Preview, predictions, what to watch for

Brian Costello

By Brian Costello

An inside look at Sunday’s Jets-Browns Week 2 matchup in Cleveland.

Marquee matchup

Jets LT George Fant and RT Max Mitchell vs. Browns edge rushers Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney

The Ravens sacked Joe Flacco three times last week and hit him 11 times. It was not a good showing by the revamped Jets offensive line.

Now … they get to deal with one of the best pass-rushing tandems in the NFL: Garrett and Clowney. Garrett had two sacks last week against Carolina and Clowney had a half-sack.

Garrett is a major headache for any team that plays against him. He has already had four seasons with double-digit sacks, and his Week 1 performance made it looks as if he is primed to add a fifth season.

Fant did not play well in Week 1 after moving back to left tackle. Mitchell, a rookie, was OK in his first game, but this will be a much bigger test.

George Fant and Myles Garrett
Bill Kostroun; Getty Images

“Myles Garrett is an absolute problem. He’s a man on a mission,” Jets offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur said. “You could see it least week, you could see it last year. Jadeveon Clowney is always going to be a problem, having to play him in Seattle in 2019, the year [the 49ers] went to the Super Bowl. He wrecked our game. … They’re a problem.”

Costello’s call

Head coach Robert Saleh gave the Jets a rallying cry this week, and now we’ll see if they can prove their coach right that this team is different. A win over a talented Brown team would go a long way toward that. I think the Jets will play inspired defense and get just enough offensively to pull off the upset.

Jets 20, Browns 10

Four downs

On the run: It is no mystery what the Browns want to do on offense. They rushed for 217 yards last week, with Nick Chubb (141 yards rushing) and Kareem Hunt (one rushing touchdown, one receiving touchdown) carving up the Panthers.

The Jets did a good job slowing down Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ rushing attack last week. This will be another big challenge. The Jets surely will stack the box and try to force backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett to make plays to beat them.

“As far as the run game, we’ve got to go in with our big boy pads on because we know they’re going to run the ball,” linebacker C.J. Mosley said.

This is a different style of running game than the Ravens had, but the keys will again be whether the Jets can keep the backs from popping off big runs and whether they can set the edge against this team.

Long time coming: The Browns won their first Week 1 game since 2004 last week, and now they are trying to start 2-0 for the first time since they were the old Browns in 1993. That team was coached by Bill Belichick and quarterbacked by Bernie Kosar. So, it has been a while.

The Cleveland fans will be fired up for the home opener and the debut of Brownie the Elf as the midfield logo, something that was voted on by fans.

Jets quarterback Joe Flacco knows the Browns well. He is 17-3 in his career against Cleveland and 8-2 at FirstEnergy Stadium, with 11 touchdown passes and six interceptions there.

Hello Mr. Wilson: Jets coaches admitted this week they need to do a better job getting rookie wide receiver Garrett Wilson involved in the game. Wilson had just six snaps in the first half last week before having a bigger role later in the game, when the Jets were playing catch-up. Wilson finished with four catches for 52 yards in his debut. Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur praised the effort from Wilson.

“The game is just not too big for him,” LaFleur said. “You never know going into the first game, I had a pretty good idea of how he was going to react.”

Keep your receipts: Head coach Robert Saleh made big news on Monday when he promised to remember what critics say about the Jets by “keeping the receipts.” Now, the Jets have to back up their coach’s talk. A loss to the Browns and you can be sure fans will show up at MetLife Stadium next week waving receipts of their own.

Saleh is adamant that this team is different, but he knows the Jets need to prove it.

“This is not the same old Jets, but until we win, until we prove it, which is on us as coaches and on us as players, the shots will keep on coming,” Saleh said, “so we welcome them, keep bringing them, it’s not going to change our mission and that’s to bring this organization and this fan base a win.”

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