Aug 20, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) throws a pass during the fourth quarter of a preseason game against the Buffalo Bills at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
This upcoming Sunday, the Cleveland Browns roll into MetLife Stadium to face the New York Jets as they kick off their regular season schedule. As we all know, the Jets have gone through major changes this off season. The team has an entirely different coaching staff, a new general manager and a slew of new faces making up an improved roster.
This week the coaching staff is hard at work getting this football team ready to take on the Browns. The game is the regular season coaching debut for Todd Bowles for the Jets, and you know he’d like to get the victory to kick things off right. Chan Gailey’s new offense will debut as well as fans are eager to see points being put up on the board.
Rest assured Bowles and Gailey will have game a plan in place for the Browns, and their team will be well prepared come Sunday. So what do the Browns bring to town? They’ve had a busy off season as well, so let’s take a look at the Browns and get to know a little about the Week 1 opponent.
Aug 29, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Josh McCown (13) throws the ball against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Offensively the Browns are in much the same boat as the Jets. The question concerning both teams is their quarterback situation. The Browns have some weapons to utilize offensively, but quarterback remains the biggest question. Let’s take a look at the Browns’ offense.
Quarterback Josh McCown was brought in this off season to shore up the position supposedly, or was it a move to back up Johnny Manziel? Just kidding. McCown is a 36 year old veteran who went 1-10 as the starter of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. McCown is not without talent however.
The fans in Cleveland hope he can return to his 2013 form when he filled in for inured Jay Cutler with the Chicago Bears. That season, McCown threw for 13 TD’s vs a single interception and a 109.o quarterback rating. McCown has looked fairly good in camp for the inured Manziel, and looks to be the starter this weekend.
Manziel had a terrible year last year in his rookie campaign. Thrown to the wolves too soon, Manziel was under fire from Browns fans last season. His poor play, coupled with his reported alcohol problems resulted in Browns fans clamoring for his dismissal. Fast forward to 2015, and Manziel looks like a new man.
He’s looked excellent over the summer by many reports, showing a competency in the offensive schemes, reading defenses well and most importantly, he’s been accurate and is protecting the football far better. He’s recovering from tendinitis in his elbow and likely will sit for the game against the Jets. It is unclear when Manziel returns to the starting role for the Browns, but I think its pretty safe to say he’ll get his shot sooner rather then later.
Moving on to the wide receiver position, the Browns have some weapons to account for. The teams starting group consists of Andrew Hawkins, Taylor Gabriel, and Marlon Moore. Further down the depth chart, the Browns bring Travis Benjamin, Brian Hartline, Dwayne Bowe, and Terrelle Pryor. This group has deep threat possibilities, and the Browns will take their shots, but if McCown is under center, the Jets are more likely to see the short passing game this week.
Tight end promises to be another weapon the Browns will rely on to get this offense going. The Browns are currently carrying four tight ends on the roster including Gary Barnidge, Jim Dray, Rob Housler, and E.J. Bibbs. Barnidge is listed as their starter but in this hybrid west coast offense, the Browns will mix them up in an attempt to create mismatches against the Jets’ linebackers. Keep an eye on Housler, the Browns like to run him deep down the seam and he’s displayed a good set of hands down field.
The offensive line was a bit lackluster last year for the Browns due to injury, but this season the Browns are healthy and have shored up some holes along the line. The Browns drafted Cameron Erving in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft to bolster the line and he has reportedly having an impact already this year. The offensive line of Joe Thomas, Joel Bitonio, Alex Mack, John Greco and Mitchell Schwartz promises to open holes and protect the quarterback very well this season. The Browns have a stout line and defenses will need to work hard to get to their quarterback.
Running back is another question facing the Browns this summer. The Browns’ offense is built to run its fair share, but currently the Browns only possess two backs on their roster. Isaiah Crowell was listed as the starter for Week 1 as Duke Johnson is still inured. The Browns might add another back before game time rolls around, but currently the Browns only have Crowell to challenge the Jets’ defense. Malcolm Johnson will be the Browns starter at fullback against the Jets.
That rounds out the offense of the Browns. In overview, the Browns will have strength along the offensive line as it is a good group with talent to spare. Wide receiver is represented well for the Browns as they have a good mix of receiver types and have added deep threat capability that truly wasn’t there last season.
The tight end position is also a tool the Browns will look to utilize, they have the potential to use them in the short game and their deep ball part of their game as well. While not a powerhouse offensively by any means, they should fair much better than last season, and will make for a good initial test of the Jets’ defense.
Aug 20, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns defensive tackle Danny Shelton (71) at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Jets fans all know Mike Pettine well from his time with the Jets under former head coach Rex Ryan. Jet fans in general have few fond memories of him, but they know the type of defense he brings with him. The Browns bolstered their defense from last season, so let’s take a look.
Up front the Browns sought to strengthen the run game with the addition of first round pick nose tackle Danny Shelton. Shelton has come as advertised and has locked down the nose position for the Browns. Shelton is flanked upfront by defensive ends Randy Starks and Desmond Bryant.
Backed up by John Hughes, Jamie Meder, and Armonty Bryant, the Browns are strong upfront with enough depth to go around. The front might be the strength of this defense, but there is little let down behind them either.
At linebacker, the Browns are scheduled to start outside linebackers Paul Kruger, Scott Solomon, and linebackers Karlos Dansby and Christian Kirksey. They make up a good linebacker corps both in pass rush and in coverage. The Browns also offer up some good depth and Pettine, much Rex Ryan, likes to use his depth to mix things up, create confusion and give his starters a breather.
Behind the starters, the Browns offer up Nate Orchard, Tank Carder, Craig Robertson and Barkevious Mingo. Expect this group along with the defensive front to test the Jets’ offensive line. They will definitely bring the pressure.
The defensive secondary, while not as talented as the Jets, has a lot to offer. The starting group consists of Tramon Williams and Joe Haden at cornerback, while Tashaun Gipson and Donte Whitner fill the safety spots. Behind them and in the mix are K’Waun Williams, Justin Gilbert at cornerback and Jordan Poyer, Ibraheim Campbell at safety.
Defensively the Browns are going to be tough this season. If they can stay healthy up front and Shelton can plug the holes in against the run, this defense is going to keep them in the close ones, and maybe even win them one or two this season.
Next: Final Thoughts
Aug 29, 2015; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick (14) throws a pass during the first half of their game against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets and Browns teams are in similar situations going into this game. Both have promising defenses that should be tough against both the pass and the run games. They both have viable weapons on offense and both have questions at the moment at quarterback.
At this early juncture it looks like it will be a battle of veterans, Ryan Fitzpatrick vs McCown. Both of these offensive lines will be tested this week, both Pettine and Bowles like to bring pressure, and neither is afraid to mix it up. Expect some jail house blitz packages in this one.
In the end I think this game is a great way to start the season for the Jets. The Browns will make for a tough game, but I have to believe the Jets own the edge in this contest. Offensively they are better at the quarterback position and clearly better at running back. It promises to be a very interesting game defensively, if either defense can create a turnover, it might prove huge in determining the outcome.
In my opinion, the final score will be a close one with the Jets on top 14-10. That’s the Browns that the Jets await this upcoming weekend.. Have some thoughts on the Browns vs Jets game? We here at The Jet Press want to know what you’re thinking so please leave us a comment below and Let’s Talk Jet Football!!