The Jets are 1-0 in the 2015 NFL season. After one week of play, they are in a four-way tie for the AFC East least as everybody in the division won its opener. Gang Green triumphed over the Cleveland Browns today at the Meadowlands. It was Todd Bowles' first win as Jets head coach in his first game. What happened? Let's talk about it below.
Brandon Marshall: Before we talk about what he brought to the table as a pass catcher today, we need to discuss what was the biggest play of the game. Down 7-0 in the second quarter, the Jets were on the move. Then Ryan Fitzpatrick threw an interception looking for Marshall deep. At that point, the Jets were struggling. Cleveland had gone up and down the field on the defense twice, while the offense was stalling. It might have been demoralizing to see a promising drive go down the tubes on an interception. How many Sanchez Era games got out of hand on a similar play? Marshall ran down Tashaun Gipson after Gipson picked off Fitzpatrick. He then ripped the ball from Gipson and ran it to the 9 yard line. The Jets then scored to tie the game and later took control.
Marshall helped them take control with 6 catches for 62 yards and a touchdown. Five of Marshall's six receptions resulted in either a first down or a touchdown. Three came on third down. It isn't just about his production. The Jets have not had a game-changing player on offense in years. Marshall has the talent to be that guy. When you don't have that type of game-changer, nothing comes easy. An offense has to execute play after play after play to find success. Marshall gives the Jets offense easy plays. You can throw it up to him and let him get it. Hopefully we will see plenty more from Marshall as the season progresses.
Chris Ivory: I was not that impressed by the run blocking of the offensive line. It seemed like Ivory had to burst to the perimeter and create his own yardage on most of his big plays. That makes his 91 yard, 2 touchdown outing on 20 carries even more impressive.
Calvin Pryor: After a lackluster preseason, there was room for mild concern about Pryor. He didn't look all that different from the rookie who struggled a year ago. If he looked like a rookie version of himself in preseason, today he looked like the player I am hoping he will become. Pryor led the Jets with 10 tackles. It wasn't just about the stats. It is the way he played. He was making plays to bail teammates out of trouble. On Josh McCown's scramble that otherwise would have resulted in a touchdown, he found the ball and forced a fumble. When Calvin Pace missed a tackle on a run to the edge, he was there to clean up. He made plays near the line and seemed to always be around the ball.
Marcus Williams: A year ago, I had mixed feelings on Williams. He got a lot of praise, but I felt like he was treading water. At the same time, treading water wasn't so bad from an undrafted small school rookie. His role on the 2015 Jets just might have gone way up after Antonio Cromartie's injury. He passed his first test with flying colors, registering a big interception and delivering a big hit to separate a receiver from the ball. Things are going to get tougher from here, but Williams has looked improved so far from what little we have seen from him in the preseason and regular season. He has upped his game and seized a role in a way Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle have not been able to yet. The work is going to get tougher from here, though.
Eric Decker: In an otherwise quiet game, Decker's touchdown before the half gave the Jets a lead they would never relinquish.
Damon Harrison: The new svelte Snacks had a nice 2015 debut. The Jets shut down the Cleveland run game, and Harrison was in the middle of it. He controlled the point of attack and finished with 5 tackles. I counted 3 that were for a loss.
Muhammad Wilkerson: Wilkerson also had 5 tackles and a sack and helped the Jets control the trenches.
Chris Owusu: He didn't get a chance to return a kick but was the second leading receiver with 4 catches for 55 yards. He 43 yarder in the second quarter breathed life into the offense. I'm starting to think Owusu is going to be a contributor on this team.
Bilal Powell: Powell's day started with a good blitz pick up as a pass blocker on a third down pass the Jets completed to move the sticks. He finished with a very solid 62 yards on 12 carries and looked pretty shifty doing it.
David Harris: There were 8 tackles and a sack on an effective day for the inside linebacker.
Ryan Fitzpatrick: I am under no illusions that Ryan Fitzpatrick is going to be a great quarterback for the Jets. His physical limitations and erratic decision-making will make sure of that. It is at least a refreshing change of pace to have a quarterback who understands the offense and has the ability to do basic things like throw with anticipation and set the protection. It is a step up from the last half decade of Jets football.
Lorenzo Mauldin: I hope he's going to be ok. On the play where he was injured, he forced a fumble.
Trevor Reilly: Reilly's sack was about hustle. Reilly ran himself out of the play rushing the passer, and then Johnny Manziel's lack awareness led Manziel to run Reilly back into the play. Reilly's motor let him get to Manziel, and he took advantage of the quarterback's lack of ball protection to force a fumble.
Demario Davis: I didn't think it was a particularly strong effort for Davis, but he helped Pryor throw the hit that forced Josh McCown's fumble and knocked the quarterback out of the game. That was a key play.
Quincy Enunwa: I thought he did a good job in pass protection. He had to move a long way to help pick up a couple of blitzes.
Blitzers: The Browns did a good job picking up Jets blitzers. It seemed like the guys on the field were not doing a good enough job disguising their plans. My bigger issue, though, was what looked like a lack of discipline. The Jets primarily play man to man in coverage. That means receivers are going to run the cover people far away from the line of scrimmage. That leaves a lot of running room when quarterbacks scramble. Blitzers need to be under control. They need to keep the quarterback in front of him. They can't go flying past him. That happened too frequently, and as a result, the only success the Browns had running the ball was on quarterback scrambles. McCown and Manziel combined for 58 yards on 8 scrambles. By comparison, the Browns' running backs had 46 yards on 20 runs. This is something the Jets need to correct.
Antonio Cromartie: I feel bad for picking on Cro when it looks like he suffered a serious injury. It looked like he released Travis Benajmin way too early on Cleveland's only touchdown, though, and let him inside.
Jaiquawn Jarrett: On the same touchdown, it did look like Jarrett was supposed to provide help. From the replay angles I saw, it seemed like he got lost. Rewatching the footage will provide more of an answer, but there seemed to be blame to go around. Jarrett also fell down as an early third down pass beat him to extend a Browns drive.
Tommy Bohanon: He got stuffed on an early fourth down attempt.
One down, eighteen to go on the quest for a perfect season.