QuickFix: Saucy Nuggets from the loss to the Browns

We're going to kick off today's analysis with some things you might not have noticed from yesterday's loss to the Browns:

Where do I start?

It's very difficult to establish any kind of continuity when several players who didn't see any snaps in week one were on the field for significant action in the second game.

Summing things up for the Jets was the fact that they had three starters who didn't play a single snap last week - Trevor Siemian, Demaryius Thomas and Nate Hairston - and ALL THREE left the game injured.

The Jets also lost Jordan Jenkins to injury, voluntarily benched Trumaine Johnson until the closing minutes and took Ryan Kalil out of the game for the fourth quarter for rest or mercy or whatever the hell.

In addition to the three new starters, four others who didn't play an offensive or defensive snap last week saw significant action. They were quarterback Luke Falk, center Jonotthan Harrison and defensive linemen Foley Fatukasi and Kyle Phillips.

In most cases, the Jets didn't have a choice or perhaps used a rotational player more than they otherwise would have due to the way the game played out, but the choice to play Hairston for Johnson was very much a voluntary one.

After the media speculated this must be a disciplinary matter, the team denied this, leading them to conclude that it must be a performance-related benching.

However, there's also a strategic aspect to the move insofar as they opted to deal with the Browns' receiving threats by playing a lot of zone on the outside. Johnson has always been better in man-to-man, while Hairston is coming from the Colts where they constantly played a zone-based scheme, so that may explain why they went with Hairston having reportedly split first-team reps during the week. They presumably kept that fact quiet so as to not tip their hand in terms of their coverage approach, which did confuse the Browns at times.

Having said all this, Hairston struggled badly in the Colts' zone coverages at times as he was prone to blown coverages. And, yet, in the game, he fared well with his worst play being a play where he was isolated in man coverage and then missed a tackle after a catch to turn it into a big play.

It doesn't say much for this staff's faith in Johnson that they opted to sideline him for this kind of gameplan, but the plan could almost be considered a success considering what could have happened. Baker Mayfield completed less than 50 percent of his first 31 passes before completing his last four to pad his stats when the Jets were probably just expecting then to run some clock.

Logically speaking, their best bet for next week's game with the dual threats of Antonio Brown and Josh Gordon might be a similar approach, but you know Tom Brady won't hesitate to pick apart any gaps in the zone as the Jets can't rely on him being as erratic as Mayfield uncharacteristically was at times.

The three-play sequence that doomed the Jets

As the Browns kicked the extra point to go up by 20 with less than four minutes remaining, the game was obviously over. In fact, in terms of scoring, it was, as neither team managed to put any further points on the board.

However, you could be forgiven for looking back to just three plays (and just 23 seconds of gameplay) earlier, where the Jets were knocking on the door of a one-possession game.

If the Jets scored a touchdown to make the game 16-10 with just under four minutes to go in the third quarter, the fans would be back in the game and everyone would be fired up and focused. The Browns would be under pressure to execute well and reluctant to risk a turnover. It could have made the game competitive into the fourth quarter, much like the Bills game was last week.

And they came pretty close.

With 3rd-and-2 at the 12, Robby Anderson broke free at the back of the end zone, but Falk saw him too late and his pass led him out of bounds.

It's understandable that Falk would see things late in this offense having just been elevated with limited game prep and he wouldn't have his timing down with Anderson yet but this still should have been a makeable throw.

As you can see, Anderson has a step and a half and is already looking back for the ball, but it should be arriving at this point, not halfway there. He did catch it too, just a step beyond the backline as it was slightly overthrown as well as late.

Never mind, though. 4th-and-2 ... just make sure you get the first down. Falk of course dumped it to Le'Veon Bell in the flat and he was stopped just shy of the marker. But watch the play again and focus instead on Jamison Crowder out of the left slot:


Crowder finds a gap in the defense and even has time to wave for the ball. Falk is just too slow to progress through his reads here and the chance to convert is lost.

Having turned the ball over on downs, it didn't take long for the Browns to turn the game into a blowout. On the first play, this happened:


This is a clear case of the Jets not being correctly aligned at the snap. There's three wide receivers on the left side, so Brian Poole has to be able to take the outside slot. This means Neville Hewitt has to be ready to take Odell Beckham but instead he's peeking into the backfield before he realizes that he hasn't told himself where to line up.

It's a self-inflicted wound and one which CJ Mosley would likely have prevented without anyone even noticing by adjusting before the snap.

That will be the easiest 89-yard pass of Mayfield's career, although the least said about Marcus Maye's circuitous pursuit angle, the better.


What the hell is this?


Focus on each of the blockers one at a time here and try to find one who did a good job. You can't. This play was such a mess, how do you even begin trying to figure out what the plan was?

By the way, this was the second snap of the game, which you'd usually expect to be heavily scripted and a play which the team had practiced in depth during the week.

Giving the Browns fits

As further evidence of how much the Jets miss Mosley, check out how they were aligned for this opening play of a first quarter drive:

Before the ball is snapped you can tell that the Browns can get an easy chunk of yardage by going to the right. They've loaded two tight ends onto the right side of the line, but the Jets only have Nate Hairston and Brian Poole - two defensive backs - on that side of the field.

In order to hold up at the point of attack, Henry Anderson is basically going to have to take on a quadruple-team. And that's before the Browns predictably pull two more linemen to the right.

That this was only an eight-yard gain is a credit to Poole, who showed some guts to take on a block in space. Hewitt semi-redeemed himself for not getting the team aligned by getting over to make the tackle but that's an easy gain to just hand to your opponent.

Once again, Mosley would surely have adjusted the Jets into a better alignment at the snap here, perhaps by getting Tarell Basham to shift over to the left or getting everyone to move down a gap.

Things should definitely improve when Mosley returns. Eradicating these easy plays for the opposition is the first step to having a defense that can get off the field and give the Jets a fighting chance in the field position battle.

In terms of yesterday's defense, we've seen enough.

Much more analysis to come later today and over the next few days. Please let us know who you'd like to see us feature in more detail in 3-on-D and 3-on-O.