This Sunday, the Cleveland Browns take on the New York Jets. To help preview a few topics from the Jets’ perspective, we reached out to MacGregor Wells from Gang Green Nation and exchanged six questions with him. Enjoy!
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Browns are 6.5-point favorites against the Jets.
Chris: “It’s usually not a good thing when Joe Flacco has 59 pass attempts by the end of the game like he did in Week 1 against the Ravens; but besides that, the Jets drafted Garrett Wilson with their 10th overall pick. How did the former Buckeye perform in camp and now in Week 1?”
MacGregor: “Garrett Wilson had an up and down camp. He showcased excellent speed, lateral quickness and body control. Wilson has a knack for getting open and running after the catch. However, Wilson also had a case of the dropsies in camp, which perhaps is why he hasn’t yet ascended to a clear cut starting role in the Jets offense quite yet. Last Sunday Wilson performed well, including a highlight reel play in which he took a short pass on 3rd and long and juked multiple defenders to fall just shy of an improbable first down. Jets fans were impressed and we hope he soon passes Braxton Berrios on the depth chart to take over a starting role.”
Chris: “On the defensive side of the ball, the Jets used their other two first round picks on Ahmad Gardner and Jermaine Johnson. Tell us about each rookie’s progress through camp and to open the season.”
MacGregor: “Ahmad Gardner has been extremely impressive. He has looked like a shutdown cornerback from day one of training camp. Opposing quarterbacks already are avoiding throwing his way, preferring to test the other side of the field. Gardner had a great debut last Sunday, giving up next to nothing against the Ravens. It is obviously way too soon to anoint Gardner as the next great NFL cornerback, but early returns are extremely encouraging, and Jets fans won’t be surprised if he develops into one of the best cornerbacks in the game.
Jermaine Johnson has not had such a smooth transition to the NFL. He struggled early in camp, playing primarily with the third string defensive linemen. Johnson gradually worked his way up to second string status, and he had ½ a sack in the Jets’ opener against the Ravens in limited snaps. Johnson looks like he will be brought along slowly, and it won’t be surprising if he doesn’t break into the starting lineup until next year.”
Chris: “Which position is the strength of the Jets’ offensive line, and which is the weakness?”
MacGregor: “Heh. Judging by last week’s debacle against the Ravens, when the Jets’ offensive line was dominated at every position in pass protection, one would think there is no strength to the Jets’ offensive line haha. Judging by previous results, I would say the interior of the line should hold up reasonably well over the long run. Conor McGovern at center has been above average for a few years now, guard Laken Tomlinson was a Pro Bowl player last year, and guard Alijah Vera-Tucker was a first round pick last year who enjoyed a pretty encouraging rookie season. Over time the interior line should gel and be a pretty decent group.
The tackles, on the other hand, may struggle all year. Max Mitchell at right tackle is a 4th round rookie who looks like he’ll need some time to develop in the NFL. This could be a year long sore spot if Duane Brown, who himself was an injury replacement for Mekhi Becton, doesn’t make it back from a shoulder injury that’s troubling him. Needless to say third string rookie tackles don’t have a high likelihood of immediate success in the NFL. The left tackle, George Fant, had a good year last year, but it was the only good year of his career. He is a likely candidate for regression, and after getting dominated all day by the Ravens in the opening game, that regression looks like it may be upon us.”
Chris: “The Browns combined for over 200 yards of rushing last week — how good or bad is the Jets’ run defense?”
MacGregor: “I would say the effectiveness of the Jets’ run defense has yet to be determined. Last year the Jets had one of the worst run defenses in the NFL. Yet on opening day this season against the Ravens the Jets run defense was superb, holding one of the best running offenses in the NFL to just 63 yards and allowing a measly 3.0 yards per rushing attempt. It was a shockingly effective display of run defense by the Jets, who looked like a completely different team from last year.
Now, one game samples aren’t exactly determinative. We can probably expect a healthy dose of reversion to the mean here. But judging by what we saw last Sunday, the Jets, who have historically fielded a top run defense nearly every year for more than a decade, may have a shot at getting back to their old ways of shutting down the run. The Browns’ top notch running game should be a good test and indication of what we’ll see from the Jets going forward.”
Chris: “Tell us about one player who Browns fans may not have heard of, but who could have an impact on this Sunday’s game.”
MacGregor: “Hmmm … I think I’ll go with John Franklin-Myers. I’m not sure if the word has gotten out around the league about him. Franklin-Myers was a waiver wire pickup by the Jets off the Rams’ roster a few years ago. After spending his first year with the Jets on injured reserve he has put together a pair of pretty impressive seasons, one primarily on the interior, and one primarily on the edge. This year Franklin-Myers is likely to be moved all around the line, hopefully creating mismatches. If the Jets can stay in this game and avoid playing from too far behind, I think Franklin-Myers could have a pretty big impact in the pass rush for the Jets.”
Chris: “If you were a betting man, who would you bet on to win this game?”
MacGregor: “I think you have to favor the Browns in this game. The Browns have home field advantage. The Jets are starting statuesque 37 year old Joe Flacco at quarterback. The Browns have the great Myles Garrett rushing the passer against suspect Jets offensive tackles. Unless the Jets establish an effective running game and Flacco gets the ball out quickly, this could get ugly for the Jets.”
Thanks again to MacGregor for taking the time to answer my questions.