New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns: Top 5 players to watch in Week 5
By Michael Pallas
Week 5 is upon us and the New York Jets are heading to FirstEnergy Stadium to take on the Cleveland Browns. Here are the top five players to keep an eye on.
The New York Jets are coming off a huge thrilling win over the Jacksonville Jaguars in overtime, and the Cleveland Browns are coming off a demoralizing 31-7 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. The Jets are currently considered underdogs, and they should take that as an insult and use it as motivation against one of the worst teams in the NFL.
The Jets are better than the Browns across the board. Whether it’s the coaches or the players on the field, this game was circled by many as the lock win of the season for the Jets. The only shining light on the Browns is their rush defense. They’re ranked in the top 10 in the NFL, and it’s a much different matchup than the Jacksonville Jaguars posed to the Jets in Week 4.
The Browns rank in the bottom half of the league in scoring offense, pass yards, rush yards and total offense. On defense, they’re not much better ranking in the bottom half of the league in all categories except for rush yards allowed per game.
For the first time this season, the offense has its time to shine. The defense will have a field day with this offense. There’s not much talent on the Browns, but the Jets will have to do some good things to win.
The Browns are still an NFL team. They cannot take the Browns lightly, otherwise, they will walk out of Cleveland defeated. The Jets have been riding the momentum of the second half play in Oakland to two straight victories. The Jets can come away with their 44th regular season winning streak of three or more games with a victory.
In order for the outcome to be that result, five players are going to have to step up their games. Here they are.
Next: 5. Offensive lineman vs. top run defense
5. Guard Brian Winters
In 2016, the Browns allowed the second-most yards and yards per carry in the NFL. So when they had an opportunity to draft a player the caliber of former Michigan safety/linebacker Jabrill Peppers, they took it.
Winters is one of the best linemen on the Jets in 2017, and he’s going to have to keep an eye on Peppers if the Jets want their running game to perform close to what it did against the Jaguars. The addition of Peppers has helped this defense go from allowing 4.6 yards per carry to a measly 3.0 yards per carry.
Winters is going to have to climb to the second level and take on Peppers if the Jets want to find success in their running game. Peppers is a safety who plays with the mentality of a linebacker.
Defensive end Myles Garrett is set to make his season debut Sunday, Winters may also have to help Brent Qvale protect the quarterback if the Browns decide to line up Garrett on the offense’s right side. Winters will have to have a good game both pass blocking and run blocking for the Jets against the Browns.
Next: 4. Young wideout looking for a breakout game
4. Wide Receiver Robby Anderson
Anderson has had 24 targets this season with 12 total caches on the year, but he did have a great game against the Miami Dolphins, and he will have to repeat that against the Browns on Sunday. This is the game for him to break out because the Browns have allowed the eighth-most receiving yards in the NFL in 2017.
Anderson could do something he’s never done in his brief 20 game NFL career. The Browns came into the season with the 28th ranked secondary in the NFL according to Pro Football Focus, against this secondary he could have his first 100-yard game of his career.
Additionally, Anderson has the chance to score some touchdowns. Consequently, he’s never had a game with multiple touchdowns either, and this could be that special breakout game for Anderson.
The Jets have a chance to take advantage of the poor Browns secondary, and they use Anderson‘s speed and quickness advantage. Attack the secondary early and often, and use the pass to set up the run.
Next: 3. Defensive rookie who will shine
3. Safety Jamal Adams
Normally, Adams would be much higher on the list than this, but frankly, this week is about the ability of the offense to succeed, rather than defensive success. I am not sure if what I am about to say is more about the skills of Adams or an indictment of the ability of the wide receivers in Cleveland, but, Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers could have Adams cover the number one receiver on the Browns on an island, and they’d be fine.
The Jets drafted Adams to specifically shine in a game like this one. This is the type of game that will highlight the strengths of Adams, rather than show his flaws.
Adams was high on many draft boards for two main reasons, because he can play the run well (the Browns are 27th in rush yards per game in the NFL), and he can cover tight ends. The Browns tight ends have actually combined for 20 catches, 228 yards, and two touchdowns in 2017.
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The Jets will need Adams in the red zone, especially against fellow 2017 first round NFL Draftee, David Njoku, who has both tight end touchdowns for the Browns this season. He’s also going to be needed to stop one of the worst run games in the league.
Next: 2. Third game's a charm
2. Tight End Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Since returning to action following the two-game suspension for his DUI arrest, Seferian-Jenkins hasn’t been a no-show, but from a statistical standpoint, he’s been ok. This matchup against the Browns is a perfect time for Seferian-Jenkins to break out statistically.
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The Browns haven’t done well against tight ends so far in 2017. They’ve allowed a catch rate of 80.56 percent (29 catches on 36 targets) for tight ends, 266 yards, and four touchdowns.
Those average out to 7 catches on nine targets, 67 yards, and one touchdown. This is the game for Seferian-Jenkins to break out.
It’s perfectly set up for this offense to roll into Cleveland and have him with one of his best performances of the season. He has the ability to do so, and the Jets will need him for them to roll over Cleveland.
Next: 1. The Bridge
1. Quarterback Josh McCown
No, that’s not a typo! Josh McCown is the number one player to watch for the Jets in Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns have one of the worst passing defenses in the NFL, and each week the numbers keep getting worse. Last week was the best performance of any of the quarterbacks they’ve faced this season.
Andy Dalton went 25/30 (83.3 percent) for 28 yards, and four touchdowns. On the season, opposing quarterbacks have combined to complete 73.4 percent of their passes for 1,025 yards, nine touchdowns only two interceptions, and passer rating of 115.2.
Must Read: Top 5 insights after the Jets prey on the Jaguars
If the coaches and McCown want the receivers to be able to grow, and this game is the perfect game for their growth, McCown shouldn’t dink and dunk his way to victory. He’s going to have to take the shots that will inevitably be there against this horrid secondary.