The Jets are 3-2 and tied for first place in the AFC East. A win, and somehow they are in front of the Patriots. That’s a fact.
The Jets aren’t that good and will miss the playoffs. That’s an opinion.
John McCown has passer rating of 90.5 for the season. That’s a statistic. There’s the old saying: lies, damn lies and statistics.
There are facts, opinions and statistics. While you can point to the stats and say he only had one interception and two touchdowns against the Browns, I’d argue the fact is he was at best manageable. The stats taken without video evidence would have you convinced McCown had a good solid game.
But does the film show differently? Here’s the three biggest plays it comes to stat line.
McCown’s blemish came early in the game. He locks on to his wideout early and the wideout runs a truly, really lazy route.
Jets line up with three wide, two in a stack formation and one flanker to the TE side. The two up top run a combo slant and deep corner route. The bottom WR rounds out the short route.
The defender senses it almost immediately. Check out the jump he gets on the route. Two things: one McCown was going that way almost before the ball hit his hands and two the WR rounds the route. Notice no cut or anything that would try to fool a defender or create separation. Instead the defender, playing off coverage was given a green light to jump the route.
And he did it really well. The only thing that saved it from being a pick six was the ball was just far enough to the outside that the defender’s momentum took him out of bounds. For what it’s worth, the only other option would be the WR running across the middle.
Had the pass been any more inside, it’s plausible the Browns take the lead early. The man across the middle may seem a bit more open than he would simply because McCown locked on taking the linebacker with him. Had he not, there probably is a hole in the zone, but a bad pass the WR gets cleaned up. For the record, I’m not fully blaming McCown, but he deserves some of the blame.
ASJ managed to snag his first touchdown pass. Here’s a case study in not having proper footwork courtesy of the Browns defense. The defender just about does a 180 trying to cover ASJ.
Jets line up with the heavy set with ASJ out as a flanker. It’s a simple fade route — there wasn’t any huge stutter steps, fancy headfakes or the like, just plant and straight ahead outside leverage.
Meanwhile the defender really screws himself into the ground by peeking at the QB and turning his shoulders. At that point he was pretty dead. Check the GIF above and see how badly he got turned around.
The separation is huge.
McCown may get credit for the TD pass, and ASJ may get the credit for the TD catch, but really poor defense gave the Jets that TD. With defense that poor, even a poor pass gets a TD.
Finally, we have an ingenious play design and not much else. To semi-quote a former coach of mine: “As long as you don’t fart all over yourself, it’s a touchdown. This play is a touchdown so don’t (NSFW language) it up because we will never be able to run it again.”
It’s the old bait play: fake the bubble screen and throw it deep. The Jets had 3 wide to the right with Kerley running the fake bubble, Kearse running the sideline wheel route (fade with a horizontal start) and a clearing fade route in the middle of the field. The concept is simple, get a defender to bite and it should clear out the deep route.
The Browns are in cover one man. However, in LOL BROWNS fashion the safety flies up the field and everyone else is watching the bubble screen. The defense is pretty much dead the second the ball is snapped. With all eyes on the bubble, Kearse is free once he gets past the corner.
Kearse gets to waive goodbye to the defenders as he goes up the sideline. Meanwhile, the safety is caught well upfield and out of position. Unless the throw was horrific, it’s a touchdown.
The throw didn’t need to be perfect... or heck.., good. It just needed to be somewhere up field, and it was going for paydirt.
The point of this is if you missed the game and saw the stat line, McCown looks to be doing well. The film shows a bad pick that was telegraphed and two exhibits of terrible defense. It’s not a smoke and mirrors 2 TD game where both came in garbage time, but it’s not exactly like we are talking about a world beating performance either. I’m curious to see against a real team what McCown can do and whether or not he actually can put up a good solid performance or needs the stats to bail him out again.
One final thought:
Last year around this time I did a podcast filling in for the immortal (and smarter than sp0rtsfan86- JB) John B when I mentioned that you’d find out a lot about this team in the next few weeks. It was right around the same time as now, and we all saw how that team did down the stretch. While a loss against the Pats wouldn’t mathematically end our season, a huge loss would effectively reinforce the narrative that 2017 is nothing more than a rebuilding year.