Seven Take-Aways From the 2023 Hall of Fame Game
For the New York Jets, neither Zach Wilson nor Tim Boyle was overly impressive. They didn’t make any mistakes, but they also didn’t make any plays that would indicate that either one of them be challenging Rodgers this season. Chris Streveler on the other hand was downright terrible. He completed one for seven and threw an interception. It makes me wonder how the Jets gave him ANY playing time last year over Joe Flacco.
For the Cleveland Browns, Dorian Thompson-Robinson (DTR) outplayed Kellen Mond, and, to me, it wasn’t even close. Mond couldn’t complete anything but screen passes, while DTR was 8 of 11 for 82 yards and a passing TD along with six carries for 36 yards, AND a BLOCK that helped score a TD. DTR had a 124.1 QBR, and Mond was at a 74.9. Mond should be listed as QB3 until he proves otherwise.
The only thing that the Jets proved tonight in their running game is that the Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA) that they signed this offseason were UFAs for a good reason. Undrafted Rookie, Travis Dye had nine carries for a measly 12 yards and third-year RB Damarea Crockett, who had stints with the Texans and Broncos, had four carries for only seven yards. Neither of these guys is in the top four on the Jets depth chart and now you know why.
The Browns on the other hand showed great depth at RB with their #3 and #4 guys, Demetric Felton Jr. (who is in his third year in the NFL), and John Kelly Jr. (who is in his third year with the Browns). Felton had seven carries for 46 yards and a TD, while Kelly had ten carries for 42 yards. Undrafted rookie Hassan Hall also saw five carries for 34 yards. Not bad.
The Jets once again disappointed in this area. Nobody is even worth mentioning because nobody had more than two receptions for 18 yards.
The Browns first pick in the draft (in the third round), Cedric Tillman showed some good flashes in his first professional game. Tillman only had two catches for 35 yards, but he was targeted two other time, one of which resulted in a Mond interception. Austin Watkins Jr. (what is up with all the “juniors”?), who has spent time with the 49ers and Buccaneers over the last two year as an undrafted WR, also had two catches for 35 yards and a TD. Watkins is fighting for a spot on a team that, unfortunately for him, has quite a bit of WR talent.
The Jets’ first round draft pick Will McDonald IV is the REAL DEAL. This guy is big, fast, agile, and was causing all kinds of disruption. McDonald only recorded three tackles, but he was pressuring the Browns QBs all night. He looked really good against other second-stringers, so he should be able to at least be a viable back-up and challenge Jermaine Johnson for the Right Defensive End spot behind Carl Lawson.
The Browns had some good Linebacker play out of 3rd year man, Tony Fields, who had six tackles including one for a loss, and undrafted free agent Charlie Thomas III who had five tackles including one for a loss. Both are fighting for a spot at Weakside Linebacker behind Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah.
The Extra Point
Back-up Center for the Jets, Joe Tippmann, held his own vs. the Browns DTs, including Cleveland’s third round pick, Siaki Ika, who only had two tackles on the night. Tippmann looked quick off the snap and was able to read the defense well, while Siaki looked slow, weak, and only got tackles when the Jets ran directly at him.
The 35-year-old Greg Zuerlein still has quite the leg on him. He was three for three, and made kicks from 54, 53, and 44 yards. Seeing as how Zuerlein hasn’t hit more than 83% of his kicks over the last FOUR SEASONS, this was a bit of a surprise and worth mentioning.
Cleveland fans need to NOT get their hopes up. The Browns looked better tonight, but overall, it’s because they were playing 2nd, 3rd, and 4th string guys against, mostly 3rd, 4th, and “won’t make it on the team” sting guys from the Jets. New York will still finish with a better record this upcoming season, and make the playoffs, while the Browns will struggle in the AFC North, and be lucky not to finish in the basement again. Thanks for the “read”!