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Grading the Jets: Defense nearly flawless in win over Browns

Tarell Basham #93 of the Jets stops Baker

Tarell Basham #93 of the Jets stops Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns on a 4th and 1 rush late during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020. Credit: Jim McIsaac

OFFENSE: It wasn’t pretty and plenty of yards and points were left on the field. But the Jets played a clean game. Sam Darnold helped engineer three touchdown drives. He threw two TD passes and was a blocker on a third. Slot receiver Jamison Crowder threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to slot receiver Braxton Berrios, who lined up at tailback. That started a run of 20 unanswered points. Darnold didn’t throw a pick and the Jets didn’t turn the ball over. But they had a couple of opportunities to put the game away. They needed the defense to shut down Cleveland.

GRADE: B

DEFENSE: Interim defensive coordinator Frank Bush deserves the game ball for designing a game plan that held the No. 3 rushing attack to more than 100 yards below its average. And the Jets’ defense didn’t have its top run stopper, Quinnen Williams, who went on IR this week with a neck injury. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt each had rushing touchdowns but the Browns only totaled 45 rushing yards on a day when they were without their starting receiving corps because they were on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The Browns came in averaging 152.6 yards per game. They never got anything going against the Jets’ defense. That D also sacked Baker Mayfield four times and stripped the ball from him three times, including on a fourth-and-1 that sealed the game for the Jets. Tarell Basham had a sack and two forced fumbles, both in the final 3:30 of the game. But it wasn’t all perfect. The Jets committed two more roughing the passer penalties. They also had a defensive pass interference penalty that extended a Browns drive and led to a touchdown.

GRADE: A-

SPECIAL TEAMS: Sam Ficken kicked a field goal late to put the Jets up seven and made two extra points. But the special teams unit had a rough day overall. Ficken had an extra point blocked and a field goal blocked, and also kicked the ball out of bounds on the kickoff following his crucial field goal. It gave the Browns the ball at the 40 to start their final drive. The defense came up with a big play at the end to preserve the victory. Usually reliable punter Braden Mann didn’t have his best game. His punts only averaged 37.1 yards. He had a 14-yard punt in the first half.

GRADE: D-

COACHING: That’s two straight wins against two teams that are fighting for a playoff spot. The coaches still have the players’ attention. The Jets weren’t satisfied after finally winning their first game of the year last week. They jumped on a team again. Bush has done a terrific job the last two weeks slowing down offenses that can put up points. Yes, the Browns were undermanned at receiver with their three starters being put on the reserve/COVID-19 list. But their vaunted run game was held in check. Gase also got creative with the offense, finally. It energized the whole team. It should have happened sooner.

GAME: A

New York Sports