Browns: 3 keys to a victory over the New York Jets
By Thomas Moore
The Cleveland Browns continue to look for a win. Here are three things they must do against the New York Jets if they hope to make that a reality.
Things have gotten very ugly very quickly for the Cleveland Browns.
Four weeks into the season and the Browns are one of four winless teams in the NFL. That is part of a streak that has seen the team go 1-19 under head coach Hue Jackson, part of a larger run of ineptitude where the Browns have won just five of their last 43 games.
The Browns looked to be in a prime position the last two weeks to pick up a win, but the Indianapolis Colts and Cincinnati Bengals had other plans, most notably not wanting to be a team that loses to the Browns.
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Today brings the New York Jets to town, who have beaten the Browns in four consecutive match ups. The Jets entered the season as this year’s version of the 2016 Browns – a team that was intentionally trying to lose, but one that would not be all that upset if they finished the season with the top overall selection in the draft secured.
The Jets have foiled the plan, however, as they come into today’s game at 2-2. Sure, the wins have come against the Miami Dolphins and Jacksonville Jaguars, but two wins in four tries is more than the Browns have pulled off in their last 20.
This is a winnable game for the Browns despite all that as the Jets are just as bad off as the Browns. So here are three things the Browns must do today to give themselves a chance at a victory.
Run the ball and then run it some more
The Jets come into today’s game as one of the league’s worst rush defenses. They are ranked at No. 29 in yards allowed per game (143.8), at No. 27 in yards per carry (4.7) and have given up the most runs of 20 or more yards (eight).
The Browns counter with an offense that should be run heavy, but has rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer averaging 35.5 pass attempts per game.
We may not know everything, but we do know that having Kizer pass 35 or more times a game is not a recipe for a successful season.
If there was ever a day for Jackson to dial up a heavy ground attack, today would be it.
Pressure quarterback Josh McCown
If there is one thing that Browns fans learned during Josh McCown’s two years in town, it is that he loves to hold onto the ball almost as long as Kizer.
McCown was sacked 43 times in 13 games with the Browns and has already been sacked 12 times this season.
The Browns have not had much success so far this season with pressuring quarterbacks, but defensive end Myles Garrett is expected to make his debut today, which is bad news for McCown.
Opposite Garrett, defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah – who’s performance against the Bengals was overshadowed by the final score – could be in line for a day of abusing Jets offensive tackle Brent Qvale, as Pro Football Focus points out:
"Ogbah has been the Browns’ best edge rusher this year, leading them in total pressures with eight, and hurries with six, which is tied for 26th out of 57 4-3 edge rushers this season. Qvale has struggled thus far in 2017, as his pass-blocking efficiency rating of 91.1 is 75th out of all 93 offensive tackles in the NFL. Last week against the Jaguars he allowed three hurries and surrendered a sack in 39 pass-blocking snaps. His overall grade of 57.6 currently puts him tied for 40th out of 68 qualified offensive tackles."
If the Browns can keep consistent pressure on McCown he will make a mistake. With any luck, the offense can convert those mistakes into some much-needed points.
Enough with the penalties, already
This could be a weekly feature as the Browns continue to be their own worse enemy.
After opening the season with a tidy four penalties, the Browns have committed 25 total penalties in the past three games, often resulting in third-and-longs that the offense has no hope of converting.
Next: Pressure to win first game weighing on the Browns
Even in the best of circumstances this team struggles. Putting itself at a further disadvantage by committing penalties simply has to stop.