By Glenn Naughton
When the 2-5 New York Jets travel to Cleveland to take on the 0-7 Browns, it will be a match-up between two of the NFL’s most pathetic franchises when it comes to identifying and acquiring quarterback talent.
The last time both teams had anything that resembled somewhat consistent “quality” quarterback play was back in the 1980’s when Bernie Kosar was under center for the Browns, and Ken O’ Brien for the Jets.
Since then it’s been a parade of forgettable mediocrity for each club as they continue to swing and miss at the most important position in all of professional sports.
This Sunday won’t be much different.
The hapless Browns appear to be poised to start Josh McCown against a fellow journeyman, Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick. This should be one for the ages.
Despite the fact that the game has very little true meaning as far as the 2016 season is concerned, here are a few match-ups worth keeping an eye on.
Jets CB Darrelle Revis vs. Browns WR Terrelle Pryor:
There’s no denying that the winless Browns are low on talent, but Pryor may be the best story of the 2016 season. Once a quarterback for current Browns head coach Hue Jackson while together in Oakland, Pryor has transformed himself into a legitimate weapon at wide receiver. His 431 yards and 5 touchdowns are tops on the roster, and Revis has played much better as of late after getting off to an embarrassingly slow start this season.
Jets WR’s Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa vs. CB Joe Hayden:
Marshall has struggled to some degree in 2016, leading the NFL with six dropped passes while Enunwa has been Gang Green’s best receiver from for much of the season.
Hayden, along with offensive tackle Joe Thomas are the best players on the Browns roster, and he’ll be a busy man on Sunday in trying to keep up with Marshall and Enunwa. Working in his favor however, is that the aforementioned Ryan Fitzpatrick is playing the worst football of his life, and the receivers will be limited in what routes they can “sell” when trying to create separation.
Jets ILB David Harris vs. Browns RB Isaiah Crowell:
A pleasant surprise so far this season, Crowell is averaging an impressive 5.3 yards per carry as Cleveland’s number one running back, while Jets fans were reminded last week of the importance of Harris in the middle of their defense.
Just two weeks ago, the Jets yielded over 150 yards on the ground to the Airzona Cardinals when Harris was on the shelf with a balky hamstring. Upon his return against the Baltimore Ravens, the Jets surrendered a team-record low 6 yards rushing. Look for Harris and Crowell to become pretty familiar with one another on Sunday.
Jets DL Sheldon Richardson vs. Browns OT Joe Thomas:
Saving the bets for last, this battle could be worth the price of admission on its own if and when Richardson is lined up across from Thomas who is still one of the top left tackles in the NFL.
As mentioned above, David Harris’ return to the line-up last week helped improve the Jets’ run defense, but it was Richardson who set the tone, consistently penetrating the Ravens offensive line as he picked up a sack and multiple tackles for loss. Richardson may be Thomas’ toughest task this season if Richardson plays with the same intensity and fire as he did last Sunday at MetLife Stadium.
An ugly football game between a pair of bottom-feeders that won’t be the most inspirational game we’ve ever seen.