NY Jets fans should keep an eye on Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields against Clemson.
With the win over the Cleveland Browns this past weekend the NY Jets officially locked down the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Now officially out of the Trevor Lawrence sweepstakes, Joe Douglas and the rest of the front office have a decision to make when it comes to who will be under center for the team not just next year, but for the foreseeable future.
One of the options for New York will be Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields. The leader of the Buckeyes offense for two years, Fields has plenty of physical gifts that could make him a successful NFL quarterback, but he still has a lot to prove.
His game tonight against Clemson in the Sugar Bowl will be the first step in that proving process. Not only is this a playoff game, but it is the biggest test for the Buckeyes since the last time these two teams met in the Fiesta Bowl last year — a 29-23 victory for Clemson.
This is a chance at redemption, a chance for Fields to make up for the game-ending interception he threw with under one minute remaining a year ago.
And for Jets fans, it’s a chance to get a look at the guy who could be leading their team into the future. Here are a few things Jets fans should look for in tonight’s game.
Next: 1. Decision making under pressure
NY Jets, Justin Fields Mandatory Credit: Adam Cairns-USA TODAY NETWORK
1. NY Jets fans should keep an eye on Justin Fields’ decision making under pressure
One of the biggest problems that many have found with Justin Fields thus far is his decision making when he is under pressure. If you watched Indiana/Ohio State game back in November, you would have seen Fields throw three interceptions — two of which were really bad.
When under pressure, Fields will oftentimes panic and make really poor choices. Just throwing the ball for the sake of not getting sacked is something that must be worked on.
This led to interceptions that would drive coaches wild in the NFL. And while he is a young quarterback that has plenty of potential, that is a red flag for sure.
That would be the biggest thing Jets fans should look for from Fields in tonight’s contest. Brent Venables (Clemson’s defensive coordinator) is sure to bring the pressure in the hopes of forcing Fields into some poor decisions.
If Fields is to be successful, he needs to be smart and protect the football. Turnovers are an issue for many young quarterbacks and Fields must prove that he can take care of the ball more efficiently.
The ideal scenario for the young quarterback would be to find ways out of the pocket when things break down and to extend the play. Make something happen. Fields has more than enough athleticism to make something out of nothing.
He has had plenty of success when he has time to throw, but against Clemson, he is going to have to deal with pressure and prove to everyone he can make smart choices under duress.
Next: 2. Pocket presence
2. NY Jets fans should keep an eye on Justin Fields’ pocket presence
Another flaw that scouts have found with Fields’ game has been his presence in the pocket, especially when the first read isn’t there.
I mentioned earlier that it would be good for him to escape the pocket and make things happen, but only when he is under pressure.
At times, Fields relies a bit too much on his athleticism. He doesn’t let the play develop. While he makes things happen for his team, it’s not exactly what NFL scouts and fans want to see out of a prospect that may become their franchise quarterback.
In order to make it in the NFL, quarterbacks need to be able to stand tall in the pocket and throw. Making big plays with your legs is great, but good NFL quarterbacks need to be able to sit in the pocket, read a defense, and make a throw.
Want your voice heard? Join the The Jet Press team!
Now we may not see much of this from Fields tonight. After all, his job is to go out and win the football game. If the best way to do that for the Buckeyes is with Fields’ legs, so be it. But Jets fans should keep an eye on how he plays when he isn’t rolling out or running around.
Can he stand tall and deliver the ball downfield? Can Fields be patient and wait for the receivers to get open? All good questions that Jets fans should be interested in.
If Fields can do those things, Jets fans should be excited.
Next: 3. Making the reads
3. NY Jets fans should keep an eye on Justin Fields’ ability to make proper reads
Similar to establishing himself with a pocket presence, Fields also needs to prove that he can make good reads when his first option is not open.
Ohio State head coach Ryan Day is a very good schemer, which means Fields doesn’t need to make the second or third read very often. This is typical not only with Ohio State offenses, but college offenses, in general.
It’s also something that Jets fans should be very interested in when watching this game.
When Fields does have to make the extra read, does he remain calm and make the read or does he panic and just try to run? Sometimes scrambling is the right move. But more often than not, it’s the only move that Fields goes with.
The Jets will have a new head coach and coaching staff next season. But even a great NFL coach won’t be able to always scheme the first option open. Quarterbacks must learn to check out of their first read if the option isn’t there.
Fields is going to have to make the second and third reads in the NFL. While he may not have a ton in tonight’s ball game, keep an eye on how Fields reacts when he has to be patient.
Does he make a good choice or does he panic and force the ball into a bad situation? These are the questions Fields must answer prior to April’s draft.
Next: 4. Handling the moment
4. NY Jets fans should keep an eye on how Justin Fields handles the moment
Justin Fields has been one of the top prospects in the country ever since high school. He’s dealt with plenty of high-pressure situations. Heck, he was in the College Football Playoff last year and played relatively well.
But tonight is different.
This is by far the most pressure that Fields has faced, at least in his time at Ohio State. The season and his college career are on the line.
More from The Jet Press
- NY Jets: Jonnu Smith would be a smart free-agent target
- NY Jets: 3 non-quarterback trade targets on offense
- NY Jets expected to be ‘much more aggressive’ in free agency this year
- NY Jets: Patriots will not use the franchise tag on Joe Thuney
- NY Jets officially place the franchise tag on safety Marcus Maye
It’s a revenge game — one that they are underdogs by more than a touchdown in. It’s also a game in which the opposing coach has publicly disrespected the team. Oh, did I mention he’s facing off against Trevor Lawrence as well?
How will Fields respond to the pressure? Last year in this situation, he played well for much of the night but threw two interceptions and ultimately cost his team the game.
Can he stay focused, not let the moment get to him, and finally beat Clemson? This is the moment the Buckeyes have been waiting a year for after all.
At the end of the day, this may just be one of the most telling things to look for. Does he crumble under the pressure or rise to the occasion, win the big game, and lead his team to the championship game?
For Jets fans, they better hope so, because that’s exactly the type of guy you want leading your franchise.