By Peter Schwartz
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There is no shortage of storylines surrounding Sunday’s game between the Jets and Browns in Cleveland.
1) Jets head coach Rex Ryan faces his twin brother Rob who is the Browns defensive coordinator.
2) Former Browns receiver Braylon Edwards returns to Cleveland for the first time since being traded to the Jets last season.
3) And you have the Jets facing former head coach Eric Mangini who was fired after the 2008 season and replaced by Ryan.
Now there’s enough material to fill articles, columns, blogs, talk-shows, updates, and office chatter all week.
But here’s the most important storyline and it hasn’t been talked about that much.
This is a big game for the 6-2 Jets. They have not played well over the last few weeks and are fortunate to hold a share of the top spot in the AFC East.
And this is a scary Browns team coming off back to back wins over the Super Bowl champion Saints and the Patriots .
“I think it’s going to be a great game,” said Jets head coach Rex Ryan. “I really do. You look at the way they’re playing. No surprise. They’re laying it out there. It’s going to be a great challenge because they want to run the football clearly and we pride ourselves in being able to stop the run. We finally get to play an old-fashioned football game. It ought to be fun.”
It will be even more fun for the Jets if they can get a complete performance from all three phases of the team, something that hasn’t happened all season.
While the defense has played well for the most part, the offense has sputtered over the last few weeks. The special teams have been okay, but the Jets have been waiting for a breakout play all season.
But clearly it’s the lack of offensive execution that has been alarming. Between dropped passes, failure to convert on third down, and a power outage in the running game, the Jets have not been able to put together a solid performance in quite a while.
“We’ve done it for about three quarters and a half,” said quarterback Mark Sanchez. But just like last week, we had to wait until the very end and that’s when we kind of turned it on. It’s our job to start fast and finish these games strong and finish the second half of the season mistake-free. We really need to make a concerted effort to stop with the penalties and take care of the football.”
That will be very important against a Browns team that dismantled the Patriots last week. They confused Tom Brady last week and will no doubt try to do the same with Sanchez who has showed a knack of raising his game in crunch time.
But can he do it for sixty minutes?
He knows that the Browns defense will try to make life difficult for him.
“A lot of that is knowing Coach Mangini’s tendencies,” said Sanchez. “A lot of that is Rob Ryan with (his defense) similar to Rex’s stuff. They have their own fingerprint, but they do a lot of the same stuff. The way they move around, the way they disguise, they did a great job last week.”
The Jets have been able to win some game despite not playing well and there are always the theories of “a win is a win is a win” and “good teams find a way to win when they are not playing well.”
But the Jets enter the second half of the season with a lot of questions.
Can they get their offense on track?
Can the defense find a pass rush?
Can the Jets put together a complete performance for sixty minutes?
We’ll start to find out the answer to those questions beginning with Sunday’s game in Cleveland.
RYAN BOWL VIII
Twin brother Rex and Rob Ryan will be facing each other in either college or pro for the eight time on Sunday. Rex has won four of the previous seven encounters including both NFL meetings.
Rex certainly knows what to expect from his brother.
“He’s probably the most creative guy in the league,” said Ryan. “He doesn’t worry about what a player can’t do. He focuses on what they can do. You see that. When you put Eric Mangini and Rob together, that’s quite a team. They let the creative juices flow and they’re doing a great job. I will say this about my brother. He probably breaks down an opponent better than anybody I’ve ever been around. He’s a football junkie. He’ll know your tendencies from two years ago, so he studies everything. He tries not to be surprised on Sunday and that’s what we talked to Schotty (Brian Schottenheimer) about.
BRAYLON IS BACK
Former Browns wide receiver makes his return to Cleveland on Sunday. He had a turbulent ending to his time with the Browns and was traded to the Jets early last season. He wasn’t happy with some of the things that were written and said about him in Cleveland so he’s pretty pumped up about Sunday’s game.
“I’m pretty excited,” said Edwards. “As any former player going against a former team, you’re ready to play those guys. You’re ready to make a statement, especially since it happens to be there in Cleveland. I’m really excited and can’t wait.”
Edwards has to be careful about being too excited about the game. While he wants to show the Browns what they’re missing, the bigger picture is that it’s a huge game for the Jets and he can’t let his emotions get the best of him.
“I’m not worried about being too amped up,” said Edwards. “I have good teammates around me will help keep me focused if I lose concentration. I don’t think it will be a problem. I think I’m pretty professional about it and will be ok.”
Edwards has made some big plays this season. It would not be a surprise to see Schotty dial up a Sanchez to Edwards bomb early on.
JETS/BROWNS GAME NOTES
*The Jets will be looking for their eight straight regular season road win dating back to last year.
*The Jets are 5-0 when Mark Sanchez throws at least one touchdown pass in a game.
*Jets running back LaDainian Tomlinson currently has 599 rushing yards and is on pace to join Curtis Martin, Emmitt Smith, Walter Payton, and Barry Sanders as the only players in NFL history with at least nine 1,000-yard rushing seasons.
*Jets tight end Dustin Keller is tied for the team lead with five touchdown catches and is on pace to tie Richard Caster for the most touchdown catches by a tight end in team history. Caster had ten in 1972.
*Browns running back Peyton Hillis leads the team with 644 rushing yards and seven rushing touchdowns. He is on pace to join Jim Brown, Leroy Kelly and Mike Pruitt as the only running backs in franchise history to have 1,000 rushing yards and 10 rushing touchdowns in a season.
*Browns tight end Benjamin Watson leads the team in receptions and receiving yards and can challenge to become the third Browns tight end to reach 800 receiving yards in a season, joining Ozzie Newsome and Kellen Winslow.
The Browns lead the all-time series 12-7. They have won two straight and four of the last five. The last meeting between the two teams was a Browns 24-18 victory at Giants Stadium back in 2007. Braylon Edwards had a touchdown catch in that game.
The Jets have announced that the cast of the Broadway show “Rock of Ages” will perform at halftime of Thanksgiving night’s game against the Bengals at New Meadowlands Stadium on November 25th.
The team also announced that followers of @nyjets, the team’s official Twitter account, will have the chance to be on the field for the halftime concert. The team will tweet a location during the first quarter of the game and the first 150 fans to get to the location at the time indicated will watch the performance from the field.
Okay its prediction time. I think the Jets come up big here in this spot. A complete performance is due to happen. Jets 27 Browns 13.
That’s all for now. Enjoy the game!
- Jets’ Edwards Expects ‘Serious’ Boos In Cleveland (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- Mangini Jokes About Rex Ryan’s Weight Loss (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- Browns’ Mangini Better, Not Bitter About Jets Days (newyork.cbslocal.com)
- On WFAN: Jets’ Cotchery Discusses Sloppy Win (newyork.cbslocal.com)