Jets not taking hungry, still-winless Browns lightly
By DENNIS WASZAK Jr., AP Pro Football Writer
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — Jamal Adams and the Jets are well aware of the struggles going on in Cleveland.
They know the Browns are still looking for their first win since 2016, and New York isn’t taking them lightly. If anything, the Jets consider their opponents Thursday night a dangerous, if not desperate, bunch.
“They’re definitely out there to get their first win,” Adams said Tuesday, “so we’ve got to come out with our ‘A’ game.”
The Jets are 1-1 after a convincing victory in their opener last Monday night in Detroit was followed by a mistake-filled performance Sunday in a loss to Miami .
This will be the third game in 11 days for New York, and a big-time test for rookie quarterback Sam Darnold. The No. 3 overall pick was solid in his regular-season debut, but was up-and-down in the home opener. He’ll face a Gregg Williams-led defense that will throw lots of looks and pressure Darnold’s way.
“I think every team in the NFL is dangerous,” Darnold said. “Every team on every given week has a chance to win, that’s how I’m looking at it. I’m really looking at it as just the next opponent. What does that defense do that poses a problem for us? Or, what can we do to pose a problem for them, is kind of how I look at it just scheme-wise.”
The Browns are 0-1-1 after a tie with Pittsburgh in their opener and a three-point loss to New Orleans on Sunday . They could easily be 2-0 but instead remain winless since Dec. 24, 2016, against the Chargers.
A lot of faces have changed on the roster since then, with quarterback Tyrod Taylor, wide receiver Jarvis Landry and running back Carlos Hyde among them on offense.
“We know they have a good team,” Jets coach Todd Bowles said. “It’s the NFL. We don’t look at anybody’s record. We just play week by week. We’re expecting a tough game and I know that we’re going to get one.”
All the Jets need to do is look at last season, when the Browns led their Week 5 matchup 7-3 in the third quarter before New York took a late lead and held on for a 17-14 win.
“I mean, even when we played them last year, it was a dogfight,” defensive end Leonard Williams said. “Coach just reiterated that. We know they have an explosive offense and they have some pieces on defense as well.”
There are definite challenges the short work week poses for teams, including breaking the routine and having to cram a game plan into a few days rather than having the usual several days.
“It’s about just getting your bodies right, getting mentally sharp and just getting prepared for that game,” Adams said. “It’s a big game, Thursday night, everybody’s watching, so when the lights come on, you’ve definitely got to shine.”
The coaches and players have to work around those limitations and time constraints, along with having to travel.
Williams also stressed that the players’ “professionalism” needs to kick in during these few days leading up to the game.
“What I mean by that is we need to do more than just what we do here on a short week,” he said. “We have to be able to go home and study film at home and be able to stay after with certain guys and work on stuff on our own, and not just rely on the time scheduled that we have here.”
The Jets have of course been focusing on Taylor. Many Jets defenders have played against him several times and can lean on their experiences against him when he was in Buffalo.
But that doesn’t make things any easier to prepare for the way he can routinely make plays with arm and his legs.
“Honestly, containing him, that’s the difficult thing,” Adams said. “Other than that, man, he has a hell of an arm that people don’t give him enough credit for. He’s an outstanding player, very smart, he’s a vet. He’ll be a tough challenge for us.”
Williams added that the key for the defensive line and the linebackers is to collapse the pocket around Taylor and consistently put pressure on him.
“Try your hardest to make him one-dimensional,” he said, “just a passing quarterback instead of trying to beat you with both.”
Taylor has helped the Browns’ running game look impressive early, ranking fourth in the NFL while averaging 135 yards per game. Hyde has 105 yards and two touchdowns on 38 carries, while Taylor has rushed for 103 yards and a score on just 12 attempts. Nick Chubb (five carries, 35 yards) and Duke Johnson (eight carries, 20 yards) give Cleveland several options in the backfield.
“The run is going to be something that we’re going to have to stop early on so that the play-action pass and things like that aren’t in play,” Williams said. “Guys up front, we’re going to put it on our backs to try to stop the run as soon as possible.”
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