The last meeting between the Jets and Browns in 2004 ended in a 10-7 victory by New York. (Jets Insider.com Photo)
Rookie head coach Eric Mangini spent the days leading up to his Jets Week 2 showdown with the New England Patriots insisting that the game was not about him and his former mentor Bill Belichick. He has done much the same this week, saying that he is still good friends with fellow former Pats assistant and current Browns head coach Romeo Crennel. The only difference is this time it has become obvious that Mangini is right at 4-3 the Jets suddenly find themselves with a chance to be the surprise team of the season.
It would be easy for the Jets to over look this game because of Cleveland’s miserable one-win record. However, the team did not suffer a let down when the took on a one-win Lions team last week and expects to handle their business much the same this week.
“I think those games are the ones you have to be more focused for; you just have to go compete and play your game,” linebacker Eric Barton said. “This is the NFL, there is no easy week.”
The Browns rushing game has been miserable all season, ranked 31st in the NFL with an average of 68.2 yards a game, so the Jets emphasis will have to be on stopping the Browns aerial attack. While the Cleveland passing game has not been much better, averaging just over 177 yards a game, they certainly have the weapons to do some damage. Wide receiver Braylon Edwards is a big receiver capable of stretching the field and across from him is Joe Jurevicius is a terrific possession receiver with a nose for the end zone. Still, the biggest threat in the Browns passing game is tight end Kellen Winslow, who is listed questionable but has practiced this week.
“He’s explosive,” Mangini said of the former college standout. “He runs like a wide receiver, he catches the ball really well, whether it’s in traffic or in space. All those qualities you saw in him in college which were a little bit sidetracked by the delay that he had with the injuries, they’re there.”
Offensively, the Jets may need to turn to the running game as they did last week because Cleveland has played terrific pass defense. As Jets quarterback Chad Pennington pointed out this week, they are holding teams to just a 54 percent completion percentage and under 200 yards a game through the air.
“They make you earn every yard you get,” Pennington said of the Browns. “They held Carolina to zero-for-11 on third down. That’s the first time in history that that had happened. I don’t know if it was on Carolina’s side or Cleveland’s side but that’s pretty impressive when you hold a team to no third down conversions.”
Despite the stinginess of the Browns defense, you have to like Gang Green’s chances in this game. Not only are the Browns a bumbling 1-5 team right now, but they are a team in some turmoil with the resignation of offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon this past Monday. If the Jets can take care of business in Cleveland this weekend, they will find themselves heading into the bye week at 5-3 and in certain playoff contention.
-The relationship between Mangini and Crennel has been the focus of a ton of media attention this week. Unlike Mangini’s relationship with Belichick, however, this one has not turned icy. The two coaches know each other very well and Crennel even spent some time as a house guest at Mangini’s home while his own house was remodeled while the two were in New England. Though the two admitted they probably would not talk much this week, they did say that they still talk often and wish each other success.
-During the training camp the Browns and Jets were trading partners for a short time before a trade that sent running back Lee Suggs to the Jets and cornerback Derrick Strait to the Browns was voided when Suggs failed his physical. There won’t be any bad blood on the field on Sunday, however, as both Suggs and Strait have been cut from their respective teams.
-Though no NFL team looks past any opponent, it has been tough for some around Jets headquarters not to look ahead to next week. Mangini has said that next week is the earliest star running back Curtis Martin may be taken off the physically unable to perform list and begin practicing with the team. While the Jets did not appear to need Martin in rushing for 221 yards as a team last week, getting a future-hall-of-famer back never hurts.
-The last time these teams met was in 2004 when the Jets beat the Browns 10-7 in Cleveland.
New York Jets
-FB B.J. Askew (Foot): Questionable
-CB David Barrett (Hip): Questionable
-WR Laveranues Coles (Calf): Questionable
-WR Tim Dwight (Thigh): Questionable
-RB Cedric Houston (Knee): Questionable
-OL Trey Teague (Ankle): Questionable
-RB Kevan Barlow (Calf): Probable
-LB Matt Chatham (Foot): Probable
-T Anthony Clement (Back): Probable
-DE Shaun Ellis (Back): Probable
-DL Bobby Hamilton (Knee): Probable
-LB Brad Kassell (Thigh): Probable
-OL Pete Kendall (Thigh): Probable
-CB Justin Miller (Hip): Probable
-QB Chad Pennington (Calf): Probable
-S Kerry Rhodes (Thigh): Probable
-DL Dewayne Robertson (Hand): Probable
-WR Brad Smith (Thigh): Probable
-DL Kimo von Oelhoffen (Knee): Probable
-CB Leigh Bodden (Ankle): Questionable
-S Justin Hamilton (Ankle): Questionable
-WR Dennis Northcutt (Ribs): Questionable
-S Brodney Pool (Hamstring): Questionable
-S Brian Russell (Ankle): Questionable
-T Ryan Tucker (Illness): Questionable
-FB Lawrence Vickers (Elbow): Questionable
-TE Kellen Winslow (Knee): Questionable
Game time is at 4:15PM on Sunday, local TV on CBS 2 and local radio on 1050 ESPN radio and WCRN 104.3 on Long Island. Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com after the game for a complete recap!