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7 Points: Jets Visit the Winless Browns

Posted Oct 7, 2017

Bowles on the 'Danger' of 0-4 Opponents, 'Getting After' the Rookie QB, Striking in the 2nd Quarter


Head coach Todd Bowles, no surprise, says the challenge for the 2-2 Jets on the road Sunday at 0-4 Cleveland is no different for his squad was 0-1 or 0-2.

Specifically, Bowles said "dangerous" does not compute as a function of win-loss record.

"They're all dangerous every week, regardless of record," Bowles said.

Similarly, he said "relaxing" is not in his vocabulary despite the Jets reaching 2-2 after the season's first quarter.

"You don't get to relax until the season's over," he said. "We're more aware of things and we're getting experience as we go, but they're not relaxed."

Can the Jets rise over .500 and score their first three-game win streak since 2015? Here are seven points of interest for Jets-Browns:

1. The Road to Cleveland
As with the Jaguars, the Jets have been closing the gap in their all-time series with the Browns, which began with a loss in Cleveland in the first Monday Night Football game in 1970. The Green & White have taken the last four to close the Browns' lead to 12-11 and have won the last two in Cleveland, in OT in 2010 and last year by 31-28 (over then-Cleveland QB Josh McCown) to trim the Browns' home edge to 8-7. Another Jets win will even each of those records for the first time in the history of this interdivisional rivalry.

2. Keep a Lid on Kizer
All insist DeShone Kizer is impressive. Browns coach Hue Jackson: "He's growing each and every week." And Jets DC Kacy Rodgers: "My hat's off to him. He's growing up fast." That said, right now Kizer, said Jackson, "is working through it." His 50.9 passer rating, 51.4% accuracy and 8 INTs are worst among 32 qualifying quarterbacks, while Cleveland's offense is 29th in yards/play and its third-down offense is 31st. "We've been studying them," said Leonard Williams. "We're definitely going to try to get after it this week."



3. Time to Strike
When might the Jets be able to assert control? Try the second quarter. Neither team has started hot in the opening period yet. But in the Browns' second quarter, they've been outscored by 63-21 and by nine touchdowns to three. The 63 points, 9 TDs and minus-42 point margin all represent the worst totals in any quarter by any NFL team in the first four weeks of the season.

4. Rush to Greatness?
Bilal Powell (163 yards) and Elijah McGuire (93 yards) were a great 1-2 rushing punch vs. the Jaguars as the Jets vaulted to third in the NFL in yards/carry (4.9), and remember, Powell had a 35-yard TD run at Cleveland last year. Still, it will be hard to duplicate those 75- and 69-yard mad dashes against the Browns run defense, which is third in the league in yards/carry allowed. As accurate as McCown has been, he'll need to find his receivers and find them for scores, considering the Jets are 21st in points and 27th in TD drive rate (14.3%).

5. Rookies on Parade
We know a lot about the Jets' top two draft picks, safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye. But the Browns have three aces they may be able to deal in this game. DL Myles Garrett, the top pick of the draft, is coming off a high ankle sprain and could make his pro debut in this game. S Jabrill Peppers, like Adams/Maye, has started all four games, and further, has handled all the Browns' punts (4.8 yards/return) and kickoffs (21.1). And the Jets D, after showing well against the Dolphins' and Jaguars' tight ends, face TE David Njoku, who already has two TD grabs.


6. Takeaway Time
Kony Ealy had a great second half against Blake Bortles and the Jags, but his interception was the only takeaway of the game. The Jets (minus-3) still have had trouble reaching a plus TO margin and in particular in falling on fumbles. They've forced only two, and they have no recoveries — the first time in franchise history they've recovered no opponent fumbles after the first four games. It's time for top-tackling Demario Davis, the veteran front line, the young back end — anyone — to pry the ball out of the Browns' hands and help the Jets' chances.

7. Beware the Winless
At first glance, history says this is a good spot for the Jets. They are 4-1 all-time against 0-4 opponents, the lone loss at home to the always dangerous Steelers in 2013. But if we look at games against all winless foes with at least four losses, it's not as sure a thing. Overall the Jets are 15-6, on the road they're 5-2. The W's include last year's road victory, but among the L's are 28-27 to the 0-9 Colts in '91 and 21-20 to (Archie) Manning and the 0-14 Saints as the snow fell at Shea in '80. Thus Bowles' point about the Browns: "It's the NFL. They're dangerous."

 

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