The winless Cleveland Browns are set to play host to their third consecutive beatable opponent in the New York Jets. The Browns are coming off of an outright destruction at the hands of the Cincinnati Bengals. The Jets bring back a familiar jaw line in Josh McCown, boast very little in the way of names casual NFL fans would recognize, and are coming off of back-to-back wins against the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars. Be this as it is, Vegas has this game as a “pick” in most cases, apparently attributing the confines of FirstEnergy Stadium as some form of an advantage.
In seven words or less, please explain how surprised you are to see the New York Jets two games better than the Browns after four weeks.
Gerberry: Didn’t expect it, but not surprised.
Gilbert: Nothing surprises me with the Browns.
Josh: Started from bottom… and we’re still here.
Bode: Bottoming out means up is only option.
Scott: Parity exists everywhere but Cleveland.
Dave: Nothing surprises me anymore.
Cleveland Browns offense versus Jets defense
The Browns struggle running the ball and the Jets struggle stopping the run. Which gives this week?
Gerberry: It all comes down to whether or not Hue decides to give someone else the offensive headset. He has shown no commitment to the run game, even with a rookie quarterback and wide receivers with hands that appear to have seen Medusa.
Gilbert: Sadly, I think the Jets will be fine against our run game because Hue Jackson has yet to show that he will consistently utilize it. The Browns should be able to take advantage of the Jets run defense, but I just can’t be confident given Jackson’s track record so far with the Browns.
Josh: If Isaiah Crowell is running the ball, the Jets will be just fine; if Hue calls a bunch of plays for Duke, that could give the Jets defense some trouble. Hopefully the Browns will do the latter.
Bode: Just run the ball. Please, just run the ball. Give Johnson carries or Crowell carries. Heck, give Daye carries or let Peppers run some wildcat. Just please run the ball.
Yes, the Jets stopped the Dolphins’ running game. But, the overall indication is that their aggressive defensive game plans can be used against them.
Scott: Sadly, it will come down to game flow. Hue Jackson refuses to run the ball when his team is down. If the Jets strike first, you could envision a scenario where Hue chooses such notable weapons like Kenny Britt and Seth DeValve over his two proven running backs.
Dave: Making predictions about this team seems so silly. I don’t know who is going to show up.
At this point, should the Browns just start newly acquired Bryce Treggs? What would you do to try to goose the receiving corps?
Gerberry: If it means no Kenny Britt, I’m all in. Duke Johnson needs 25+ touches, whether they be carries or catches, and the tight ends have actually been producing. Changing the starters and benching those that are underproducing would be the way to go, but it might not be enough.
Gilbert: Duke Johnson should be a receiver whenever he is not used as a running back. I would look to use Kasen Williams more and continue to play Rashard Higgins. But, I would also like to see Bryce Treggs show what he has. What can we lose from playing him? Nothing.
Josh: Does starting him mean Kenny Britt is on the bench? Yes, do it, please.
Bode: Treggs is an under-rated guy even if he is a bit limited. He’s scrappy and will brutalize unsuspecting safeties and linebackers on crack back blocks. He also has good hands. So, even if Kizer has to spoon feed him his assignments, why not? It would at least send a statement.
Scott: The team has gone back-to-back weeks starting players who were not playing anywhere the week before. If Hue Jackson isn’t going to put Duke Johnson in the slot, he needs to do something.
Dave: Why not? Is he terrible? OK, try him.
Cleveland Browns defense versus Jets offense
It appears that Myles Garrett will finally make his NFL debut (along with Jamie Collins and Danny Shelton returning). How does he change the defense?
Gerberry: By providing any type of a pass rush, you will see a very different defensive look. Getting to the quarterback is something the defense has been unable to do (with the exception of Emmanuel Ogbah’s strip sack/recovery last week) and adding pressure will be able to knock the quarterback off his rhythm. That will allow our corners and safeties to look better in the long run.
Gilbert: Drastically. The Browns should now have a consistent pass rush with Garrett. He will garner a lot of the blocking interest from the Jets, so it should open up some opportunities for other guys like Emmanuel Ogbah and Nate Orchard. Also I think Gregg Williams will lessen the amount of blitzes he calls, which in turn should help the poor pass defense. Garrett will be a huge factor.
Josh: A lot. Getting those three back is huge. Garrett and Shelton will hopefully put plenty of pressure on the quarterback and opponents’ backfield while Collins will help be the quarterback of the defense. Will be interested to see how the defense plays when they are fully healthy.
Bode: The only team as horrific at getting to the opposing quarterback is the New England Patriots, who happen to have the worst passing defense in the NFL. The needed focus on Garrett can make everyone else better at pass rushing. And, he does so while still being a cornerstone guy against the run. It’s a potentially defense-changing addition.
Scott: If anything, it makes the defense watchable. These last few weeks, I’ve found myself in the “how are they going to F this up” point of reference. Now I can just focus on Garrett and watch the kid go to work.
Dave: I hope a lot… as blitz happy as Gregg Williams is, it would be nice to see some sacks of the QB every now and again.
What do the Browns need to focus on stopping/limiting on the Jets offense?
Gerberry: Since they lack any big play threats, there is absolutely no reason for the Browns defensive coordinator to keep Jabrill Peppers 30 yards off the line. He should be playing up near the line to limit the short game Josh McCown will inevitably try to run.
Gilbert: The Jets run game. Josh McCown is Josh McCown. He will do what he does. He will make some plays, but also give opportunities to the Browns defense to get a turnover. The Jets offense is centered on their run game. Bilal Powell should be the Browns defense’s main focus.
Josh: Josh McCown. If they allow him to throw for over 275 yards, that won’t be a good news for the outcome of the game. With the entire defense back, I expect that the group has the best game they have had all season.
Bode: Josh McCown is OK when he gets to sit in a clean pocket but he makes stupid mistakes when he’s forced to move around. It’d be nice to turn Peppers loose on him in addition to Garrett to really amp up the intensity.
Scott: Stay home. Take away short passes, and — for the love of God — properly defend the screen.
Dave: Hopefully they can stop McCown…I can’t believe I just typed that.
Cleveland Browns outlook
Are you prepared to live in a world where Josh McCown beats the Browns?
Gerberry: We lived through 2016 and most of 2017 thus far…
Gilbert: God help us all if that happens. In Garrett I trust.
Josh: Would be awfully funny and would explain the Browns season so far in a nutshell.
Bode: I am not. I refuse to believe the McCown-led Jets can be above .500 after five weeks. Somehow, someway, the Browns need to get their first win.
Scott: One of these teams is tanking. The other one is the winless Cleveland Browns.
Dave: Nothing about this team could ever surprise me to be honest. Go Browns!