New York Jets vs. Cleveland Browns: 3 keys to victory for Gang Green
By Ryan Patti
The New York Jets are .500 through the first four weeks. Can they win their third-straight to get to 3-2 against the Cleveland Browns?
Week 5 is here which means the New York Jets are back on the road. They’ll visit FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday to take on the Cleveland Browns in another AFC battle. The last time these two met, Gang Green scraped out a 31-28 victory in ‘The Land.’ They have a chance to do the same as they’re riding high at 2-2 while the Browns sit at 0-4.
Last week, they took down the Jacksonville Jaguars 23-20 in overtime. Bilal Powell and Elijah McGuire ripped long touchdown runs before a fourth-quarter collapse. Two unfortunate turnovers gift-wrapped the Jaguars 10 points and tied the game at 20. The Jets narrowly avoided one of their worst meltdown losses in recent memory.
Cleveland, on the other hand, was drubbed at home by the Cincinnati Bengals 31-7. Andy Dalton and company rose from the dead to rack up four touchdowns through the air. The Browns’ offense totaled just 215 yards with a mere 45 on the ground. They’ll need to be much better against Todd Bowles‘ group.
The Browns have one win in their last 23 games, so the Jets have to be viewed as the favorites in this matchup. New York isn’t a playoff contender by any means, but they aren’t the bottom-dweller we originally thought. Here are their three keys vs. Cleveland.
Next: 3. Overwhelm Shon Coleman
3. Overwhelm Shon Coleman
The Browns’ offensive line accounts for 26.96 percent of their 2017 full roster cap, per Spotrac. We can safely say general manager Sashi Brown is getting his money’s worth. Joe Thomas, Joel Bitonio, J.C. Tretter and Kevin Zeitler are producing like four of the best linemen in the league. Shon Coleman is performing at a high rate as well, although he’s the clear weak link on his island at right tackle.
The 25-year-old earned a 69.9 overall grade on Pro Football Focus in his rookie campaign and his sophomore season is off to a solid start with a 74.1. His pass blocking grade (70.1), however, is the worst of the unit. A 70.1 isn’t necessarily a bad grade, but attacking Coleman is your best shot at pressuring DeShone Kizer. You won’t beat Thomas or the interior on a blitz.
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What Bowles can do to make this happen is continue sending Buster Skrine or Jamal Adams off that right side. Skrine has proven to be a weapon as a blitzer out of the slot. He made a living off it in 2015 and seems to have gotten back in that rhythm this year. Adams has the same capability as he has already recorded 24 pass rush snaps, per PFF. Coleman would have a hard time sealing the edge against either of them.
Next: 2. Feed Austin Seferian-Jenkins
2. Feed Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Cleveland has struggled mightily in covering the tight end. They rank 32nd in receptions allowed and 30th in yards allowed. In Week 1, Jesse James had six catches for 41 yards and two touchdowns. In Week 2, Benjamin Watson had eight catches for 91 yards. In Week 4, Tyler Kroft had six catches for 61 yards and two touchdowns. Jack Doyle was the lone tight end they held in check (two catches, 16 yards).
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Offensive coordinator John Morton would be hard pressed not to give Austin Seferian-Jenkins a beefy workload.
Since coming off his two-game suspension, the Washington product has made an impact as both a receiver and blocker. He has nine catches for 77 yards and a 79.5 run blocking grade on PFF. Those stats come under a snap count of 102.
Morton at times will need extra help on the line to keep Josh McCown clean. That’s why Eric Tomlinson is on the roster. He can handle the pass blocking duties like he has through the first four weeks and allow Seferian-Jenkins to work as a receiver. The offense can’t afford to have ASJ pass blocking. The Browns don’t have an answer for him.
Next: 1. Take care of the football
1. Take care of the football
Mistake-free football is New York’s biggest key to victory. They nearly costed themselves a win last week with their two fourth-quarter turnovers. The backward swing pass was a textbook brain-fart. Powell has to have his head turned because he’s McCown’s first read if the Jaguars bring the heat. The A.J. Bouye interception was unlucky as Powell simply lost his footing.
You won’t make mistakes on the road and come out on top, even against a team like Cleveland. The Browns are 28th in the league in points per game. Turning the ball over gives them opportunities they don’t normally get. Safe routes and a heavy dose of Seferian-Jenkins will keep the Jets’ offense on the field.
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Oh and let’s not forget first overall pick Myles Garrett will make his debut. He’s fresh off his high-ankle sprain, but head coach Hue Jackson will have him on a snap limit. Garrett would love nothing more than a strip sack to kick off his NFL career, so Kelvin Beachum will be under the spotlight on McCown’s blindside. A whiffed block or slow first step could be detrimental.