By Abraham Gutierrez
MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, will come alive once again, because it’s finally time for NFL Kickoff 2015. Getting things started is a matchup of teams looking to bounce back from subpar seasons, as the New York Jets will get the Todd Bowles era underway by hosting the Cleveland Browns. CBS Sports will be handling broadcasting duties for this one, and opening kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.
Browns 2014 NFL Season Recap
In Mike Pettine’s first year as Cleveland head coach, the Browns closed out the 2014 NFL regular season in last place in the AFC North with an overall record of 7-9. Nevertheless, there’s optimism in The Forest City heading into the 2015 NFL season.
It was the tale of two halves for the Dawg Pound in 2014, as they went 5-3 in their first 8 games of the season. However, the wheels would fall off following the midway point, as Cleveland went 2-6 during that stretch. The Browns closed things out on a 5-game skid, thus, extending the franchise’s playoff drought to 12 seasons.
Browns on Offense
Born in Youngstown, Ohio, John DeFilippo was named Cleveland’s offensive coordinator on January 21, 2015. After three seasons as quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders, the James Madison product replaced Kyle Shanahan as Browns OC, but not without much skepticism.
Due to his lack of NFL (play-calling) experience, DeFilippo’s offensive scheme will likely mirror the one Shanahan employed a year ago. Based on the information available, one can infer that he will utilize the same plays and packages offensive players are already familiar with rather than starting from scratch.
Thus, the Jets defense can expect to see a balanced offensive attack that includes zone-blocking schemes to facilitate the run, as well as no shortage of play-action plays and quarterback rollouts. Last year, the Browns offense ranked 23rd in total yards, 20th through the air, and 17th in their ground attack.
Browns on Defense
Last season, the Browns featured one of the best passing defenses in the NFL, but the absolute worst run-defense in all of professional football. As a result, Jim O’Neil’s “D” ranked 23rd overall, allowing 366.1 yards per game, out of which, 224 came through the air, and a whopping 141.6 yards per game through the ground.
Vouching to “stop the run,” O’Neil and his entire staff locked themselves in a meeting room at the team’s facility for 13 hours last January. Their goal was not only improve on last season’s anemic resistance, but more so, to try and ‘build a bully on defense’ for the 2015 NFL campaign.
Browns Players to Watch
Because so much emphasis will be placed on Cleveland’s running game this season – and with Terrance West traded to the Titans – the offensive player to watch in Week 1 against Gang Green is second-year running back, Isaiah Crowell. In his rookie campaign, the 22-year-old from Columbus, Georgia, racked up 607 yards on 148 carries, for an average of 4.1 yards-per-carry and eight scores in 16 games played (4 starts).
Defensively, the Browns are expected to have the best secondary in the business, anchored by none other than 2014 Pro Bowl honoree, Joe Haden. Entering his sixth season out of the University of Florida, the 26-year-old from Fort Washington, Maryland, was second in the team with a career-best 73 tackles, and third on the club with a trio of picks.
2015 NFL Week 1: Browns vs. Jets Betting Odds
If NFL Week 1 oddsmakers are correct, home cooking will be the winning formula for the opener, as the New York Jets (-3) are listed as three-point favorites versus the visiting Cleveland Browns (+3). The OVER/UNDER for 2015 NFL season opener is set at a combined total of 40 points, and straight-up money-lines look like this: Dawg Pound (+130) vs. Gang Green (-150).
Abe Gutierrez’s passion led him to ditch law school journey in order to launch his own publishing company. His expertise make him a valued addition to Examiner.com, AXS.com and the CBS-Sports family. Some of his work can be found on CBS-Miami (Dolphins), CBS-LosAngeles (Chargers) and CBS-TampaBay (Buccaneers), AXS.com, Examiner.com. and other online publications.