NFL 2019 (Week 2): Cleveland Browns at New York Jets

Russell S. Baxter

NFL 2019 (Week 2): Cleveland Browns at New York Jets

By Jesse Pierson

Special to Pro Football Guru

Both the Browns and the Jets entered this season with cautious optimism. Each franchise has its starting quarterback for the foreseeable future, and in spite of question marks within the respective rosters, many believed that these teams would be cellar-dwellers no more. And then Week 1 happened. Cleveland got shellacked by Tennessee, 43-13, while the Jets blew a 16-0 third quarter lead against Buffalo, losing 17-16. These teams played each other last year, which resulted in the Browns’ first victory since 2016. That was also the first game that Baker Mayfield played in, out-dueling fellow rookie Sam Darnold.

Browns: “Believeland” sparked hope in its fan base to close out last season, with rookie sensation Baker Mayfield showing why he was the first pick in the draft. Trading for Odell Beckham Jr. did little to dampen expectations. Some fans (and pundits) even went so far as to predict an AFC North championship this year. The loss to the Titans showed that, even with ridiculous talent at the skill positions, a team can only go so far as their offensive line will take them. The Browns’ line is bad, but the group as a whole collected 18 penalties for 182 yards, which is nearly impossible for anyone to overcome. Mayfield also tossed up three interceptions and was sacked five times for good measure. This was not the start that anyone in the Dawg Pound envisioned, although it still only counts as one game in the loss column. Myles Garrett did nab two sacks (the team had four), and the Browns’ defense limited Marcus Mariota’s Titans to 20 percent on third-down conversions, but they could not force any turnovers on a short field, which may have bailed out their offensive counterparts.

Jets: Lose a divisional game at home in which you held a double-digit second half lead? Check. Lose your star linebacker C.J. Mosley in said game? Check. Also, your rookie first-round pick Quinnen Williams in injured? Check. Sit your quarterback for a month or so with mono? Checkmate. Things have certainly been better for Gang Green, so a shorthanded win would go a long way toward keeping this season afloat. Running back Le’Veon Bell and newly-acquired receiver Demaryius Thomas are expected to play through injuries, alongside left tackle Kelvin Beachum. Veteran backup quarterback Trevor Siemian will need all the help he can get. The Jets have two outstanding safeties in Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, plus defensive lineman Leonard Williams is a load up front. Winning ugly should be the focus for Adam Gase’s team this week. They will need to stem the tide of bad luck until Darnold returns to health, especially with New England, Philadelphia, Dallas, and New England on deck after this primetime affair (they do, mercifully, have a bye week between the Patriots and Eagles games).

Prediction: Cleveland lives up to its promise in this one. Mayfield will be sacked a few more times, but the Browns’ swarming defense will be too much for Siemian to handle.

Cleveland Browns 24, New York Jets 10

Jesse Pierson (@jessetpierson) is a former teacher and high school football coach who has written about the Colts for over a decade. He loves football, dogs, food, and comedy, and you can follow his work on his Facebook page, Jesse Pierson, Mediocre Writer.

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