The New York Jets edged out the win in a sloppy contest Sunday as they defeated the winless Cleveland Browns 17-14. Apart from the Browns ineptitude, who can Jets fans thank for the team’s third straight victory?
Through five weeks, the New York Jets sit tied atop the AFC East with a 3-2 record having won three consecutive games and currently have a better record than the Dolphins, Raiders, Bengals, Texans, Titans, Cowboys, Giants, Cardinals, Saints, and Buccaneers.
If you predicted all of that at the beginning of the season you’re either a liar or a psychic, neither of which I want to associate myself with. In all seriousness though, the Jets didn’t win this game. The Browns lost it. Gang Green found themselves outplayed all game long by arguably the worst team in the league but still walked away with the victory in an ugly, ugly game.
The defense came through with timely turnovers while Cleveland continuously shot themselves in the foot. A clutch 4th-quarter TD drive sealed the deal as the Jets were able to hold off the lowly Browns to win their third straight. This team may not be perfect, but they play with heart and grit and it’s always a pleasure to watch a young team overachieve.
Shoutouts this week go to special teamers Lachlan Edwards and Chandler Catanzaro who each had very nice days in their own right. Edwards had a couple of booming punts that had good hang time to help the Jets flip the field on multiple occasions. All Catanzaro did was nail a kick from 57 yards out to record the longest field goal in Jets history surpassing the reliable Nick Folk (unless you talk to Bucs fans) who made a 56-yarder back in 2010.
Eric Tomlinson also deserves some praise as the veteran blocking tight end was matched up with stud rookie Myles Garrett a decent amount of his snaps and he certainly held his own. His quickness and agility made him a better option than either Kelvin Beachum or Brandon Shell who simply can’t match Garrett’s athleticism. Tomlinson also hauled in a 34-yard reception to convert a key third down on what was only his third career catch.
Who else made an impact on Sunday and helped the Jets earn the victory in Cleveland? Here are the top five players who won this game by delivering key moments against the Browns.
Next: 5. Demario Davis
5. Linebacker Demario Davis
Demario Davis is a flawed player. We all know this. He is below-average in coverage and his inconsistencies in run defense make for an incomplete model of what an NFL linebacker should look like.
But every once in a while he has games that show his athletic upside. Sunday’s contest is a solid example of what happens when you catch Davis on a good day.
He was all over the field making tackles and was a consistent presence in the backfield tallying four quarterback hits on the day. The most notable of which came when he pummeled quarterback Kevin Hogan late in the third quarter to force an errant throw which was subsequently intercepted by cornerback Morris Claiborne.
This couldn’t have come at a better time as the Jets were trailing 7-3 and desperately in need of a spark on defense as Hogan, yes Kevin Hogan, had come in and lit a fire under the Browns struggling offense. Davis’ hit allowed for a major shift in momentum and after a quick score by the Jets following the interception the team didn’t trail again.
The Arkansas State product also recorded a sack earlier in the game and wasn’t beaten in coverage on any significant plays.
Again, Davis has his deficiencies. However, the trade for the former Cleveland Brown is already looking like a steal for the team that initially drafted him and more games like this will only add to this belief.
Next: 4. Marcus Maye
4. Safety Marcus Maye
So much hype has been placed around rookie first-round pick Jamal Adams that sometimes fellow rookie Marcus Maye tends to drift into the background.
Adams is the vibrant, high-motor defender who makes the splashy plays and gets all the publicity. Maye prefers a more low-profile approach. A player who performs consistently at all times, doing the dirty work and making solid tackle after solid tackle, but still finding himself in the shadow of his larger than life teammate.
This wasn’t the case on Sunday.
While Adams struggled on multiple occasions, Maye came away with the best play of his short career thus far as he picked off quarterback DeShone Kizer as the Browns were threatening inside the Jets five-yard line late in the second quarter.
It was a beautiful play as Maye read Kizer’s eyes as he rolled out of the pocket and the former Florida Gator was able to jump the route to record his first career interception.
