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This Sunday, the Cleveland Browns start a lengthy home stretch when they take on the New York Jets. To help preview the Week 8 contest, I reached out to Jeremy Jackson from Gang Green Nation and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!
Chris: “I saw a few Jets games to start the season, and CB Darrelle Revis wasn't the same dominant player. Have things gotten better for him, and how have they been for former Browns CB Buster Skrine?”
Skrine is… well, he’s pretty much the player who I thought the Jets were signing when they got him a couple years ago. He’s fast, feisty, and aggressive, and plays well in the slot. Problem is, he’s just not a starting, outside cornerback. He’s too small, he’s too handsy, he doesn’t get off blocks or tackle well. Against the Cardinals he got called for I believe FOUR flags for illegal contact. Even if some were borderline calls, it’s unfathomable to get four of them in one game. To me, he’s been better than Marcus Williams, who is also not a starting corner in this league, but ideally he’s a 3rd banana to a team that can keep him in the slot.”
Chris: “The Browns and Jets are right up there with the Bears and 49ers when it comes to teams with ugly quarterback situations in 2016. Overall, though, I'm a fan of Ryan Fitzpatrick's and am surprised he's been so bad aside from two games (both victories). What has been his fault in the losses?”
Jeremy: “Lol. Depending on who you ask and how they feel about Fitzpatrick, you’ll get a different answer. Some of the more disdainful Jets fans will point to his middling arm strength and say he can no longer throw the ball anymore. Others will say he’s simply regressed back into his regular form of being a bad quarterback, particularly after getting a good contract. Still others will point to his poor reading of the defense and the fact that he locks on to Brandon Marshall to the team’s detriment. Frankly, it’s been a combination of a multitude of issues.
Everything I listed above is true. Fitzpatrick has been locking onto Brandon Marshall. He has regressed as a player after sitting out almost the whole offseason (I don’t think it really made a difference, but it’s a bad optic). His arm strength is not the greatest. Many of his interceptions you are wondering what the guy is looking at because he’s throwing it into heavy coverage. I think there’s more to this, though. The Jets have scantly put together a consistent run game. Our primary ball-carrier, Matt Forte, is averaging 3.5 yards per carry. We often go into halftime losing, not by much, but still down because the defense generally gives up a big play or 2. We’ve also faced a pretty tough schedule that included the Bills, the Chiefs, the Seahawks, the Cardinals… some pretty good defenses. Our receivers, particularly without Decker, have not been getting the separation that they used to last year. When you combine all those factors with just poor quarterbacking, you get horrific play.”
Chris: “How would you assess the Jets' offensive line? Is there a particular strength or weakness?”
Jeremy: “A big bunch of meh. Which may be an improvement over the last season. Ryan Clady has been steady on the left side, quite a bit of pressure has gotten through him but he hasn’t been a turnstile. Which you couldn’t say for D’Brickishaw last year. James Carpenter at LG might be the best player on the offensive line right now. He’s a mauler with surprisingly good feet. The right side is a bigger toss up, where RT has been a committee between Brent Qvale and Ben Ijalana, with Ijalana looking like he’s starting to seize control of the spot. They haven’t killed us. The problem spot may be on the interior right.
Nick Mangold was injured and is unlikely to play on Sunday, which means the smart but undersized Wesley Johnson will start in his place. We haven’t seen a huge drop off in center play, but I have noticed more up the gut pressure recently that the beginning of the season. At RG we have Brian Winters, who used to suck but he looked to be improving pretty well early this year. Then he delivered a dirty head butt to a Seahawk defender and not only got a killer 15 yard penalty, but also gave himself a concussion. I personally don’t believe he’s been as good since returning from the concussion. Overall, the line is pretty mediocre, they don’t run block well at all, and I think Chan’s system and Fitz’s quick, one read tendencies that keep the sack count low.”
Chris: “Excluding cornerback, what is the best and weakest starting position on the Jets' defense?”
Jeremy: “Good question. We have really only one good position on the defense and the rest of it is weak so I’ll start with the best. Our strongest position by far is the defensive line, though even they have wildly underperformed this year. Muhammad Wilkerson had quietly been a dominant force for years, culminating in an 80+ million dollar new contract this year. He’s rewarded the Jets for their big contract by proceeding to have what has been his worst year since probably his rookie season. I’m hopeful he can turn it around, but having watched him get handled by a Steelers 3rd string tackle who the Steelers fans have called “turnstile,” I’m not quite sure what to expect. Leonard Williams, the Jets first rounder in 2015, has been phenomenal. Sheldon Richardson, yet another first rounder, has played his role. Worst part is that his role makes no sense as a 300 pound movable chess piece, but with Wilk out against the Ravens he was put back at the 3 tech and 5 tech and was wreaking havoc. Steve McLendon has rotated in well when needed.
Weakest… besides CB? Oy. All of it? As much as our outside linebackers stink and give us no edge rush, I have to give this honor to the safeties. Marcus Gilchrist, Ravens game aside, has had a really, really bad year. He doesn’t cover well but makes up for it by not tackling. Calvin Pryor, another recent first round pick in his 3rd year out of Louisville, has seemingly made a major regression. Last year he looked to be taking that next step and many thought he could take another leap into being one of the better safeties in the league, but instead he fell backwards. I think his hitting ability and play in the box gives him value, but when he’s put out there backpedaling and playing centerfield… yuck.”
Chris: “Tell us about a young player on the Jets who has played pretty well in 2016.”
Jeremy: “I’ll give you one on offense and one on defense. Defensively, I touched on this in a previous question, but I can’t say enough about Leonard Williams. This guy is on the verge of being a superstar, which was the expectation after he was so phenomenal at USC and somehow fell to the #6 pick. He has 6 sacks in 7 games, but that alone doesn’t tell you how disruptive, how strong, how flexible he is. On a line with Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson, Williams may soon turn out to be the best of them.
On offense, though I think Jets fans have gotten a little over-eager about him, WR/move TE/something Quincy Enunwa has been a very pleasant surprise. He’s actually leading the team in receptions with 32, more than Brandon Marshall has. Eunuwa previously had the dropsies but he seems to have corrected that issue, and is contributing as a big body in the middle of the field with sub-4.5 speed. I don’t know if I would call him a go-to target yet, but he’s a very nice complimentary player.”
Thanks again to Jeremy for taking the time to answer my questions.