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Top 5 exploitable weaknesses of the Browns

By Michael Pallas
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 04: Running back Duke Johnson Jr. #29 of the Cleveland Browns catches a touchdown pass in front of Donald Butler #56 of the San Diego Chargers in the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on October 4, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - OCTOBER 04: Running back Duke Johnson Jr. #29 of the Cleveland Browns catches a touchdown pass in front of Donald Butler #56 of the San Diego Chargers in the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on October 4, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) /
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SAN DIEGO, CA – OCTOBER 04: Running back Duke Johnson Jr. #29 of the Cleveland Browns catches a touchdown pass in front of Donald Butler #56 of the San Diego Chargers in the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on October 4, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA – OCTOBER 04: Running back Duke Johnson Jr. #29 of the Cleveland Browns catches a touchdown pass in front of Donald Butler #56 of the San Diego Chargers in the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium on October 4, 2015 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images) /

The New York Jets head to Cleveland to take on the Browns in a Week 5 matchup that could be a blowout.

Despite coming into the season with what many considered a roster with very little talent, the New York Jets have reeled off two consecutive wins against teams perceived to be better than them. Now they come into a game where the perception is they should win going away.

Many experts thought the Jets were a long way away from a playoff push, and the same experts thought, that, if the Browns didn’t make the playoffs this year, they’d be close. The Browns have regressed from last season and may be further away from a playoff run than the experts expect.

On the other hand, the Jets are making incremental steps every week, and that includes defeating a Jacksonville Jaguars team that should’ve beaten them. They took their shots, and repeatedly, from the Jaguars, and kept getting back up, until they gave their final knockout blow in overtime, thanks to, of all people, punter Lachlan Edwards.

The Browns are weak in most aspects of the game, and it appears their talent has regressed to the mean. The Jets have the talent on both sides of the ball to exploit this poor team, and here are their top flaws to take advantage of.

Next: 5. The receivers

CLEVELAND, OH – OCTOBER 01: Duke Johnson #29 of the Cleveland Browns attempts to move the ball down the field in the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller /Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH – OCTOBER 01: Duke Johnson #29 of the Cleveland Browns attempts to move the ball down the field in the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller /Getty Images) /

5. The receivers

The leading receiver for the Cleveland Browns in 2017 is running back Duke Johnson Jr. He has 20 catches for 207 yards, and that’s a problem.

Another problem is that the Browns don’t have a single wide receiver with a catch rate of higher than 50 percent. That’s a huge advantage for the Jets because they can be physical and allow their defensive linemen to get to DeShone Kizer.

There’s also another glaring stat. The longest reception by any Browns player this season is 49 yards (which ranks 21st in the NFL), and when you couple that with the fact they only have four receiving touchdowns (tied for 26th in the NFL), it’s a good sign for the secondary of the Jets.

Additionally, of their 947 total receiving yards, 27 are yards after catch, which means even when they catch the ball, they’re not doing anything with it. So, all around, it should be a good day for this secondary.

Next: 4. The secondary

4. The secondary

When the season began, this secondary was ranked 27th in the NFL by Pro Football Focus, and it appears that they’re playing much worse than their ranking would suggest. According to Football Outsiders, their Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) is ranked in the bottom half of the league against their opponents’ number one wide receiver, wide receivers other than the number one and two receivers, tight ends and running backs.

The total pass defense stats actually bear that out. Their pass defense has gotten worse every week as the season has progressed.

Their totals are not good to look at either. They’ve allowed 73.4 completion percentage (second-worst in the NFL), 1,025 yards (eighth-worst), nine touchdowns (third-worst) and a passer rating of 115.2 (second-worst).

Quarterback Josh McCown can have a field day with this secondary. He’s shown a tendency to not trust his receivers early on, but this is the game to let it rip and attack downfield.

Next: 3. The coaches

CLEVELAND, OH – OCTOBER 01: Head coach Hue Jackson of the Cleveland Browns is seen during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller /Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH – OCTOBER 01: Head coach Hue Jackson of the Cleveland Browns is seen during the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller /Getty Images) /

3. The coaches

When the season began, ESPN did a piece on coaches on the hot seat. Hue Jackson was placed on a cold seat (2 out of 5), and they should rethink that today.

Since the first half of the Week 2 matchup with the Oakland Raiders, the Jets coaches have pushed all the right buttons to get this team on track. Hue Jackson and his staff can either not push the right buttons, or their team is just not being given the right adjustments to succeed.

No matter what the case is with the Browns, the right adjustments aren’t being made and leading to huge losses. The Jets have a huge coaching edge and should take advantage of it.

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The coaches may be saddled with bad talent, but they’re not even making the proper adjustments to be competitive in their games. It’s a huge mismatch in favor of the Jets.

Next: 2. The offensive line

2. The offensive line

Coming into the season, this was one of the bright spots of the team, as Pro Football Focus ranked this offensive line as the second-best offensive line in the NFL. Then the Browns actually played four games, and they proved how wrong PFF was.

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According to the analytics site Football Outsiders, they’re far from the second-best offensive line in the league. Football Outsiders ranks them as the 10th worst offensive line in the league.

This offensive line has allowed rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer to be sacked 11 times this season. They have allowed 13 total sacks between the two quarterbacks, and that’s tied for seventh-most in the NFL.

They have also led the running game to be tied for ninth-worst in the NFL with 3.6 yards per carry. This offensive line is abysmal, and the front seven should have a field day with them.

Next: 1. The quarterback

CLEVELAND, OH – OCTOBER 01: DeShone Kizer #7 of the Cleveland Browns throws a pass in the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller /Getty Images)
CLEVELAND, OH – OCTOBER 01: DeShone Kizer #7 of the Cleveland Browns throws a pass in the first half against the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium on October 1, 2017 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller /Getty Images) /

1. The quarterback

Teams usually try to mask the deficiencies of young developing quarterbacks that they choose to throw into the fire immediately. They usually try to do things to help that young quarterback succeed.

The problem is when a quarterback with the skill set of Kizer has a precipitous drop in completion percentage like he did at Notre Dame from Year 1 to Year 2, it should be a red flag. The Browns ignored that red flag, and they’re paying for it in the short-term.

Kizer has made quite a few mistakes early on in his career. He’s prone to the turnover and doesn’t make up for it very well with touchdowns.

Must Read: Jets vs. Browns: Top 5 players to watch in Week 5

In his first four games, he has five touchdowns (three passing and one rushing) and nine turnovers (eight interceptions and one lost fumble). The Jets need to prey on the young quarterback and take advantage of what will likely be a game of mistakes for Kizer by converting turnovers into points.

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