The Jets will take on the Cleveland Browns in their Week 2 matchup on Sunday, and they’re looking to bounce back after a disappointing opening game, when they lost 24–9 to the Baltimore Ravens.
Gang Green struggled to block against the Ravens defensive front, which brought significant pressure against quarterback Joe Flacco and stuffed up the Jets running attack for most of the game. On defense, the secondary of the Jets looked disorganized and allowed several successful deep passes from Lamar Jackson.
Now, they’ll face Cleveland, which eked out a victory against the Carolina Panthers in their first contest.
Here’s three keys for the Jets to be successful in their road matchup against the Browns:
Stopping the potent Browns run game
One of the few bright spots for the Jets in Week 1 came from their defensive line, which did a satisfactory job bringing pressure in the pass rush, and bottled up the Ravens rushing attack. They held Baltimore to just 63 rushing yards through four quarters — marking the lowest total of any Lamar Jackson-led team throughout his NFL career.
Now, though, they will face off against one of the best running back duos in the NFL, as Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt boast an explosiveness that the Ravens didn’t have. Together, the pair has made 4 Pro-Bowls, and have run rampant against teams throughout their respective NFL careers.
The Browns figure to lean heavily on the rushing attack, as they will enter the game with their backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett (as starter Deshaun Watson continues serving a suspension for sexual assault). Without their marquee signal caller, their offense will likely run through Chubb and Hunt — and the Jets front line will need to perform even better than they did last week if they want to squash the Browns attack.
Last game, the Browns totaled 217 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
The Jets front, led by Quinnen Williams, C.J. Mosley and Carl Lawson will surely be focused on powering through the Browns offensive line — and that will be a major factor in the outcome of Sunday’s matchup.
Jets offensive line vs. Browns defensive front
Gang Green’s offensive line has seen significant injuries this year, as they lost their starting left tackle Mekhi Becton for the year in preseason, and his replacement, Duane Brown, found himself on the Injured Reserve list just prior to their Week 1 game.
That led to a performance from the offensive line that left much to be desired last Sunday. Quarterback Joe Flacco was under pressure on a high percentage of his throws, and the run game did not perform as well as the team had hoped.
Now, they’ll face off against one of the best defensive lines in the league, led by a duo of three-time Pro-Bowlers — Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney.
That duo is enough to make any offensive line sweat, and will be a major test for the Jets to see if they can rebound after a lackluster start.
It will also be intriguing to see whether the Jets run game, which totaled just 83 yards on the ground, can get their game going — especially Breece Hall, who the Jets drafted in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft (as the highest rusher off the board). He averaged 3.8 yards on 6 carries, and lost a fumble in his NFL debut. The team is hoping he can become a featured back for Gang Green, and he will be put to the test against the vaunted Browns on Sunday.
Can Jets fix their special teams woes
Jets kicker Greg Zuerlein missed an extra point, as well a 45-yard field goal that would have tied the game early in their Week 1 matchup.
His only other kick came in the second half, when he successfully attempted a different 45-yard field goal, though there was not much left to play for in the lopsided loss.
The Jets are hoping that Zuerlein’s mishaps were a simple case of Week 1 jitters, but for a team that figures to be scrapping for any points they can get, missing kicks is an extremely worrisome development.
“We’re missing kicks, we’re missing extra points — we’re not going to win football games,” said head coach Robert Saleh. “It’s impossible to win against a veteran team when you move the ball the way you do and you come up empty-handed, time and time again like we did today.”
With 10 years in the NFL, Zuerlein is considered a solid option at the kicking position, and Saleh said he was confident that the veteran would return to form going forward.
“Obviously, it wasn’t his best day, but I’m very confident that he’ll bounce back just fine,” the coach said. “He’s a veteran, I think he’ll bounce back…I’m not worried.”
In the punting game, the Jets recently signed Ty Long to their practice squad after starter Braden Mann saw a porous performance on Sunday. In 6 punts, Mann averaged just 42.2 yards per attempt — including a mis-kick that netted just 20 yards, and put the Ravens in Jets territory, leading to a score for Baltimore.
If the Jets have any hope of improving, they’ll need to clean up their special teams performance.