If all that matters is what the New York Jets have done lately, they haven’t done nearly enough.
A poor first half cost them in Sunday’s home opener, with the Miami Dolphins winning the first division matchup, 20-12. The loss seemed to render the Week 1 thrashing of the Lions in Detroit on Monday Night Football as a distant memory.
Now, the pressure is on. Not only must the Jets avoid sliding to 1-2, but they’ll be playing to avoid the ignominy of being the first team to lose to the Cleveland Browns (0-1-1) since December 2016. Read on for three things to keep an eye on in the matchup.
Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor is only a few yards shy of the team rushing lead, gaining 103 yards on 12 carries and scoring a touchdown. That’s the bad news. Good news: Taylor is barely completing half his pass attempts, and they just traded troubled but talented receiver Josh Gordon. Top wideout Jarvis Landry is listed as questionable, too.
The Jets’ linebackers must not let Taylor make plays with his legs. Force him to throw, and let Jamal Adams and the secondary shut down the aerial attack.
Sam Darnold, the Jets’ rookie signal caller, doesn’t look like a seasoned veteran yet, but two games into his career he’s provided plenty to like. On Thursday, he can show the Browns what could have been theirs if they selected him No. 1 overall in April; they instead used the pick on QB Baker Mayfield instead.
While Mayfield sits behind Taylor, Darnold is completing 66.1 percent of his passes. His teammates routinely, publicly vouch for his abilities as a passer, and he might be motivated to show Clevelanders what they missed out on.
Isaiah Crowell found success during four years in Cleveland, even if the team rarely did. The running back, who signed with the Jets during the offseason, was known for breaking off long runs. In 2016, he ran for a career-long 85-yard score. For two consecutive years, he gained more than 1,000 yards from scrimmage.
Now, he’ll return as the opposition and sporting a healthy 6.2 yards per carry. He also scored on a 62-yard run, one of his two Week 1 TDs. Look for a big game from No. 20.
Jets 24, Browns 21