Even though the Jets were playing the Browns, who hadn’t won a game in almost two years, it was not like they were playing the same old Browns. Cleveland was coming off two solid performances against the likes of the Steelers and Saints resulting in a 0-1-1 record, which could and should have been 2-0. So seeing the final score be 21-17 on the road against what has proven to be a tough opponent in the early going was not surprising. What was surprising was how they got to that final score and these four have a lot to do with it.
Head Coach, Todd Bowles
After what was a very Todd Bowlesian performance in Week 2, the Head Coach deserves a lot of heat after Week 3 as well. The first 28 minutes or so of the game were going good for the most part. The Jets had a 14-0 lead and the opposing offense seemed to have zero to little answer of how to move the ball. That was until Baker Mayfield entered the game in the final moments of the first half. However, Bowles did have a couple miscues in the first half like using two timeouts in the first 20 game minutes and not having players under control like Trumaine Johnson and Parry Nickerson. While Nickerson didn’t get flagged, Johnson did twice in three plays. While the second penalty didn’t hurt as much, the first unsportsmanlike conduct penalty changed what would have been 4th and long on Cleveland’s 26 into a first down which let the drive continue on which resulted in a punt that pinned the offense on their own 9 yard line. Because the offense couldn’t move the ball, it gave the now Baker Mayfield-led offense tremendous field position and able to put up an easy 3 points going into half. This wouldn’t even be the worst of it.
The second half the coaching staff did what they did best and failed to make any key adjustments in the second half even though there was a new QB under center (getting flashbacks of the Matt Moore games). They seemed to have little clue of how to rattle the young QB getting his first action on no notice. Granted, Mayfield entering the game did change the crowd which undoubtedly helped the home team out. On the offensive side, while Bates is calling the plays, Bowles still has a say on how he wants the game to run and he did not seem to care how conservative the offensive play calling was in a much closer game than the scoreboard led on. SNY’s Ralph Vacchianno has reported that the 4th year coach is not safe. If the trend continues for him, it is likely he won’t see a fifth.
Offensive Coordinator, Jeremy Bates
This was the first time it felt like Bates was in over his head as a play caller. From the get go it was a conservative gameplan. While it is good to try to keep the running game involved, you have to try to get some big plays mixed in. And I’m not even talking about 30 yard bombs, I’m talking about anything past 5 yards. After watching the game back, Darnold didn’t see some open targets down the field so he does deserve some blame, but it was run after run after screen after dink and dunk. It was a very boring offense to watch outside of some plays by Quincy Enunwa and Bilal Powell.
The offense has consistently been in 2nd and 3rd and longs and it didn’t change last week. Bates needs to put his offense in more manageable situations, while also getting some help from the players up front. But one thing he needs to scrap from the playbook immediately is the bootleg where Darnold turns and throws across the entire field, first it was a pick six and then an 8 yard loss. Another coach that needs some improvement.
Defensive Coordinator, Kacy Rodgers
This was a tale of two halves which I touched on above. Rodgers’ game plan against Tyrod Taylor and the Browns offense was incredible. He designed exotic blitzes with Adams and Skrine, consistently getting pressure and made sure Taylor stayed contained in the pocket for the most part by filling gaps. The defense may have been bailed out a bit by some poor throws but nevertheless, the defense was have quite the game while Tyrod Taylor was on the field.
When Baker Mayfield entered it was a different story consistently getting the ball out early and efficiently. It seemed like the defense stopped sending pressure, which they did but not as much as we’d think because of how quickly Mayfield got the ball out. The middle of the field seemed to be wide open play after play, something they failed to adjust. I think missing Marcus Maye has been big and while he is an easy upgrade over Doug Middleton, it doesn’t excuse Rodgers and the defense having a poor performance in the 2nd half. This was a tough grade because of how good the first half was but the second half was very rough to watch and still ended in a loss.
Special Teams Coordinator, Brant Boyer
A big reason the Jets even had a chance at a second touchdown was because of the special teams. Kevin Pierre-Louis was able to get his hands on a punt to set the offense up with too good of field position not to score. Jason Myers has continued to do a good job nailing his two extra points and lone field goal. The starting field position hasn’t been great but I won’t blame Andre Roberts or the unit because they haven’t really had a chance the last two games. The unit still looks good as a whole, something we didn’t expect after watching the preseason. Got to give Boyer some credit.