After each game, we'll be highlighting three defensive and three offensive players and looking in detail at their performance. We'll start today with the defense:
Thursday wasn't a great day for the vaunted Jets pass rush. The Jets didn't register a sack and, in fact, only had one quarterback hit (by John Franklin-Myers).
Jermaine Johnson still had a couple of good moments, though. He recorded two pressures and three tackles, which included two run stuffs at the line of scrimmage.
By far his best play, though, and arguably one of the best defensive plays by any Jet all season, was his spectacular pick-six.
In addition to that incredible show of athleticism, Johnson should also have had a second touchdown on a fumble return that would have made it a 34-24 game with 12 minutes remaining. The inadvertent whistle meant that Johnson's return into the end zone didn't count, even though the recovery did.
It's been an excellent second season from Johnson, who is second on the team in sacks and tackles for loss and third in quarterback hits. He's even tied for fifth in terms of passes defensed. It will be interesting to see if he can elevate his play even further in year three.
There's gonna be Hector pay
The Jets' backups at defensive tackle now comprise Jalyn Holmes and Bruce Hector, who are the team's seventh and eighth-choice at the position with four players on injured reserve.
It seems that the Browns were well aware of the Jets' lack of depth as they ran the ball down the Jets' throats whenever Quinnen Williams left the game.
Cleveland's seven longest runs of the game went for 16, 15, 11, 11, 10, 8, and 7 yards with the last of those being a touchdown. On those seven plays, Williams was only on the field for one of them and the Browns ran away from him and right at Hector on that play. On their other 21 carries, the Browns averaged just 2.3 per carry.
Hector was part of the problem as he was sealed off, or driven off the line, multiple times in a Jets debut that saw him play 20 defensive snaps. He was also taken out by Joel Bitinio's key pulling block on Kareem Hunt's touchdown run:
Hector didn't register a pressure but was in on two run stops - one on a four-yard run and one behind the line of scrimmage on the play where Jerome Ford fumbled the hand-off.
It's a bit difficult to judge Hector because apart from when Williams was lined up next to him, which was rare, the whole interior was basically overmatched against Cleveland's center and guards, which includes two pro bowlers.
The Jets' lack of depth in this position over the second half of the year has been really damaging to their chances of shutting teams down as they did in the first half. As for Hector, he will likely get another chance to play on Sunday, but New England is another team who runs the ball well between the tackles, so don't expect him to grade out well.
Adams Firmly Valued
Although he had eight tackles and two tackles for loss on Thursday night, Tony Adams' night will probably be remembered for giving up the opening touchdown in coverage against Jerome Ford and his bad missed tackle at the five-yard line that allowed Ford to score again on his 50-yard touchdown just before half time.
The first one shouldn't have counted because the Browns blatantly committed offensive pass interference by blocking downfield before the pass was thrown. The other was a frustrating play, on which Jordan Whitehead also had a bad missed tackle, just after the Jets had pulled within 13 on the Johnson touchdown.
Adams did have some really nice plays in this game, though. His two tackles for loss saw him first stay at home to clean up on the backside when the running back was forced to cut back and then chase down the running back from the backside before he could turn upfield after creeping up to the edge. He also quickly diagnosed a receiver screen and closed to assist on the stop for a short gain before a blocker could get in position to slow him down.
Perhaps his best two plays, though, were a pair of third down open field tackles underneath that were short of the marker, forcing the Browns to punt each time. His instincts, closing speed and tackling technique were all on display on these plays.
Adams has had a fine year as he has 80 tackles, six tackles for loss, three passes defensed and two interceptions. As a measure of how good that production is, Marcus Maye's highest number of tackles for loss in his five seasons as a Jet was four and he never exceeded two interceptions and only had more than 80 tackles once.
It's pretty obvious that Adams is a lock to return as a starter again in his third season.
Three-on-O will follow tomorrow.