Now, none of this is to take away from how impressive Adams has been through five games so far. He’s certainly lived up to the hype.
But it’s about time some of the hype gets split with Maye because it’s a two-headed monster the Jets have in the secondary, not a one-man show.
Next: 3. Austin Seferian-Jenkins
3. Tight End Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Austin Seferian-Jenkins made a commitment to himself to improve not only his physical conditioning this past offseason, but his overall play as a tight end and to this point in the season, it seems to be paying off.
Having shed nearly 25 pounds from last season, the quicker and slimmer Seferian-Jenkins is looking more and more like the player the Buccaneers once drafted in the second round with hope that he would one day become a matchup nightmare at tight end for opposing defenses.
Four years and two DUI’s later it appears that that player might finally be arriving.
Seferian-Jenkins hauled in six catches for 29 yards and a touchdown in Sunday’s win over the Browns and each catch seemed to be more clutch than the next culminating with a touchdown reception that catapulted the Jets into the lead late in the third quarter.
The touchdown was a simple fade to the Washington product who used his large frame to create a size mismatch for the defensive back he was matched up against which resulted in an easy score. This is the area of the field where Seferian-Jenkins can shine the most as his big body makes for a substantial target in the end zone.
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New offensive coordinator John Morton has brought the tight end back into the Jets offense and Austin Seferian-Jenkins has brought his game-changing ability back into his life. A perfect storm has been brewing and opposing defenses should take note or else they risk getting in its path of destruction.
Next: 2. Josh McCown
2. Quarterback Josh McCown
“It took me three years and two teams, but dadgummit, I got me a win at First Energy (Stadium).”
That was the quote from quarterback Josh McCown via an article written by George Willis of the New York Post following the Jets 17-14 win over the Browns which marked the first time in the 15-year veteran’s career that he had put together a winning streak of three games.
McCown is a class act who is impossible not to like as a player, teammate, and individual. He lays it all on the field every time he goes out there playing with true grit and determination. He comes off as humble and down to earth in postgame interviews. And best of all, he’s just a 38-year old trying to have fun and win some games in the process.
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And on Sunday he did just that.
The veteran signal-caller played a fine game against his former team going 23-for-30 in the air for 194 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. While the Jets offense struggled mightily for the majority of the game, McCown was able to lead the Jets down the field for a 97-yard touchdown drive in which he went 6-for-6 while spreading the ball around to five different receivers.
McCown didn’t have a perfect game as his second-quarter interception was telegraphed by Browns cornerback Jamar Taylor as McCown stared down his target the entire route, a mistake you wouldn’t expect from a player who’s been in the game as long as he has.
All in all, however, McCown came through in the clutch when the team needed him and for that, he deserves a spot on this list. At this stage in the season, try and find a better feel-good story than Josh McCown.
Next: 1. Morris Claiborne
1. Cornerback Morris Claiborne
The offseason signing of Morris Claiborne is already appearing to be a sharp move on the part of the Jets as Sunday’s game was the latest in a string of impressive performances from the former Dallas Cowboys defensive back.
Plagued by injuries throughout his 5-year tenure in Dallas, the Jets took a chance on Claiborne who was coming off another solid season cut short by injury. So far they have not been disappointed.
The former first-round pick made his biggest play as a Jet in the third quarter of the team’s victory over the Browns as a pass sailing high from Hogan tipped off the hands of wide receiver Ricardo Louis and into the waiting arms of Claiborne who had tight coverage on the play.
The play was a complete momentum shifter and set the Jets up inside the Browns 15-yard line which ultimately resulted in the team’s first touchdown of the game. It was the biggest play of the game and essentially why Claiborne is number one on the list this week.
The LSU product has been the Jets best and most consistent cornerback this year and suddenly a unit that had its question marks going into the year seems to be one of the team’s strengths. This is the case with Claiborne along with rookie standouts Adams and Maye patrolling the secondary.
If Claiborne can remain healthy for the season, the Jets may have found themselves a gem at cornerback and a piece that they would love to bring back next year.
And with that…..bring on the Patriots!