New York Jets Defensive Report Card: Week 2 vs the Cleveland Browns
By James Cunningham
The New York Jets’ defense did its part in Monday night’s matchup against the Browns. How did each defensive unit perform individually?
The New York Jets lost their first of three primetime matchups in 2019, losing to the Cleveland Browns by a score of 26-3. The offense was inept for the second week in a row. Despite the defense keeping them in the game, it was bound to break open eventually.
Odell Beckham Jr. tore up the Jets’ secondary, posting monstrous numbers in his return to MetLife Stadium. He caught six passes for 161 yards and a touchdown. This included an 89-yard touchdown, in which he torched the entire defense with his legs and ran into the end zone untouched.
Beckham also made a ridiculous reception on the opening drive of the game, going one handed on the sideline over Nate Hairston. He somehow managed to keep his feet in bounds, and of course, his catch went viral all over social media.
This was all after defensive coordinator questioned Beckham’s reputation as a dynamic player, which now seems a little silly considering he singlehandedly had more yards than the entire Jets receiving corps.
How did each unit perform? Individual letter grades for each group on the Jets defense:
Next: Defensive Line
The Jets defensive line has become the New York ‘Almost Sack’ Exchange. The only defensive linemen who actually sacked Baker Mayfield was Bronson Kaufusi, who was awarded half a sack in garbage time late in the fourth.
Leonard Williams had another quiet night. He had no solo tackles and two assisted tackles. That included no tackles for loss and no sacks. He did hit Mayfield twice, but when do the QB pressures and hits turn into sacks? Williams is on the final year of his contract, and he’s running out of time to solidify his worth on the Jets.
Henry Anderson also had a very quiet night rushing the passer. His lone statistic were two combined tackles, which isn’t something to be proud of at all. Anderson got a good contract in the offseason and hasn’t lived up to the money quite yet. He still has time to get going though, and there isn’t much of a rush considering his brand new three-year deal.
The Jets run defense was a highlight, limiting Nick Chubb and D’Ernest Johnson to 3.3 yards per carry. Hopefully, they can figure out how to get to the quarterback, because if they do, the Jets defensive line could become a force to be reckoned with.
The whole world expected the Jets’ linebacking core to turn into a dumpster fire in the absence of C.J. Mosley. They looked like a mess as soon as he left the field in the opener against the Buffalo Bills. However, the depleted linebacker group held their own yet again in Monday’s game.
Blake Cashman had himself a great starting debut. His first start consisted of six tackles, a tackle for loss, and half a sack. Quite a night for Cashman, whose impressed since the start of camp. C.J. Mosley should be back for Week 3, but Cashman may have earned some more playing time during his absence.
Neville Hewitt also had another good performance. Hewitt had seven tackles, a tackle for loss, and a sack. He also batted a pass down, and he was ridiculously close to intercepting it. That would have been an interception in two straight games for Hewitt, and one is impressive enough. Hewitt has been a big part of the Jets’ defensive success since subbing in for Avery Williamson.
Jordan Jenkins went down early in the game, adding onto the Jets’ seemingly never-ending list of injuries. Tarell Basham stepped in to the game following Jenkins’ departure and played very well. Basham played a hard game, making several plays and even recording a sack on Mayfield. Despite literally losing every starting linebacker (Mosley, Williamson, Jenkins, and Brandon Copeland), the Jets linebackers had a solid night.
Start the parade! The Jets’ secondary finally had a decent game, which seemed almost unimaginable a couple of weeks ago.
Darryl Roberts played a good game on Monday. He played solid coverage most of the night, and he also made a spectacular play to intercept a pass from Mayfield. Roberts cleanly got his hands around Beckham, swatted the ball in the air, and retrieved it for the Jets’ only pick of the game.
One of the most interesting storylines of the game was Trumaine Johnson. Johnson was benched throughout the entire game, and it wasn’t for disciplinary reasons. The $72.5 million cornerback rode the bench because, well, Adam Gase and Gregg Williams wanted to bench him.
Gase told the media that he “just decided not to play him”. It’s safe to say Johnson’s been a train wreck in New York since signing his huge contract.
His replacement, Nate Hairston, actually had a good game. He played good coverage all night. He was the victim of Beckham when he made his crazy one-handed grab in the first quarter, but it was good coverage regardless. If Hairston keeps up his good play, will Trumaine Johnson see the field at all going forward?
The safeties did their thing, as usual. Jamal Adams was clearly frustrated during the game and got benched late in the fourth for going offsides two plays in a row. Adams wasn’t happy with that, but he admitted he made a boneheaded play. Adams played insanely aggressive on Monday night, looking like he was playing out of anger and frustration.