Myles Garrett Sam Darnold
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Due to the offensive line-pass rush matchup that features Myles Garrett, the New York Jets need Sam Darnold to be Superman in Cleveland.

Robby Sabo

  • New York Jets (1-1)
  • Cleveland Browns (0-1-1)
  • NFL, AFC, Week 3, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018, 8:20 p.m. ET, NFLN
  • FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio

It’s time for a little session of NFL storytime.

During the 2016 season, the Jacksonville Jaguars employed a left tackle by the name of Kelvin Beachum. They finished 22nd in the NFL in rushing with a moderate 101.9 yards per game.

One year later, the Jags booted Beachum to the side and drafted Cam Robinson in the second round of the NFL Draft. The only other change came in the form of Patrick Omameh taking over for Luke Joeckel at left guard and the result was stunning.


The Jags finished first in the NFL in rushing with a cool 141.1 yards per game.

Leonard Fournette, you cite (as the main ingredient for this boost)? While the LSU rook was solid in 2017, his 1,040 yards falls well short of the team total that was 2,262. Fournette wasn’t the main factor for the sudden skyrocket in production.

Though they finished last year with the best O-line in the league, the old-school mind of Tom Coughlin didn’t stop there. He signed stud Andrew Norwell in the offseason and now the Giants are struggling with the most recent Jags castoff (Omameh).

The New York Jets, of course, didn’t do anything upfront (save for the Spencer Long addition). And now, the rough part for the Jets is that Beachum is far from the only one not getting it done. James Carpenter is also struggling mightily. Spencer Long is nice when standing up yet rough on the ground. Brian Winters is powerful on the ground but tough when standing up. And Brandon Shell, the youngest of the group, is looking the best at the moment.

Suffice to say, all five members in combination have led to dreadful production from the team’s O-line. (The numbers aren’t terrible due to an unusual fracture of a Week 1 game and the young QB making things look much better.)

Sam Darnold will have to play quarterback as Superman would on Thursday night if the Jets want any chance of victory in Cleveland against the winless yet hungry Browns.

Injury Report

New York Jets

New York Jets

The story remains the same pertaining to the New York Jets injury report.

Out for the third-straight week is Josh Martin while No. 1 receiving tight end Neal Sterling will miss his second straight contest with a concussion. Despite Todd Bowles yet again giving Marcus Maye a shot to play, the Jets starting free safety is listed as doubtful.

Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Browns come into the game just as (if not more) banged up than the road squad.

The two big ones are linebacker Christian Kirksey who’s on track to miss due to a shoulder/ankle and wideout Jarvis Landry who’s listed as questionable with a knee. The Landry one is especially crucial due to the fact Josh Gordon was just shipped out of town.

Key Matchup

Jets O-Line vs. Browns Pass Rush

Listen, there really is only one matchup in this one. In fact, we already know the Cleveland Browns defensive line will dominate the Jets O-line. The only question remaining surrounds to what degree.

To at least some degree, Sam Darnold will have to play over-his-head, but the big heavies in front of him must give him a chance.

New York Jets

This Browns defense is for real. In the same sense the Jags defense is for real—a nasty conventional four-man pass rush that elevates the production and play of the second level and secondary—these Browns come to play.

This matchup is a scary proposition right now. Forget any other matchup. This one dominates all.

X-Factors

Sam Darnold

The title gives it away. Sam Darnold must play like Superman if the Jets want any chance of victory.

The Jets blowout victory over the Detroit Lions in Week 1 fooled so many onlookers. Immediately, they believed the O-line did a solid job of protecting Darnold.

That’s incorrect.

Look at the film. It was Darnold who made the O-line look at least average. His mobility, poise and awareness led to a much better outing for Rick Dennison’s bunch.

On Thursday, the youngest Week 1 starting quarterback since the merger will be ducking and juking the likes of Myles Garrett all night long. Can he get it done?

New York Jets Darron Lee
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Darron Lee

The Browns enter Week 3 ranked fourth in rushing with a crisp average of 135 yards per contest. Mix that with the Jets porous defensive effort in certain spots against the Miami Dolphins a week ago and Darron Lee must step up to the plate.

Week 1 allowed Lee to breathe just a bit, but honestly, what did he do? Matt Stafford threw the ball directly to him twice. Only When he consistently helps his run-stuffing partner (Demario Davis in 2017 and Avery Williamson now) shut down the rushing attack, the D-Lee haters will disappear.

He’ll have that chance when he takes on a pretty solid rushing attack in the Browns.

Prediction

The Cleveland Browns will win this game.

The more tape I watch, the more it’s evident that the Browns D-line will manhandle the Jets offensive front. Myles Garrett may finish with five sacks by himself—this is how scary it is.

Unless the Jets defense pitches a complete shutout and/or Sam Darnold plays like Phil Simms in Super Bowl 21, the hungry, snake-bitten Cleveland Browns will pick up their first win in such a long time by taking out the New York Jets on Thursday night.

Of course the Jets can win, but it’s going to be a tough one.

Cleveland Browns 26, New York Jets 17

New York Jets

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