The Browns picked up 115 yards on the ground, although their running backs were held to a respectable 72 yards on 18 carries (with the balance of the yardage on Jason Campbell scrambles and a big gain on an end around by Josh Gordon). However, it was in the passing game where the defensive line made their biggest contributions, sacking Campbell three times and combining for 25 pressures.
Muhammad Wilkerson had a pretty quiet first half, but the Browns’ pass protection couldn’t cope with Quinton Coples in the first half and once they adjusted to that, Wilkerson was freed up to do more damage. That’s exactly what he did, with all but one of his six pressures coming in the second half. Wilkerson was also credited with half a sack and was in on three tackles close to the line. Perhaps his most impressive play of all saw him chase down a running back on a screen pass to hold that play to a six yard gain when it could have gone for much more.
Leger Douzable deserves some credit here too. He got into the backfield to flush Campbell out of the pocket and force a throw away in the first half and then had a half-sack on two consecutive snaps in the second half. Douzable has been an underrated pickup by John Idzik, playing over 20% of the snaps and grading out positively. When your starters are so strong, it’s often difficult for a backup to come in and prevent any kind of drop-off, but Douzable has managed that most of the time. Having said that, he did replace an injured Sheldon Richardson in the second quarter and the Browns blocked him out of the play to score on a touchdown run on the very next snap. Still, Douzable – who is having a career year as a pass rusher – has played well enough for the Jets to consider re-signing him.
Another backup that has done well all year is Kenrick Ellis and he stuffed one run for no gain and got some good penetration on two other plays. He did, however, jump offside once.
The Jets haven’t missed a beat whenever Ellis has entered the game for the excellent Damon Harrison. Harrison had a quiet game statistically with no tackles, but was still an immovable force in the middle most of the time and did help bottle up a couple of runs. In this game, he instead made contributions as a pass rusher, flushing Campbell from the pocket on one play and batting down a pass at the line on another. Harrison also jumped offside once.
Finally, Sheldon Richardson was called for a seemingly bogus roughing the passer penalty after he fell on Campbell following a hit in the red zone. I’m not sure how he could have prevented that. Perhaps that should be re-classified as “Illegal use of the laws of gravity” or something. He went on to compound the “mistake” by removing his helmet and getting called for an unsportsmanlike penalty. You have to admire Richardson’s desire, but he must ensure he keeps his emotions under control, because it would be disappointing to see him called for something similar in a more critical situation.
Richardson did have a couple of pressures and was credited with six tackles, including one at the goal line on the snap after his roughing penalty. He’s had a remarkably productive season and currently holds a lead of four over JJ Watt for the most combined tackles for 3-4 defensive ends around the league. It would be good to see him maintain that.
Next up…more on Coples, as the linebackers play their part.