On Sunday, the Cleveland Browns’ take on the New York Jets. To help preview a few topics from New York’s perspective, we reached out to Macgregor Wells from Gang Green Nation and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!
Chris: “I didn’t have a chance to watch the Jets’ upset last week of the Rams — how did they do it? Did the defense do something creative or play with extra passion? Or did the Rams just muck it up?”
Macgregor: “The Jets benefited from a good game plan, some favorable matchups, and a Rams team that probably was looking past the Jets.
The Jets came out on offense throwing to the backs and wisely avoiding the great Rams secondary. This resulted in an opening touchdown drive.
From there the Jets defense took over. The Rams lean on their run game, and the strength of the Jets defense is against the run. The Jets dominated in the trenches, shutting down the Rams running attack and putting a ton of pressure on Jared Goff. The Jets also benefited from a blocked punt and an interception to take a 13 – 3 lead at the half.
In the second half the Jets switched things up on offense, attacking downfield after the Rams shut down the short stuff to the backs. This kept the Rams defense off balance.
In the end the Jets played their most complete game of the year, dominating in the trenches, playing turnover free offense, winning on special teams; just playing a complete game of football. The Rams chipped in with a poor game plan and an uninspired, flat performance all around. The result was a Jets win.”
Chris: “How bad has the Jets’ offensive line been? Which players in particular have been weaknesses?”
Macgregor: “The Jets offensive line has been slowly improving throughout the year. After fielding one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL last year, the Jets completely overhauled the line. Without minicamps, OTAs, preseason games or much in the way of a training camp, it isn’t a surprise the revamped line struggled early on. As the season has worn on though some of the problems have gotten better. The weakest links on the Jets offensive line have been at the guard and center positions, where Connor McGovern at center and Alex Lewis, Pat Elflein and Josh Andrews at guard have all struggled badly and Greg Van Roten at guard has just been OK. On the bright side, rookie left tackle Mekhi Becton has been superb for a rookie and he has the look of a potential perennial Pro Bowl tackle.”
Chris: “Has Sam Darnold regressed? Do you think he’ll be the Jets’ starting quarterback in 2021?”
Macgregor: “Sam Darnold has definitely regressed. He struggles to read defenses, struggles with accuracy, struggles with judgment, ball placement, throwing with anticipation – it has been a very rough year for Darnold. In three years he has not made much, if any, progress in developing and ironing out the inevitable flaws nearly all rookie quarterbacks enter the league with. Certainly poor coaching and the lack of surrounding talent have played a role, but it is difficult to envision the new Jets head coach, whoever that may be after Adam Gase is fired, will be comfortable with Sam Darnold penciled in as the starter. I doubt Darnold will be the starting quarterback for the Jets in 2021, and I suspect he may not be on the roster.”
Chris: “Statistically, the Jets rank 14th in yards allowed against the run, and 30th in yards allowed against the pass. Where do the Jets struggle most against the pass?”
Macgregor: “Where do the Jets struggle most against the pass? On the field. That’s only partially a joke. The Jets have one of the weakest cornerback groups in the NFL and one of the weakest edge rusher groups in the NFL. They also have linebackers who struggle in coverage. When your cornerbacks can’t cover, your linebackers can’t cover, and your edge rushers can’t get to the quarterback, you pretty much struggle in every way against the pass. On the bright side, rookie outside cornerback Bryce Hall has come on nicely of late, rookie slot cornerback Javelin Guidry has also come along nicely, and the Jets interior pass rush is very good (or was before Quinnen Williams went on injured reserve this week), so the Jets are improving and there is hope for the future.”
Chris: “Tell us about one player on offense and one player on defense who Browns fans might not be familiar with, but who could make a nice contribution for this week’s game.”
Macgregor: “On defense keep your eye on rookie cornerback Bryce Hall. He missed the first half of the year with an injury, but since he started to get playing time he has been a revelation, playing really well against some very good receivers. On offense running back Ty Johnson has come on lately, doing some damage mostly as a pass catching back. He has outstanding speed and is capable of breaking a big play at any time.”
Thanks again to Macgregor for taking the time to answer my questions.