Cleveland Browns cornerback Denzel Ward struggled against the Tennessee Titans, so he could become a target for the New York Jets offense.
After a stellar rookie season that earned him a trip to the Pro Bowl, Ward was picked apart by the Tennessee Titans passing attack during Week 1, allowing a pair of big plays to rookie A.J. Brown, while also drawing a pair of holding penalties.
Brown used his size to overpower Ward after making his receptions and break free from Ward’s attempts to bring him down. Ward’s struggles to tackle Brown created flashbacks to when former Browns defensive coordinator Gregg Williams criticized Ward’s tackling multiple times in 2018.
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Williams will once again get a chance to observe Ward’s tackling first-hand when the Browns travel to play the New York Jets on Monday Night Football. Williams, now the defensive coordinator of the Jets, could even potentially help the Jets offense by sharing some of his knowledge about Ward’s game.
After allowing multiple big plays to the Titans, Williams may notice weaknesses in Ward’s game that the Jets could take advantage of. Working with a player every day for an entire season provides a coach plenty of knowledge about where a player excels and where a player needs to improve.
The Jets showed during Week 1 they do not posses the most potent offensive attack. New York’s offense could only muster 223 total yards against a surprisingly stout Buffalo Bills defense, and were only able to score one touchdown.
They were also dealt a blow on Wednesday after it was announced one of their top receivers, Quincy Enunwa, will miss the rest of the 2019 season due to a neck injury. In response, New York made a trade with New England to acquire Demaryius Thomas. Although Thomas is expected to play Monday night, there will be plenty of questions about New York’s wide receiver corps.
Robby Anderson and Jamison Crowder will likely be the top two receivers for the Jets on Monday night. The lack of a star wide receiver will likely keep Ward on the left side of the defense and not shadow any of the Jets’ receivers.
With that in mind, Williams could provide any intel he has on Ward and the rest of the Browns defense to Adam Gase, who could use the information to create favorable matchups for the Jets offense. And after his confidence was likely shaken after his Week 1 performance, it could be an opportunity for the Jets to take advantage of a young cornerback like Ward.
Ward could have easily grown out of the issues he had as a rookie under Williams and any previous knowledge Williams has could prove to be fruitless. But after his performance Week 1, Ward may be more vulnerable to allowing chunk plays than anticipated.
Without a threat at wide receiver who intimidates defenses, the Jets are going to need to take advantage of matchups they can create. Denzel Ward may be a part of a matchup they feel they can exploit when the Browns and Jets take the field on Monday night.