CLEVELAND, Ohio – Scribbles in my notebook as the Browns prepare to play the Jets in their home opener.
1. How about winning a home opener? Actually, it has happened more than I thought. Coach Kevin Stefanski is 2-0 in home openers, so how about that Browns fans? Before 2020, you have to go back to 2015 for the last time the Browns won a home opener. Cleveland beat the Titans 28-14, perhaps the high point of Johnny Manziel’s career with the Browns. Mike Pettine was the coach. They finished … 1-13 … YIKES!
2. So here come the Browns with a chance to beat the Jets and be 2-0 for the first time since … 1993. Dare I bring up that was the year when Bernie Kosar was cut at midseason? Yikes! Why does so much of recent Browns history sometimes start well but end awful?
3. OK, today’s game. You can look at the Jets and say, “They stink.” They have 137-year-old Joe Flacco at QB. Let’s be fair, he’s only 37. When he was with Baltimore, he was 17-3 vs. the Browns. Flacco started against his old team last week, with the Ravens beating the Jets, 27-9. In his last three years with the Jets, Flacco is 0-6 as a starter.
4. There is a word of warning in that Baltimore game for the Browns. The Ravens rushed for only 63 yards in 21 carries in that game. The Jets have a good defensive line. They have former Raven C.J. Mosley at linebacker. He’s older, but still a good run stopper. Lamar Jackson had only 17 yards in six carries. Baltimore’s longest run was 10 yards.
5. A top NFL executive gave me a scouting report saying the Browns can run the ball on the Jets. They can run it on anyone with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. But they won’t run it as easily as they did in last week’s 26-24 victory in Carolina. In that game, Chubb and Hunt combined for 187 yards in 33 carries. Hunt also scored two TDs.
6. I hear the Jets will concentrate on stopping the Browns running game – no surprise. But a top NFL person told me the Jets will probably play soft pass coverage, mostly zone. They will give Cleveland the short and some medium throws. They want to stay away from the big pass play. This could really help the Browns.
7. The idea for the Browns will be to a play ball-control offense, let Jacoby Brissett hit some “safe throws.” That’s especially true if the Jets play that soft coverage. This could be a good day for Brissett to get in the same football rhythm with Amari Cooper and tight end David Njoku. It’s still hard to believe Njoku played 71 of 80 snaps in Carolina and was targeted only once for a pass.
8. The Jets threw the ball 59 times in their loss to Baltimore. I repeat, they threw it FIFTY-NINE TIMES!!! Yes, the Jets were down 10-0 at the half. But 59 passes for Joe Flacco? Let’s hope the Jets go with that same game plan. Out of their 79 plays on offense, they called 62 passes – counting three sacks.
9. The Jets have some good receivers, especially if the Browns repeat their breakdown in coverage. Former Ohio State star Garrett Wilson will be playing his second pro game. I’ve always liked Corey Davis, who played at Western Michigan. This is not a time for a repeat of the two blown coverages the Browns had in Carolina last week.
10. This should be a good game for the Browns to chew up the clock and put some points on the board on offense. The defense should be able to dominate the Jets. No excuses for losing. Prediction: Browns 20, Jets 10.
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