No tanking going on here! The New York Jets are winners of two straight. Last week was a wild one against the Jacksonville Jaguars winning in overtime, 23-20.It was a game that had no business going to overtime, but two mistakes by quarterback Josh McCown opened the door for the Jaguars to tie the game.
With all the twists and turns, they still found a way to get the win and improve their record to 2-2. They are currently in second place in the AFC East, ahead of the New England Patriots. I never thought that would happen this season and I’m sure I’m not alone.
Now the Jets will look to make it three in a row against the 0-4 Cleveland Browns. The Jets are 0-2 so far this season on the road, so they will look to change that this week. Let’s take a look at the keys to victory.
Leonard Williams and Mo Wilkerson Must Record a Sack
We’re four games into the season and the Jets two best defensive linemen, Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson, have yet to record a sack.
The two have combined for 51 sacks over the course of their careers but have yet to impact a game by bringing down the quarterback in 2017. It’s a bit mind-blowing, players as talented as they are with a proven track record of getting to the quarterback failing to do so this season.
This could be the week that both Williams and Wilkerson record a sack. The Browns offensive line has struggled to protect their rookie quarterback, DeShone Kizer.
The Jets also struggle to protect their quarterback and, as hard as it is to believe, the Browns offensive line has been worse. They have allowed 13 sacks this season, which is an average of 3.2 sacks per game.
That ranks seventh in the league for most sacks allowed per game. Williams and Wilkerson must be licking their chops coming into this one. But these guys have to get going in order for the Jets defense to dominate.
Stop The Run
Stopping the run is always important, but even more so this week. The Browns want to run the football—it’s a crucial part of their offensive game plan.
In fact, Browns coach Hue Jackson said earlier this year that “the run game has got to become our backbone. It does. I am not running from that. We are going to run the football.”
Isaiah Crowell has not had success running the ball so far this season. He is only averaging 33.5 yards per game and 2.9 yards per attempt.
Last year he averaged 59.5 yards per game and 4.3 yards per attempt. If the Jets can continue the trend of the Browns not being able to run the football, that should cause Cleveland’s offense to struggle.
Kizer is a rookie quarterback and getting the run game going is the quarterback’s best friend, especially for a rookie. Forcing Kizer to beat them is exactly what the Jets defense has to do.
Kizer has not been impressive so far, completing just 51 percent of his passes and sporting a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 3:8.
Feed the Backs
I’ve been calling for Bilal Powell to get going and last week he proved he is the Jets biggest offensive weapon. He rushed 21 times for 163 yards and a touchdown. The touchdown was a 75-yard run, the second-longest in Jets history.
But Powell wasn’t the only back that had success on the ground. Elijah McGuire, the team’s sixth-round pick out of Louisana-Lafayette, had a breakout game himself, carrying the ball 10 times for 93 yards and a touchdown. McGuire also broke a long touchdown run of 69 yards.
Matt Forte is once again expected to miss Week 5 with his turf-toe injury. So Powell and McGuire should see a handful of touches in this game.
And after the game they both had last week, they need to get the ball as much as possible. The Jets offensive line deserves some credit as they did a great job opening holes up and allowing these backs to run wild.
After McCown turned the ball over late in the second half a couple times, he lost his rhythm. The Jets do need to get him going again, and a strong running game will only help to open up the field for the passing game.
McCown has connected on deep throws down the field in each of the last three weeks. The home run ball has been there for him, especially when connecting to Robby Anderson. Hopefully, that trend continues in Week 5.
The Jets should win this one and continue to disappoint the fans that want them to tank. I’ve got the Jets winning 26-17.