The Jets fell to 0-2 tonight, falling to the Browns on Monday Night Football. It was a story we have seen many times through the years. An undermanned defense played a spirited game. Meanwhile the offense looked incapable of executing anything effectively. Let’s talk about some of the key players in this game.
Luke Falk: I don’t want to be too hard on Luke Falk. He shouldn’t be seeing significant NFL snaps at this point in his career. There’s a good chance there will never be a point where he should be seeing significant NFL snaps. Rare is the team that is not in deep trouble when it gets down to its third quarterback. The Jets were no exception. Falk’s lack of arm strength and pocket presence limited the offense when he was in there. These might have been the determining factors in the game. His biggest completion was a ball so badly underthrown that the defender had no shot at it. While the line in front of him was poor, he also did them no favors by putting himself into the teeth of the pressure.
Trevor Siemian: Siemian is another guy of whom I don’t want to be overly critical. We knew what he was going into this game, and he suffered a serious injury. With that said, nothing was working with him in the game. He couldn’t get the line set properly, and his throws were badly off target all night. Prior to the game I watched some of his Denver film and was struck by how little touch his throws had. That seemed to be the case once again in this one.
Offensive Line: I don’t know what to say other than this unit is a mess right now. They can’t run block or pass protect. It seems like getting the assignments correct is a labor.
Kelvin Beachum: Beachum was in a really tough matchup against Myles Garrett, and it showed. He allowed multiple sacks and committed multiple penalties. Garrett is the type of player who will give him nightmares.
Adam Gase: I see people calling for Gase’s job after two games. I see people talking about the impossible hand he was dealt. I guess I fall somewhere in between.
When a team gets down to its third quarterback, has two starting offensive linemen playing hurt, and is missing two impact players on defense it’s tough to win. That’s especially true when the opponent objectively has more talent even when both teams are at full strength. I think it’s fair to say Gase was dealt a difficult, arguably impossible hand. Demanding he win this game might be too much.
With that said, a coach is either improving his team’s chances, or he isn’t. I can’t really name a thing Gase did to improve his team’s chances.
Good play calling keeps the opponent off balance. A good play caller stays a step ahead of the defense. He starts by establishing what he does best and builds counters off that. He designs plays to get matchups he wants and figures out creative ways to give his playmakers chances to make plays. I’ve seen undermanned teams do that in this league. I saw it in games I watched Sunday. Even if it’s just for two drives, good offensive minds can manufacture things for at least a short period of time. I see none of these things.
And even if you want to defend the lack of offensive production, there’s really no way you can defend whatever the gameplan was against Myles Garrett. This is one of the league’s premium pass rushers, and Gase didn’t seem to realize it. If a guy like that gets a free run to the quarterback once, I blame the quarterback for setting the wrong protection. When it happens multiple times, something more profound is wrong.
It also should not have been a surprise that giving Beachum no help could be asking for trouble. When it became obvious, some adjustment needed to be made.
In terms of other nitpicks I also wasn’t a fan of how he dealt with the end of the half. I wouldn’t have had a problem if he had run out the clock. Just run the football three times. I wouldn’t have had a problem if he had attacked. Give your offense three cracks at a big play. You can’t do things halfway, though. The Jets gave themselves only one shot at the big play and failed to run out the clock.
Again, I appreciate the fact that talent wins out at some point. The Jets were undermanned. But I saw the coach on the other side of the ball get the whole of an undermanned unit to the greater than the sum of its parts with an effective gameplan. There was no such luck on offense.
Leonard Williams: Even as somebody who usually defends Leonard Williams, it’s really getting tough to stay in his corner. He was blown off the ball on a touchdown run and wasn’t seen frequently otherwise.
Josh Bellamy: Bellamy’s drop before the half was an absolute killer and a possible turning point of the game.
Brian Poole: I didn’t think he was terrible on the whole, but I’m not sure what happened to him on the long Odell Beckham touchdown.
Gregg Williams: Williams was missing both of his starting off ball linebackers. His cornerback and edge situations are a mess.
Given what he was dealing with, I thought he came out with a heck of a gameplan. Watching it live I got the impression his plan was to hold back on his trademark blitzing. Even when he did attack, it seemed like he was sending five and refraining from the big blitzes.
The plan seemed to be to force Baker Mayfield to play from the pocket. Mayfield tends to be most dangerous on broken plays. Williams disguised his looks and hoped that the time it took Baker to figure out what was going on would be enough for the pass rush to get home.
From watching the game I felt like he got into Mayfield’s head, and last year’s top overall pick was flustered at times. Without a couple of ill-timed penalties and big plays, this could have been a really special defensive performance.
Nate Hairston: It feels a bit funny to put Hairston here because he was beaten early for a big completion and committed a penalty to extend a scoring drive.
Counterpoint: There wasn’t anything more he could have done on the big completion. It was incredible execution on Cleveland, and that big penalty could have easily not been called.
Maybe I’m just excited to see somebody who went out there and competed after a year and change of watching Trumaine Johnson get burned and play lazy coverage. Either way, I give Hairston credit.
Blake Cashman: Perhaps this is unfair because he was blocked out of the touchdown I criticized Williams for, but I thought Cashman exceeded expectations otherwise. He was frequently around the football making plays.
Le’Veon Bell: This was a miserable night for the offense, but I thought Bell gave everything he had. The numbers might not have been great, but he made the most out of what was there.
Tarrell Basham: He recorded a sack and was in the backfield disrupting multiple other plays.
Unfortunately for the Jets things don’t get any easier. The Patriots await next week.