On Fridays throughout the year we are going to publish an article from one of our fans/regular readers of the site. We want to hear from you and hopefully source a few new regular contributors. David Acosta submitted today with an article about the New York Jets season debut. If you are interested in submitting an article for next Friday, send an e-mail along to JoeC@TurnOnTheJets.com!
The New York Jets are 6-1 in opening day games going back to 2009. To say that the resounding 31-10 victory over the Cleveland Browns Sunday felt different, may seem like a stretch given our past success but I would contend that this was in fact different. Obviously there is a new coaching regime, front office, personnel staff, and most importantly lots of new faces on the 53 man roster. But when I say, THIS WAS DIFFERENT, I think it goes deeper than that…BIG PLAYS
The Jets were dynamic and exciting on both sides of the football, forcing five turnovers, knocking the opposing quarterback out of the game (and into next month) and turning those turnovers into 28 points. With Geno Smith, Michael Vick, and Mark Sanchez as our quarterbacks over the last six years how many times can we say that the Jets won the turnover battle?
Offensively Erick Decker, Chris Ivory, Brandon Marshall and even Chris Owusu were all involved in plays that were pivotal in swinging the momentum. Ryan Fitzpatrick displayed a poised command of this offense that allowed the Jets to control the pace of the game, and take advantage of Cleveland’s many miscues. With 179 yards passing and 15 completions, Ryan Fitzpatrick wasn’t exactly slinging the ball all over the field, but the plays that he did make were impactful.
Red Zone EfficiencyThe Jets were very efficient on red zone possessions, converting each opportunity into points en route to the 31-10 victory. If you are even a casual fan of the New York Jets, you understand that this was one of their biggest deficiencies over the last six years specifically under offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. In years passed, our offensive and defensive unit just seemed to lack cohesion in both game plan and execution. The result was baffling play calling and personnel groupings in the red zone. Against the Browns on Sunday, the Jets allowed their work horse Running Back Chris Ivory to do what he was brought here to do: bruise, bang, and plow his way down field, punishing defenders and busting through arm tackles on his way to two red zone touchdowns. Chan Gailey was versatile in his approach and mixed in the passing game as well, resulting in scores to both Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker.
I alluded to this in the BIG PLAYS section, but this is such a colossal change for the Jets defense that it deserves to be repeated. The Jets defense forced FOUR turnovers. FOUR. As great of a defensive mind as Rex Ryan is, forcing turnovers wasn’t the team’s specialty while he was the Head Coach. This, along with our anemic offensive output caused our defense to be on the field for too long, and give up long drives that likely would have been mitigated had we turned some of the many exotic blitzes into forced turnovers.
An honest assessment of the defensive performance has to include the fact that it gave up a LOT more yards and time of possession than people anticipated, to a Cleveland Browns offense that many feel is not ready for prime time. This will have to be cleaned up. Also, the dirty little secret of Sunday’s performance was that this unit missed the presence of Sheldon Richardson. But when you score 28 points off of four turnovers, your defense deserves to be cut some slack, Hopefully Sheldon’s return, and some good coaching will improve this defense which has many new faces, and a newly installed Todd Bowles’ scheme.Roster Depth
When Antonio Cromartie went down with a knee injury the entire stadium fell silent. In the infant stages of a season where the Jets have already lost key starters on both sides of the ball, losing a starting corner and leader in Cromartie would have been another blow to what feels like a promising season. Last year in training camp, losing CBs Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle proved to be a disaster of epic proportions that the Jets never recovered from.
This year? No problem. The roster depth that has been bolstered since the arrival of GM Mike Maccagnan. Marcus Williams, not only replaced Cromartie, but also made a key interception of a Johnny Manziel pass in the 3rd quarter. The decision to keep guys like Marcus Williams and Darrin Walls around instead of tossing them aside after big free agent additions in the secondary shows a commitment to developing the roster from 1 through 53. Something this team has greatly needed since recent drafts have provided few starting caliber players.