Hard to believe now, but Joe Flacco was 17-3 against the Browns with the Baltimore Ravens. He's 37 now and hasn't won a start since 2019. (New York Post)
Cleveland Browns scouting report: New York Jets
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Editor's note: Tony Grossi is an analyst on the Cleveland Browns for TheLandOnDemand.com and 850 ESPN Cleveland. He has covered the Browns since 1984.
Browns v. New York Jets
Sunday, 1 p.m., in FirstEnergy Stadium
Last game: Lost to Baltimore Ravens, 24-9, Sept. 11, in Baltimore.
Coach: Robert Saleh, 4-14, second year.
Series record: Browns lead, 14-13.
Last meeting: Jets won, 23-16, Dec. 27, 2020, in New Jersey.
League rankings: Offense is 14th overall (21st rushing, sixth passing), defense is eight overall (third rushing, 14th passing) and turnover differential is minus-1.
Things to watch
1. Hard to tell who had a worse opening game – the Jets’ offense or the Jets’ offensive coordinator. Mike LaFleur, brother of Packers head coach Matt LaFleur, had replacement quarterback Joe Flacco drop back to pass 62 times – by far the highest number in NFL Week 1. The Jets trailed only by 10-3 at halftime, yet LeFleur called pass plays on 40 of 44 offensive snaps in the second half.
2. Flacco, 37, has not won a game as a starter since Oct. 13, 2019, with Denver. And he didn’t throw a touchdown pass in that 16-0 Denver win. Since then, he is 0-8, the last six losses coming with the Jets. Not surprisingly, Jets fans are clamoring for No. 3 QB Mike White, who became an instant fan favorite last season after throwing for 405 yards in a 34-31 win over the future AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals in his first start. He was a true Cinderella story as he went 0-2 after the clock struck midnight. White is not expected to get the call against the Browns, but he could come in if Flacco has a bad first half.
3. Exposing the immobile Flacco to 62 pass drop-backs against the Ravens was even more crazy when you consider the state of the offensive line. They lost franchise tackle Mekhi Becton for the season in the first week of training camp, picked up veteran Duane Brown, then lost Brown to a shoulder injury after seven practices. So the tackle positions now are manned by George Fant (left) and rookie Max Mitchell (right). Against the Ravens, Flacco was sacked three times, hit 11 times overall and was pressured 19 times.
4. The Jets do have some playmakers on offense, including running back Michael Carter, receivers Corey Davis and rookie Garrett Wilson, and slot receiver Braxton Berrios.
5. When head coach Robert Saleh was defensive coordinator with the 49ers, Joe Woods was his secondary coach. The defensive front is the Jets’ strength. Tackle Quinnen Williams and end Carl Lawson lead a front that is eight-deep. Saleh rotates freely to keep his front fresh. The secondary features a talented cornerback duo in D.J. Hall and first-round rookie Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner. The safeties had a tough game against Lamar Jackson, giving up three touchdown passes. But the defense did hold the Ravens to 63 yards rushing.
Did you know … ?
1. The Jets haven’t made the playoffs since 2010 under coach Rex Ryan. They have had only one winning season since then. They went 10-6 in 2015 under coach Todd Bowles.
2. Jets GM Joe Douglas has made seven first-round picks in his four drafts. They are defensive tackle Quinnen Williams in 2019; offensive tackle Mekhi Becton in 2020; quarterback Zach Wilson and offensive lineman Alijah Vera-Tucker in 2021; and cornerback Ahmad “Sauce” Gardner, receiver Garrett Wilson and defensive end Jermaine Johnson in 2022. Overall, the Jets had a top five pick in four of the last five drafts.
3. In his career with the Baltimore Ravens, Joe Flacco was 17-3 against the Browns from 2008 to 2017. Only Ben Roethlisberger had a better record vs. the Browns in that time.
4. Greg Zuerlein is the Jets’ ninth place-kicker in seven seasons. He missed a 45-yard field goal and a PAT in the first game.
5. In his NFL debut, former Ohio State receiver Garrett Wilson had four receptions (on eight targets) for 52 yards, with a long of 19 yards.
6. Coach Robert Saleh sounded like Mike Holmgren (circa 2011) on Monday when he scolded critics of the Jets’ slow progress in turning around their fortunes. “I know it's going to happen,” Saleh said, “and we're all taking receipts on all the people who continually mock and say that we're not going to do anything. I'm taking receipts and I'm going to be more than happy to share them with all of you when all is said and done.” Saleh also admitted the challenge of improving the Jets has been “exhausting.”
7. Saleh was the runner-up to Kevin Stefanski in the Browns head coach search after they fired Freddie Kitchens in 2020.
8. Quarterback Zach Wilson, the No. 2 overall pick of the 2021 draft, is still 2-3 weeks from returning from arthroscopic knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus suffered in preseason.
Small world: Offensive coordinator Mike LaFleur was a Browns offensive intern under Kyle Shanahan in 2014 … Senior football advisor Phil Savage was Browns general manager 2005-08 and was a defensive assistant and scout 1991-95 … Situational football/game management coordinator Dan Shamash was an offensive assistant for the Browns 2009-10 … Senior regional scout Johnathan Stigall was a scout for the Browns 2010-13.