Browns vs. Jets – Game #8 Preview
Well, for the first time in several weeks the Browns actually have a chance at winning a game on Sunday. Despite winning their last contest, the Jets come to town as an underwhelming bunch with quarterback issues. That being said, the Browns obviously have an bleak outlook at multiple positions on their roster. This game is likely to be a boring one…let’s have a look see.
Quarterback: I’m going to assume that Kevin Hogan will get a majority of snaps in this contest for the Browns (until he gets hurt). At that point, the Browns will have to yield to gimmicks and trick plays – their “traditional” quarterback position has not been spectacular at this point. I actually think that they can win this game without great play from this spot however.
Running Back: Despite being out gained by the backup quarterback, Isaiah Crowell did a solid job of gaining rushing yards. He will continue to get the lion’s share of carries this season, and depending on who is behind center – Crowell can get back to the level he was in the first few games. My weekly rant of getting Duke Johnson more involved continues; the reserve runner has been making the most of his opportunities. It would be nice to see him get an increased workload.
Wide Receiver: It’s extremely hard to evaluate a position group that is primarily based on the quarterback – especially when the team is on its sixth man under center. However, last game saw Andrew Hawkins, Terrelle Pryor, Rashard Higgins, and Ricardo Louis all get involved in the passing game. Pryor was not completely healthy, but he did his best to still make plays on the field. I want to see Higgins and Louis excel (while Corey Coleman is out), but the constant injuries to the quarterback makes it a little difficult for that to occur.
Tight End: Surprisingly, Gary Barnidge saw his most targets in quite some time last contest. The veteran did admirably, though his receptions did not produce a tremendous output (in terms of yardage). He can be a security blanket for a young quarterback, I would just prefer that guy under center be Cody Kessler and not Kevin Hogan. Another target outside of Barnidge would be nice, but the Browns can’t seem to find one.
Offensive Line: It appears that Cam Erving will miss more time going forward, thus John Greco will more than likely be the center for a bit. It will be interesting if Jonathan Cooper breaks through and finds an opportunity with this unit, or if Spencer Drango and Shon Coleman will continue to get the repetitions with the offensive line. It’s obvious that this part of the team is the reason why the quarterbacks are getting killed – hopefully the coaching staff can finally find a combination that can prevent a rush and a rash of injuries.
Defensive Line: As mentioned before, (against the Bengals) the run defense for the Browns was good in spurts but surrendered several long runs. I have faith in Danny Shelton, Jamie Meder, and Xavier Cooper, but they need to be more consistent in stuffing the run for the opposition. Matt Forte is not nearly as great as Jeremy Hill (at least at this point in his career), but nonetheless the Browns will have a large challenge on their hands. One would expect the Jets to rely heavily on their ground game – the home team must prepare and shut this unit down.
Outside Linebacker: While Emmanuel Ogbah has been getting better and making plays, Joe Schobert has regressed a bit as an outside linebacker. I understand he is a middle round draft pick rookie, but he has not been tremendously involved in the Browns’ defensive highlights. I would like to think that his position group can get to the signal caller on a bad team like the Jets – but the Browns have not proved that they can do that up to this point.
Inside Linebacker: I thought Chris Kirksey actually made some solid plays in last contest. It would be nice to see this continue, as the defense could use more consistency up the middle. Demario Davis ought to be active in the middle of the defense as well in this game. I’m still waiting on the big play to come from this unit, but that appears to be wishing for too much.
Safety: Tracy Howard is trying his best at the safety spot, but is playing just as well as his predecessors. The undrafted rookie has been invisible in coverage and when trying to stop the run. Not surprisingly, Derrick Kindred has not been any better either. The Jets feature one of the worst tight end situations in the NFL – but that is not any reason for Browns’ fans to breathe a sigh of relief. All I ask is that this unit does not get burned on multiple occasions.
Cornerback: I thought Briean Boddy-Calhoun was the best cornerback for the Browns last contest. While he has been ok, an undrafted rookie should not be leading a position group (especially this early in the campaign). Brandon Marshall is the key option for the opposing team – he could make the Browns pay, given an opportunity. However, I have faith that the Browns will bounce back from last week – as A.J. Green is not on their roster.
Special Teams: It appears that the special teams for Cleveland has somewhat settled down. They are not great, but also not the reason why they are losing ball games. I would really like to see the orange and brown do something to put the Jets in a bind – though recent history is not on their side.
Coaching: Hue Jackson continues to make play calls based on who he has available to play in contests. I haven’t found reason to second-guess the head coach, but there is a great deal of games remaining. I would like to see him put the offense in spots to beat the visiting team, but executing this is of the utmost importance.
Prediction (My Record: 7 – 0): I think the Browns can actually win this game, but until I see more I am not ready to pick them to succeed. The Jets come away with a 27 – 17 win at First Energy Stadium.