The (0-7) Cleveland Browns host the (2-5) New York Jets on this historical weekend. First, it will mark the first time the Cavaliers, Browns, and Indians all play on the same weekend. Second, the Browns will be celebrating the 1986 Browns team. The Jets won last week against the Ravens 24-16 in a game where Geno Smith started and tore his ACL. Which means the Jets will be starting Ryan Fitzpatrick once again. The Browns lost to the Bengals 31-17 and they lost another quarterback...Cody Kessler suffered a concussion and Kevin Hogan made his NFL debut. But this week it looks like Josh McCown will return from his non-throwing shoulder injury.
The Browns game plan this week should be interesting. The Browns will need to keep running the ball. The Jets are ranked second in rush defense, only giving up 75 yards per game. But with McCown starting the Browns can not give up on running the ball, even if the Browns are struggling. Isaiah Crowell is prone to break off a big run and it keeps the defensive line at bay. Also it will be interesting if Hue Jackson spells Kevin Hogan at times to run the read option and throw a few passes.
McCown and the passing game has a chance to be successful, but only if McCown can get the ball out quickly. Gary Barnidge and Duke Johnson should get a ton of targets because McCown needs to get the ball out and not take many hits. Also the quick passes will help Terrelle Pryor get the ball in space and down field just to keep the defense honest.
The most important key for this week is to set up the pass with a consistent running game. They can't expect Josh McCown to win a game for them...heck they can't expect McCown to finish the game let alone win it. But running the ball will keep the our defense off the field and it will open up the passing game in certain spots.
On Defense the most important key is to stop the run and force Fitzpatrick to beat them. Fitzpatrick's confidence could be a bit low considering he did not "earn" the starting job back. This has the making of the Miami Dolphins game from earlier this year. The Browns have an unknown at quarterback and will have to rely on the running game. And the Defense will have to force the quarterback into mistake and hope the offense takes advantage of the short field.
Gary Barnidge: Barnidge is McCown's favorite target so again this choice is obvious. Barnidge is a threat in all levels of the field, but I expect him to get a ton of targets but for minimal yards. And that's okay as long as McCown doesn't take unnecessary hits.
Corner Back matching up with Marshall: As of right now, who is starting at cornerback is an unknown. Joe Haden is still nursing an injury and Jamar Taylor was just put on the injury report with a hurt groin. So...who is matched up with B. Marshall is my guy to watch, because Marshall is the top target for the Jets.
Joe Thomas: Rumors are going around saying Joe Thomas is on the trading block even though Hue Jackson said the Browns are not trading him. But this could be Joe Thomas' last game in a Browns uniform since the trading deadline is this upcoming week. But on the field he needs to anchor the pass protection to keep McCown upright and protect his blind side from taking any direct hits on his non-throwing shoulder.
Betting line: Jets -3
Prediction: Jets 31-21
The Browns will fall to (0-8)...Josh McCown will get hurt...and next week Kevin Hogan will become the 27th different starting QB since 1999. Its just one of those years for the Browns as they "Strive for Imperfection". Could they win this week? Sure but with McCown not 100%, Fitzpatrick playing "pissed off" the odds aren't in their favor. But hey "Any given Sunday...Right?" Go Tribe Go Cavs!!