CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The Browns fell to 0-5 for the fourth time since 1999 following a 17-14 loss to the Jets.
The franchise is now 1-20 since Hue Jackson took over as coach and the rebuild plan began in 2016 as well as an NFL-worst 2-30 over their last 32 games, 4-38 since beginning the 2014 season 7-4.
Here’s a tally of the good and bad from Sunday’s loss.
– Myles Garrett’s debut – On his first official regular season snap, Garrett blew by 3 Jets defenders up the middle and sacked Josh McCown for a loss of 8 to complete a 3-and-out on the opening offensive series for New York and force a punt. Garrett picked up his second sack on a third-and-8 from the Jets’ 16 with just under 2 minutes to play in the first half when he came around to get to McCown again. Garrett is the first Browns player to record multiple sacks in his NFL debut since defensive lineman Charles Buchanan had 2 1/2 in 1988. Garrett’s stat line: 2 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 QB hits (which are computed with sacks) and 2 tackles for loss. If he keeps it up, he’s going to make the rest of the team look bad.
– Run Game – The Browns totaled a season-high 140 yards on the ground Sunday. Isaiah Crowell got going on their third offensive series bursting for a 10-yard run and then a 16-yard run which followed a 21-yard pass to Ricardo Louis. Crowell failed to convert a critical fourth-and-1 1/2 from the 4-yard line with 13:03 left in the fourth quarter after the field goal unit was pulled off the field. Crowell ran 16 times for 60 yards against the Jets’ No. 29 ranked run defense. Duke Johnson gave the Browns life with 1:49 left in the game after scoring on a 41-yard catch and run on a pass from Hogan. Johnson finished with 20 yards on 6 carries and 3 catches for 63 yards.
The Box Score – The Browns dominated everywhere but on the scoreboard. They out-gained New York in net yards 419-212, passing 279-178, rushing 140-34, first downs 22-14 and third down efficiency 6-14 to 4-12 which is why Sunday’s loss was such a wasted opportunity.
– Jason McCourty – McCourty has been the best free agent addition this season. He finished the day with an interception, forced a fumble and broke up a pair of passes. McCourty has 2 interceptions and 2 forced fumbles this season.
– Red Zone turnovers – On their second offensive series the Browns ran an option on third-and-goal from the 3 that turned into a disaster. Kizer was charged with a fumble after pitching it to Crowell. Jets linebacker Freddie Bishop fell on the loose ball to thwart the scoring opportunity. With 3:13 left in the first half and the Browns driving, Kizer threw it right into the hands of Jets safety Marcus Maye while looking for tight end Seth DeValve. With 13:03 left in the fourth Jackson called timeout and pulled his field goal unit off the field on a fourth-and-1 1/2 at the Jets 4 but Crowell was stopped short and the Jets took over on downs. Eight plays and 97 yards later the Jets put the game on ice. Nine times this season the Browns have reached their opponent’s 30 and failed to get any points. The drives have resulted in 5 turnovers, 2 missed field goals and 2 turnovers on downs. That’s how you go 0-5.
– The coaching – Hue Jackson coached desperate Sunday. The quarterback option inside the 10 that resulted in a DeShone Kizer fumble on the pitch to Crowell, which was recovered by the Jets, was Kizer’s decision after checking into that play. Jackson benched Kizer to start the second half after pledging to ride out the good and bad with the rookie QB from Notre Dame this season. Jackson has now created a quarterback controversy, which is the last thing the team needed, in an effort to find a spark – any spark. Jackson also went for it on fourth-and-short from the Jets 4 instead of kicking a chip-shot field goal to tie it at 10 early in the fourth quarter. New York marched 97 yards and put the game away with Josh McCown’s second TD toss of the day. That decision loomed large after Johnson’s 41-yard TD catch with less than 2-minutes to play that would’ve tied the game.
– Penalties – Right tackle Shon Coleman was flagged 3 times – 1 of them for illegal hands to the face to set up a first and 20. Rookie safety Jabrill Peppers was hit with a roughing the passer penalty on a third-and 11 to give the Jets a first down after going too high on McCown. In total Cleveland was flagged 6 times for 60 yards but those flags came at the worst times, then again they never come at a good time.
– Zane Gonzalez – Gonzalez, last year’s Lou Groza award winner as college football’s best kicker, missed a 52-yard attempt wide-left keeping the Browns’ lead-less streak going. He then missed a 39-yard try wide left again with :38 left in the half. Jackson actually pulled the field goal team with 13:03 to play in the fourth, electing to run on fourth-and-short, which resulted in a turnover on downs. Gonzalez is 2-5 on field goal attempts this season and simply put, he cost the Browns their first victory of 2017 by missing the 2 kicks and making Jackson think twice about sending him out there early in the fourth.