Florham Park, N.J. - The season for the New York Jets didn't start off bad. They were 1-1 and averaged 29.5 points per game. Then the toughest part of their schedule hit and big injuries occurred and before you know it the Jets are 2-5 with a not-so-good offense and an above-average defense. The Jets take on the Cleveland Browns in Week Eight and are in line to completely turn their season around.
The Jets are having a rough beginning to their season, but the Browns are having a nightmare season. Winless through seven games, the Browns have had six quarterbacks line up under center. Robert Griffin III went on the IR after suffering a shoulder injury in Week One. Josh McCown broke his collarbone in Week Two, but is optimistic to start this Sunday. Rookie Cody Kessler has started since Week Three, but a concussion last week could keep him out. In between where Kessler wasn't on the field, Terrelle Pryor, Charlie Whitehurst, and fellow rookie Kevin Hogan have started in games. Pryor is the top receiver for the Browns while Whitehurst was later cut by the team. McCown, Kessler, and Hogan are all possibilities to start on Sunday.
Overall, the Browns have been struggling greatly on defense, as they are 31st in the NFL in total defense (425.6 YPG), 29th in pass defense (285.7 YPG), 31st in rush defense (139.9 YPG), 30th in scoring defense (29.6 PPG), 31st in third down defense, and 30th in red zone defense. Terrible numbers for the team. This bodes well for the Jets, who have been struggling in all offensive categories.
Ryan Fitzpatrick needs to go off against a struggling Browns secondary, who have looked worse than the Jets. Fitzpatrick is outside the top 40 in the NFL in completion percentage (57.4%), 28th in yards per game (223), and 27th in touchdowns (6). The only category in which he leads the NFL is interceptions with 11. "I probably play better as an underdog, pissed off," said Fitzpatrick after Sunday's win. "And so, going forward, yeah, I'm gonna be pissed off." Fitzpatrick was benched following the Jets 28-3 loss to the Cardinals. After Geno Smith was hurt in the game against the Ravens, Fitzpatrick came in and threw for 120 yards and a touchdown in the teams second win of the season.
"If pissed off is going to stop the turnovers, I'm more than happy to have him pissed off the whole time," head coach Todd Bowles said after hearing Fitzpatrick's comments. Fitz needs to make the best of his situation, as he's probably on a short leash. Fans are calling for Bryce Petty to make his NFL debut.
Matt Forte should see another big day at his hands, as the Browns rush defense is worse than their pass defense. Forte has reached exactly 100 yards on the ground twice this season, his most on the year. He most recently reached that mark last game, but it took 30 carries to get there. He did cross the goal-line on the ground for the first time since September 15. Forte also had four catches for 54 yards and a receiving touchdown, his first of the year. After bouncing back, Forte has to be feeling good going into this week against the Browns. With Fitzpatrick struggling recently, look for the Jets to lean on the run game until he's able to get back into his groove.
The Jets have big targets in Brandon Marshall and Quincy Enunwa to also lean on. Enunwa leads the team in receptions with 32 while Marshall is right behind him with 30. Marshall was held in check last week with three catches for 39 yards while Enunwa only had two catches, but made the most of it with 72 yards, one being a 69 yard touchdown run. Both players have explosive ability and can cause trouble when given the chance. Throw in wild cards Robby Anderson and Charone Peake, who are waiting patiently to have their first big games, and Fitzpatrick should find success in finding them.
The defense also shouldn't have a problem manhandling the Browns offense. Through the air, the Browns are on of the worst in the NFL. This comes at a good time for the Jets, as they are coming off their best game as a secondary. Both Buster Skrine and Marcus Gilchrist picked off Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco while Darrelle Revis played his best game this year. They did let up a couple big plays through the air, but it was better than it has been. Look for them to contain Terrelle Pryor, who has been struggling lately.
The one thing where the Jets may struggle in is defending against the run. New York is second in the NFL, allowing 74.1 yards per game on the ground. Last week, they held the Ravens to six total yards on the ground, including -2 in the second half. The Browns are eighth in the league, averaging 120.6 yards per game. That's all thanks to the two-headed monster they have in Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson. Crowell has 495 yards and four touchdowns on the ground, while Johnson has 182 and one touchdown. Also catching out of the backfield, Johnson has 210 yards while Crowell has logged 107 yards. Both backs are versatile, but the Jets are coming off of a monster week. What bodes well is that the Browns have allowed 21 sacks through seven games this season, making it easier for the tough Jets defensive front to get to whoever the Browns quarterback is.
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Cleveland Indians have had a lot of success recently, but the same doesn't apply to the Browns. Make no mistake, the New York Jets are going to stomp all over the Browns on Sunday in part of turning their season around.