Battle for the bottom of the barrel?
The New York Jets fly to Cleveland on Sunday to take on the Browns, who have yet to chalk up a tally in the win column this season.
The Jets, who are riding a two game win-streak after beating both Miami and Jacksonville, look to continue their upward trend against one of the league’s worst teams, at least being through a quarter of the season.
With that being said, a young and inexperienced Jets squad shouldn’t call this matchup a win quite yet. The Browns will be looking to point their so far disappointing season in the right direction, and the Jets could present a solid opportunity for them to get that ball rolling, especially if the Green & White decide to slow up on what is perceived to be a weak Cleveland team.
That is what will make this Sunday’s tilt so intriguing. It will be a statement game for both teams. So what should we expect?
While a lot of talk amongst Jets nation revolves around dodging the tanking rumors and building experience for the young players off of good team wins, the Browns bring along their own storylines. I recently sat down with cover32 Browns Managing Editor Conor Agnew to discuss how many of these will clash come Sunday:
Q: At this point in his career, what does Joe Thomas still offer? What do the Jets need to expect from him?
A: Even though he’s getting up there in years, Joe Thomas is consistently rated as one of the top tackles in the league by PFF. It’s not just that though, because Thomas has always meant more to Cleveland. He’s been the biggest bright spot on and off the field year in and year out, and for on the field play and off the field loyalty the Browns should be thankful for Joe Thomas.
As for the Jets, they’re going to have a hard time beating his pass blocking if they only scheme one defender against him. Kizer does hold onto the ball much too long, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets got 5+ sacks in this game—just not through Thomas.
Joe Thomas is still dominating 💪 pic.twitter.com/2q594QaMTt
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) October 5, 2017
Q: The Browns offense remains to be somewhat of a struggle. With Isaiah Crowell failing to produce, and Duke Johnson Jr. seeing more action in the passing game, what do the Browns need to do to successfully utilize their valuable weapons?
A: It’s interesting that you use the term “weapons,” because this Browns offense has been horrendous, especially last week against the Bengals. With regards to the running backs, at this point Crowell is like the big gun that the Browns wave around to distract from the tiny, loaded gun they have taped to their bloody back in Duke Johnson (the Jets being Hans Gruber in this metaphor I guess). Though Crowell breaking out would help the Browns offense a ton, Duke Johnson has been the more dynamic player all season. With how terrible the Cleveland receiving corp is, those two are the closest thing the Browns have to weapons.
Q: Kizer has been up and down so far this season. Should the Browns plan to stick it out with him? If so, how long before they need to readdress the position?
A: I wasn’t a fan of Kizer when the Browns drafted him, but since he’s come to Cleveland he’s grown on me. He’s shown some good things: scrambling ability, an amazing arm, toughness and a work ethic that’s a far cry from the utter nonsense of Johnny Manziel. Whether or not he turns into a franchise quarterback remains to be seen; he’s had moments throughout the season that are very impressive, but also moments where he takes an absurd sack or just puts the ball in the wrong place that make you question whether he is actually the guy.
To be fair to Kizer, he’s been thrown to the wolves and it shows. He needs to quicken his release and improve his decision making if he wants to make it in this league, but both of those are typical rookie problems and nothing to get too worried about. The Browns should definitely stand by him for the season, but if they’re sitting in the first round staring at a QB they like, draft him too. There are far worse problems to have than a competition between two talented, young, quarterbacks.
— Conor Agnew (@theconoragnew) October 4, 2017
Q: The Browns have a nice mix of young and veteran play at the defensive level. Who do you have being the Browns’ defensive key come Sunday against New York?
A: As of now Jamie Collins is still in concussion protocol, so I think the key to this Browns defense is going to come down to returning Danny Shelton to stuff the run up the middle and young linebacker Joe Schobert, who started the season with a bang but has since seen his play falter a little. I think the Browns secondary can keep up with the Jets receivers, so the key to stopping the New York offense is going to come down to stopping the running attack.
Andy Dalton and the Bengals destroy the Browns