New York Jets 2020 Opponents – Cleveland Browns

Michael Meegan finishes his New York Jets opponent preview series with a look at the Cleveland Browns…

The Cleveland Browns like the New York Jets are a tortured franchise.   In 2019 the Browns were seen as the next big thing with a hype train that got out of control.  Poised for the Super Bowl by some the Browns woefully underachieved in 2019 finishing with a 6-10 record.  They fired their HC and GM and brought in Kevin Stefanski and Andrew Berry Two Ivy League minds to finally right the ship.  The Jets face off with Cleveland in their home finale week 16 with both fan bases hoping that both sides will have something to play for come December.

Coaching Kevin Stefanski is an interesting HC hire for the Browns.  2019 was the only full year Stefanski was a coordinator in the NFL and many have questioned how much of the Vikings offense was actually Gary Kubiak who is one of the greatest offensive minds in NFL history.  A lot about Stefanski is unknown and being a new coach in this abbreviated offseason is going to be difficult so I am curious to see how Stefanski does with a roster that is loaded with talent

Joe Woods was brought in to be the DC as he was the DB’s coach for the 49ers in 2019.  The 49ers defense was excellent last year and Richard Sherman look reinvigorated under Joe Woods.  The Browns have a lot of talent on defense and they underwhelmed last year.  Woods is a well-respected guy around the league and I think he can make this defense into a top 10 defense.

Personnel Baker Mayfield sucked in 2019 after breaking the rookie passing touchdown record in 2018.  I do not think Baker is as bad a QB as he was in 2019 nor do I think he is as good as he was in 2018.  I think he falls somewhere in between in the Kirk Cousins mold where if everything is good around him he can put up big numbers and the team can succeed.  The Browns offense is built like Noah’s Ark as they have two of everything.  Two Pro Bowl WR’s in Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry, Two Pro Bowl RB’s Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, Two good TE’s David Njoku and Austin Hooper.  They also have two All Pro’s on their offensive line in OT Jack Conklin and OG Joel Bitonio as well as 2020 top 10 pick Jedrick Wills who many thought was the best OT in the entire draft.  

Myles Garret is one of the most dynamic pass rushers in the NFL and if he finally puts it all together he has the talent to challenge Aaron Donald for the best defensive player in the NFL.  Denzel Ward is one of the best young corners in the league and now fully healthy the Browns are hoping he makes the jump to All Pro that Tre White and Marlon Humphrey made last year in their third years in the league.  The Browns also have some savvy veterans in Sheldon Richardson and Olivier Vernon who they are hoping bounce back after down years in 2019.

Potential Weaknesses The Browns are a roster loaded with talent and it’s hard to find many weaknesses with the team.  The biggest one is if Baker Mayfield cannot correct his mistakes and his 2019 version is just who he is it really cripples the offensive talent around him.  The Browns also may have the worst linebackers in football and that front 7 is really relying on Myles Garret to be focal point of it all and if something happens to him there really going to struggle.

Matchup with the Jets Baker and Sam were taken in the top 3 of the same draft so they will always be linked and it makes their matchups with each other that more special.  The Browns are always going to try establish the run to open up play action as its where Baker excels.  The Jets are great at stopping the run and in last year’s matchup Gregg Williams did a great job confusing Baker and he really look rattled.  With no Trevor Siemian Luke Faulk combo playing this year I think the Jets can actually score on the Browns unlike last year.  I think this comes down to what QB can make more plays and the Browns have done a million times better job surrounding Baker with talent then the Jets have with Sam.  Sam is really going to have to overcome that stacked deck if the Jets are going to sneak out the win and really show the Browns what they were missing when they passed on him in the draft.