+
Lac Edwards averaged 49.1 yards per punt and Jason Myers hit his only field goal attempt from 28 yards out and was a perfect 2-2 on extra points. Kevin Pierre-Louis had a blocked punt that grabbed the Jets some early momentum but it wasn’t enough.
This one should be the beginning of the end for Todd Bowles. Staring blankly at the field from the sideline devoid of any emotion works fine when you’re winning. When you’re losing and your players feel comfortable committing stupid penalties time and again, it’s clear that there’s no respect for the staff or the team. Jeremy Bates has to do a better job of play calling when the run game is working instead of running it over and over again until you start getting stuffed and wind up in 3rd & long situations.
Another game or two like this, and the wheels on the 2018 season could come off much faster than many expected when the season kicked off.