On Sunday the New York Jets (6-2) head out to Cleveland to take on the Browns (3-5) at 1pm EST. Last week the Jets snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, while Cleveland surprised many by beating up the New England Patriots. This game has many storylines as Jets head coach Rex Ryan gets to take on his brother Rob Ryan (who is the defensive coordinator in Cleveland), Browns coach Eric Mangini takes on his former team for the first time, while Jets receiver Braylon Edwards gets his first shot at his former team the Browns.
Lets take a look at some of the keys to the game.
1) Physical line play- This is going to be a very physical game and the Jets offensive line must set the tone by dominating the battles at the line of scrimmage. Gang Green’s line has to open holes for the running game, which in turn opens up opportunities in the passing game.
2) Smash mouth football- Rex Ryan has preached his “ground and pound” philosophy and this is the perfect game to implement it. The Jets need to establish their running game and pound it down the Brown’s throats. This will not only take the raucous home crowd out of the game, but will open up the play action pass as well.
3) Establish Keller- The Jets passing game seems most effective when they establish tight end Dustin Keller early on. Keller is a big, reliable target that is a match-up nightmare for most defenses. Gang Green must get Dustin going early in the game, which will spread out the Cleveland defense and create some big play opportunities.
Key statistic – Jets rushing offense ranked 4th in the NFL vs Cleveland’s run defense ranked 15th in the NFL
1) Hit Hillis- The Cleveland Brown’s offense is built around running back Peyton Hillis. Hillis enters the game as the Brown’s leading rusher (644 yards) as well as a dangerous threat catching the ball out of the backfield (30 catches). Gang Green must find ways to shut down Hillis and the Brown’s running game in order to put pressure on rookie quarterback Colt McCoy to make plays.
2) Keep McCoy in the pocket- Rookie quarterback Colt McCoy has energized the Browns offense with his ability to make plays outside of the pocket. The Jets must contain McCoy while at the same time forcing the rookie into poor decisions. Gang Green must get pressure on Colt and not allow him to get comfortable early on in the game.
3) Solid secondary play- The Jets have a tremendous advantage when it comes to defending the Browns passing attack. Cleveland has some solid receiving threats, but lacks the big playmaker that can break the game open. Gang Green should be able to shut down the passing attack with solid play from corners Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie. The Browns could try to attack the nickel back position, but I think both Kyle Wilson and Drew Coleman will be able to do some good things in coverage as well.
Key statistic- Cleveland Browns rushing offense ranked 13th vs. Jets #4 ranked run defense
I understand the hype around the Browns and their recent success, but I think their style plays right into the Jets hands. Gang Green will embrace the physical style of play and the raucous, circus like atmosphere will fuel them even more. The Jets should be able to slow down Cleveland’s running game and force McCoy into poor decisions and turnovers. Jets 27-13
One side note: How much fun was it to watch Rex Ryan, Rob Ryan, and Eric Mangini talk some trash this week? Rex takes a lot of heat for his bravado, but the guy truly loves the game of football and is enjoying every moment coaching the New York Jets. So often coaches come in with the robotic, doom and gloom approach and it was more than refreshing to see the Ryan’s and Mangini lighten things up a bit. It is a game after all.