By Tyson Rauch
On Sunday the New York Jets (6-8) return home to take on the Cleveland Browns (4-10) at MetLife Stadium. The Jets are coming off of a hard fought, yet disappointing, loss to the Panthers while the Browns have lost five games in a row. On paper this appears to be a favorable match-up for New York, but Cleveland is much better than their record indicates.
Veteran quarterback Jason Campbell leads a Cleveland passing attack that is ranked 9th in the NFL averaging over 261 yards a game. Campbell effectively utilizes the vertical game, which features two very dangerous weapons in wide receiver Josh Gordon and tight end Jordan Cameron.
Josh Gordon (1,467 receiving yards, 9 tds) has emerged as one of the best young playmakers in the National Football League. Gordon has rare size and speed and can easily take over a game if not consistently accounted for. The New York Jets secondary will have to double Josh and prevent huge chunks of yards after the catch.
Jordan Cameron (75 receptions, 7 tds) is another young player that has developed into a legitimate threat in the passing game. Cameron has tremendous size that can overpower most linebackers and safeties. The New York defense is going to have to play physical with Jordan on the line of scrimmage, especially on third down and in the red zone.
Better than advertised
Statistically the Cleveland Browns defense is better than most would expect for a 4-10 team. The Browns are ranked 8th against the run, 9th against the pass, 11th in sacks, and 8th in yards allowed. New York’s offensive line, which has struggled with consistency, must play at a very high level on Sunday. Gang Green’s line has to play physical and avoid communication issues which result in free running defenders. Keep an eye on rookie guard Brian Winters who has struggled in pass protection.
Make plays for Geno
Once again rookie quarterback Geno Smith is going to be facing a tremendous amount of pressure in the pocket. The New York Jets pass catchers have to help Smith out by getting separation from their defenders and securing the football. Look for offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to feature Jeremy Kerley, Santonio Holmes, and Jeff Cumberland in the intermediate passing game.
Play hard for Rex?
There is a distinct possibility that the New York players could suffer an emotional letdown following a physical game against the Panthers. Will head coach Rex Ryan be able to rally his troops in a game that will not command a lot of attention? Will the Jets players fight for their coach whose job could be on the line? You will learn a lot about Rex Ryan and his Jets on Sunday afternoon.
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Tyson Rauch is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.