Each week, the PFF analysis team will bring you break downs of the most important matchups for each game of the NFL season.
Coverage by: Cyrus Geller
Matchup: New York Jets offense vs. Cleveland Browns defense
- WR Jermaine Kearse vs. CB Jason McCourty – Jason McCourty is having a terrific 2017 season, as he currently ranks sixth out of 111 qualified corners with an overall grade of 87.7. Quarterbacks only have a passer rating of 66.1 when throwing at McCourty, which is tied for 27th best out of 113 corners. He will be facing off with Jermaine Kearse for a good portion of this game, who is having a solid season in his own right. Josh McCown has a passer rating of 106.6 when targeting Kearse, which leads the Jets and is 27th out of 92 qualified receivers.
- T Brent Qvale vs. Edge Emmanuel Ogbah – Ogbah has been the Browns’ best edge rusher this year, leading them in total pressures with eight, and hurries with six, which is tied for 26th out of 57 4-3 edge rushers this season. Qvale has struggled thus far in 2017, as his pass-blocking efficiency rating of 91.1 is 75th out of all 93 offensive tackles in the NFL. Last week against the Jaguars he allowed three hurries and surrendered a sack in 39 pass-blocking snaps. His overall grade of 57.6 currently puts him tied for 40th out of 68 qualified offensive tackles.
- QB Josh McCown vs. S Jabrill Peppers – McCown will have opportunities to go after Peppers in this game, as currently Peppers is the second-worst graded safety in the league this year at 36.2. McCown is the 11th most accurate quarterback on deep passes this year with an accuracy percentage of 46.2, and he has thrown for the 10th most deep passing yards at 220. Look for him to take a few deep shots at Peppers and that entire Cleveland secondary.
Coverage by: David Neumann
Matchup: Cleveland Browns offense vs. New York Jets defense
- QB DeShone Kizer vs. Jets zone coverage — It’s been a rough start to the season for the Browns rookie quarterback. Kizer’s 50.9 overall grade sits dead last, and it’s difficult to find many areas of his game that provide reason for optimism. One area that’s been especially problematic has been zone coverage, where his league-worst 40.5 passer rating against zone coverage is nearly 15 points below the next worst quarterback (Joe Flacco, 55.1). Over one-quarter of Kizer’s throws against zone coverage (25.3 percent) have received a negative grade, the highest rate in the league. He’ll be facing a Jets defense that has played zone coverage on 58.1 percent of snaps through four games.
- TE David Njoku vs. S Jamal Adams — Considering the Browns’ struggles in the passing game, it’s no surprise that rookie tight end David Njoku has been unable to get going so far. The former Hurricane has just 12 targets on the season and is one of just seven qualifying tight ends to average less than 1.0 yard per route run (0.99) through the first quarter of the season. Part of the issue is that Njoku has detached from the formation as a wide receiver on just 26 of his 126 snaps on the season, which was an area he exceled in while at Miami. Njoku should see a solid amount of fellow rookie Jamal Adams on Sunday, who is off to a much better start. Adams is the 15th-highest graded safety (81.7) after four weeks, and is one of just four safeties to earn a coverage grade and run defense grade above 80.0 so far.
- HB Duke Johnson Jr. vs. Jets linebackers — One of the few bright spots offensively for the Browns has been Johnson, who is the team’s highest-graded skill-position player (78.0) and one of just two non-linemen with an overall grade above 70.0. Johnson’s best work has come in the passing game, where he’s averaged 1.95 yards per route run (eighth) and forced 10 missed tackles (second) on his way to the third-highest receiving grade for a running back (89.5) through four weeks. He should find plenty of room to work against a shaky Jets linebacking corps. As a team, the Jets have allowed 7.56 yards per attempt (24th) and a 110.5 passer rating (23rd) on passes to opposing running backs.