81 degrees, humid, wind 10mph
Key Decision #1: (CLE ball, trailing 14-3 / fourth-and-2 NYJ 42 / 8:13 Q3)
• At this juncture, the Browns had clearly gained momentum once QB Baker Mayfield entered the game, and on this series he was showing good rhythm. The home crowd was supportive.
• Additionally, the Jets defense was beginning to tire – the only pressure they could generate was due to blitzing, and now that was not getting home either.
• We felt this may have been a good opportunity for CLE HC Hue Jackson to go for the fourth-and-2. Instead, he chose to punt, and the Jets began their possession on their own 12. The Browns caused a turnover and had first-and-goal on the Jets 8, and converted for three points.
• This is one of those decisions that could go either way; while we would have liked the Browns to stay aggressive at home with a QB who was finding a rhythm, Jackson’s decision proved well too.
Key Decision #2: (CLE ball, trailing 17-14 / first-and-10 CLE 25 / 8:56 Q4)
• This was the key drive of the game on offense for CLE.
• The Browns did an excellent job of staying aggressive with their play calls here; they caught the Jets in numerous blitzes, and it helped that this was a tired Jets team playing its third game in 11 days.
• Once Mayfield came in the game, CLE OC Todd Haley’s play calling became more assured, and the CLE offense started to show its potential.
• While a terrific victory for CLE, the Jets were a tired team playing its third game in 11 days, and being the road team on a Thursday night always is tough. So in considering Jets HC Todd Bowles’ grade, we are understanding of the lack of time and energy to game plan. Frankly, we felt this matchup favored CLE; they were playing at home and the teams are fairly evenly matched. The Jets played with heavy legs in the second half and it showed, and the Browns took advantage.
• The Jets actually did a good job in the first half of simply finding something and sticking to it until the Browns adjusted. On a scoring series, the Jets ran the ball continuously to the left with success, and the Browns did not adjust until the next series.
• The Browns have an opportunistic defense, and CB Denzel Ward appears to have a knack for causing turnovers.
• While successful, we did not like Browns HC Hue Jackson’s two-point attempt in the third quarter – simply far too early for our taste.
• Likewise, we did not like Jets HC Todd Bowles’ fourth-and-10 attempt trailing by four with 1:48 and three timeouts available to him. Even announcer Troy Aikman questioned that decision.
• CLE DC Gregg Williams continues to do a good job in his role. The Browns defense kept the game within reach with continuous stops. When gashed, he made the necessary adjustments, and while he likes to blitz, he stayed disciplined in crunch-time and only rushed four and played coverage and forced Jets rookie QB Sam Darnold to throw into tight windows.
• OC Todd Haley had an awful start for the Browns. His first-half play calling was subpar, but to be fair, QB Tyrod Taylor did not play with any energy. Haley performed much better upon the arrival of QB Baker Mayfield. Haley still has a penchant for gadget plays at just the wrong time in games, and he tried another one in this game. But he deserves credit for the game-winning drive as they were aggressive with their downfield plays; he showed confidence in his young players.