Might be going a little out of the box here with the selection of Ross Cockrell at this week’s X Factor versus the New York Jets.
But the Jets do have one thing going for them. Size at receiver. And Brandon Marshall is their best weapon, all 6’4 of him. The Jets’ offense is sputtering and their best source of production they’ve gotten the last two weeks has basically come from throwing jump balls to Marshall. Last week against Seattle, his four receptions went for 14, 41, 17 (TD), and 17 yards.
This is especially true of a Jets team that will certainly be without Eric Decker, may be without Quincy Enunwa, leaving two rookies and Jeremy Ross at receiver for a team that has yet to complete a pass to a tight end all season. That’s my long-winded way of saying Marshall is about all they got.
I bet he sees 10 targets, minimum, Sunday afternoon.
They like to isolate him and aren’t afraid to target anyone, including Richard Sherman. Sherman was able to best the Jets a couple times, including coming away with a pick, and Cockrell is going to have to win a couple times to discourage Ryan Fitzpatrick honing in and throwing fades and back shoulder throws all day. Cockrell is no Sherman but he needs to be his stunt-double this week.
Being a cornerback is a tough life to walk and matchups like this show why. There isn’t much help you can give. A three step fade isn’t going to give a safety a lot of time to come over and help, even if you’re intention is to try and bracket. And a back shoulder throw? Forget about it. Have to hope the corner plays with good technique, has some ball skills, and hope you get lucky.
It was Cockrell who basically shadowed A.J. Green and Marshall is cut from a similar cloth though probably not as dynamic as Green. So it would make sense for them to do it again. Like the Bengals’ game, expect Cockrell to be rolled up to the line of scrimmage and not give Marshall a free release.
If Marshall gets shut down, if Cockrell can produce a splash play like Sherman, the Steelers will substantially increase their odds of winning.