New York Jets need John Franklin-Myers to maximize an enormous mismatch vs. Buffalo Bills
Playing on the road against a 9-3 Buffalo Bills team that owns the AFC’s best point differential (+124), the New York Jets will not hold many mismatches in their favor this Sunday – which means it is a requirement to maximize the few mismatches they do have.
There is one pro-Jets mismatch in particular that has grabbed my attention, and it might actually be the most lopsided player-versus-player matchup in the entire game: defensive end John Franklin-Myers vs. right tackle Spencer Brown.
For many reasons, Franklin-Myers has a chance to utterly dominate this matchup and make life miserable for Josh Allen. Let’s dive into it.
John Franklin-Myers vs. Spencer Brown
Brown missed the Bills’ loss to the Jets in Week 9. It was his fourth consecutive game on the sidelines due to an ankle injury.
David Quessenberry replaced Brown at right tackle in that game. The Jets took advantage, most notably in the fourth quarter when Bryce Huff beat him for a strip-sack.
After the Jets exploited a backup in the previous game, you would think the return of a starter would represent an upgrade for Buffalo. But that might not actually be the case.
Brown is struggling mightily since coming back from his ankle injury against the Vikings in Week 10. Over the last four weeks, Brown has allowed 16 pressures, the most of any offensive lineman in the NFL over that span. Brown’s pressure rate over this stretch is 8.9%, which is worse than Quessenberry’s rate this season (7.5%). The league average for tackles is 5.5%.
Not only is Brown playing his worst football as of late, but the Jets already have a history of beating him up.
Brown last faced the Jets in Week 18 of the 2021 season. It remains one of the worst games in his career. Brown coughed up 7 pressures, which remains a career-high.
Franklin-Myers was solely responsible for that number. JFM manhandled Brown the entire game. Franklin-Myers himself was credited with 7 pressures in the performance, although even that number undersells Franklin-Myers’s dominance. He had quite a few more wins beyond just the seven, which were not credited as pressures since the ball was out quickly, but were wins nonetheless.
Here are just a few of Franklin-Myers’s quick/dominant victories over Brown in that game.
There were plenty more wins in addition to just the ones in this cut-up, but you get the idea. This was a shellacking.
Brown had no answer for Franklin-Myers’s power moves or inside moves. The main reason was that Franklin-Myers won the hand-fighting battle all day long. When going for a power move, Franklin-Myers consistently got both of his hands into Brown’s body to maximize his leverage and force. When trying to go inside, Franklin-Myers’s finesse moves were on point, as he consistently dodged Brown’s punch attempts. His swipes and rips were executed tremendously.
Franklin-Myers did an excellent job of combining these two threats to set himself up for success. When Brown got aggressive on Franklin-Myers, Franklin-Myers went inside on him. When Brown sat back in anticipation of an inside move, Franklin-Myers responded by bull rushing him.
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In fairness to Brown, he performed better against the Jets in his Week 10 matchup against them last season, allowing only one pressure. Still, the dominance that Franklin-Myers showcased in the Orchard Park matchup is impossible to ignore. He had Brown’s number all afternoon.
This is the second consecutive Jets game in which Buffalo is using a right tackle that has previously been destroyed by the Jets. The same applied to Quessenberry going into the Week 9 game.
Quessenberry, like Brown, was dismantled by the Jets in his previous matchup against them. As a member of the Titans in 2021, Quessenberry allowed a career-high 11 pressures against the Jets in his Week 4 trip to MetLife Stadium. Bryce Huff was particularly excellent against him in that Titans game. As it turns out, Huff and the Jets went on to prove that they did indeed have Quessenberry’s number in their second meeting against him, replicating their success in the prior matchup.
Franklin-Myers and the Jets must do the same with Brown this week. If Franklin-Myers can replicate his previous performance against Brown, the Jets’ defense will likely enjoy a very successful day.
Here’s why a stellar Franklin-Myers performance would have such a high chance of being a game-altering boost for New York: If Franklin-Myers is equally as successful in this game as he was in this previous meeting, it will likely lead to a substantially greater impact due to the improved supporting cast around Franklin-Myers.
In the Week 18 game, Franklin-Myers’s impact was limited since the poor coverage in the secondary allowed Allen to get the ball out quickly. Sacks became hits and hits became hurries because Allen was not forced to hesitate in the pocket. But now that the Jets have a far more talented secondary, Franklin-Myers will consistently get the extra split-second he needs to turn hurries into hits and hits into sacks.
Franklin-Myers played like an absolute game-wrecker in Week 18. It was just hard for the casual observer to notice it since the Jets’ lackluster secondary did not give him the time he needed to make the splashy plays that appear on highlight reels.
With the secondary the Jets have now, a replication of Franklin-Myers’s previous performance would result in a flurry of big-time hits and sacks – the exact momentum-swingers New York will need to seize control on the road against a better team.
Huff and Jermaine Johnson will also get their share of chances to face Brown. They each line up at left defensive end. Look for them to take advantage of this matchup just as much as Franklin-Myers. I am particularly intrigued to see what Huff can do, as he missed the Week 18 game last year.
Football is a game of matchups. Sometimes, a player just has another player’s number.
The Jets had one of these matchups in their last Buffalo game with Huff against Quessenberry, and it won them the game. They are lucky enough to have another DL-versus-OL mismatch this week with Franklin-Myers against Brown. A lopsided one-on-one matchup in the trenches can level the playing field for an underdog team if that matchup is fully maximized.
To get another upset victory over Buffalo, Franklin-Myers’s dominance over Brown has to be a part of it.