The New York Jets started off their 2015 regular season on the right foot with a commanding 31-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns. After a sluggish start, the Jets ripped off 24 unanswered points and turned in a balanced, disciplined performance. The two numbers that mattered the most today? The Jets had four penalties and were plus four in the turnover battle…
Offensively, the Jets formula was relatively simple: you have a very good wide receiver and very good running back in Brandon Marshall and Chris Ivory, respectively…give them the ball frequently. Marshall paced the Jets with 9 targets, finishing with 6 catches for 62 yards with a touchdown. More importantly, he had a game changing play when he ripped an interception away from Tashaun Gipson. Ivory was the team’s workhorse, as expected, racking up 21 touches for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns. Get used to seeing these two as the featured players on the offense.
Ryan Fitzpatrick finished 15/24 for 179 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Despite 2 or 3 shaky decisions, Fitzpatrick was very good overall, particularly in the two minute drill to end the first half, culminating in a touchdown strike to Eric Decker. He also pushed the ball down the field better than expected, highlighted by a 43 yard connection to Chris Owusu, who was quietly excellent with 4 receptions for 55 yards in his most extensive action since joining the team.
Maybe the biggest story on offense was just how good the offensive line played. Cleveland is stacked with talent upfront and Fitzpatrick was not sacked a single time (except for on an errant snap over his head) and they consistently opened up holes for Ivory and Bilal Powell (12 carries, 62 yards).
Defensively, two players stood out in the secondary and they weren’t necessarily the names many probably expected: Calvin Pryor and Marcus Williams. Pryor was all over the field in his best game as a pro, finishing with 10 tackles, a half helicopter of Josh McCown and solid downfield coverage.
Williams stepped in for an injured Antonio Cromartie, intercepted Johnny Manziel and brought both steady coverage and tackling. It seems like Cromartie could miss extended time and the Jets may not see much of a drop off, if any, from him to Williams.
Elsewhere, Leonard Williams got a strong push all game and helped anchor the Jets run defense. Trevor Reilly recorded a strip sack and Lorenzo Mauldin assisted in forcing another Manziel fumble before suffering a scary head injury, which we are still waiting for further information on. Buster Skrine brought stability to the slot and Marcus Gilchrist looked better than he did in the pre-season, avoiding any missed tackles or miscommunications in coverage.
It was encouraging to see a sluggish defensive first half course corrected at halftime and the level of play rise so substantially in the second half. The Colts offense will be a notable step up from Cleveland next week but this was a strong starting point for a work in progress Jets defense.
Stay with us for a victory Monday GIF dump tomorrow, along with No Huddle before we start breaking down this week’s film and previewing Jets vs. Colts…on Monday Night Football.