Browns can end backslide - and road woes - vs. Jets
The Sports Xchange
NFL Team Report - Cleveland Browns - INSIDE SLANT
The Browns play the New York Jets in MetLife Stadium on Sunday, and then for the second straight year close out the season in Pittsburgh.
Cornerback Joe Haden, one of the Browns' few standouts during the four losing seasons he has endured in the NFL, suffered a hip pointer against the Chicago Bears in the 38-31 loss last week. He does not know whether he'll recover in time to play the Jets. He did not practice Wednesday.
"If I can play, I'm going to play," Haden said. "If I can't, I won't. So I would love to definitely finish out the season and play. But I'm not going to go out there if I'm not ready or if I'm going to hurt the team in any way."
Haden gave up a 41-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Brown in the 27-11 loss to the Steelers on Nov. 24, the 20-yard game-winning touchdown pass to Cecil Shorts III in the 32-28 loss to the Jaguars a week later and a two-yard pass to New England wide receiver Julian Edelman on Dec. 8. He was beaten on a five-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Marshall before being injured last week.
Haden is still the best cornerback on the roster. Julian Posey would get more playing time if Haden cannot play. If Haden has to stay behind and watch the game on television he obviously can't do anything to halt the losing streak.
"It's very disappointing, very disappointing, especially when you have a team that you know that can win," Haden said. "It's frustrating, but you always try to stay positive, you always try to look ahead and we still have two more games left. We just got to finish the season off strong.
"We don't want to go into next offseason with this bad a taste in our mouths. At least go into it going up. Everybody do their job. Just try to win these last two however we can."
The Browns lost fourth-quarter leads in each of the last three games. The Patriots scored 16 points in the fourth quarter a week before the Bears scored 21 in the fourth.
Throughout the locker room players say the same thing; if they knew what was wrong they'd fix it.
The Jets are in a similar situation. At 6-8 they have a better record than the Browns, but they are out of the playoff hunt, too. They could be playing for coach Rex Ryan's job.
"I wish I had an answer for you guys about what's happening at the end of games or what it is," Browns linebacker Paul Kruger said. "But we're a good football team, we're playing with everybody. We should have beaten the Patriots. The Bears game was tough to lose. We need to figure how to finish it off right."
SERIES HISTORY: 21st meeting. Browns lead the series, 12-8. Four games between the Browns and Jets have gone into overtime, including a playoff game the Browns won in double overtime. Overall the Browns are 3-1 in those overtime games.
NFL Team Report - Cleveland Browns - NOTES, QUOTES
The Browns last played the Jets on Nov. 14, 2010 and lost, 26-20, in overtime. The game was played near the end of Eric Mangini's two-year tenure as the Browns' head coach. It was a tough loss for him to absorb because he was beaten by the previous team that fired him.
The Browns forced overtime on a three-yard touchdown pass from Colt McCoy to Mohamed Massaquoi with only 44 seconds left in regulation. Santonio Holmes scored the winning touchdown on a 37-yard pass from Mark Sanchez with only 16 seconds left in the overtime.
--The Browns and Jets played the first Monday Night Football game in old Cleveland Stadium on Sept. 21, 1970. A crowd of 85,703 saw the Browns win, 31-21.
--The Browns and Jets are both bad road teams. The Browns are 1-5 on the road this season and the Jets are 1-6. The Jets, however, are a different team at home, where they are 5-2.
--Jets tight end Kellen Winslow was the Browns' first-round draft choice in 2004. He caught only five passes as a rookie because his leg was broken and ankle ligaments were torn covering an onside kick in the second game. He missed all of 2005 because of a motorcycle accident. He caught 89 passes in 2006 and in 2007 he caught 82 for 1,106 yards and five touchdowns.
The most notable aspect of drafting Winslow is the Browns passed on Ben Roethlisberger to take him.
BY THE NUMBERS: 128 - Points allowed by the Browns in the fourth quarter this season. That is almost as much as what they've allowed in the first quarter (60) and third quarter (70) combined.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "You have to make the plays at the right time. That's on me and on other guys, all of us really. We've got to do it when it really matters." - Browns linebacker Paul Kruger.
NFL Team Report - Cleveland Browns - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
First-year player Julian Posey will get increased playing time if starting cornerback Joe Haden cannot play on Sunday against the Jets.
Posey made two tackles and had a half-sack of Bears quarterback Jay Cutler in the last game, but he also along with safety Tashaun Gipson was covering Alshon Jeffery when Jeffery caught a 45-yard touchdown pass to tie the score, 24-24.
"You can't replace Joe Haden," Posey said. "I'm my own man, I have my own skills and I have my own talents and abilities and my style's different. It's kind of like Kung-Fu. He's praying mantis. I may be crouching tiger. So it's kind of like that."
Posey was on the Browns practice squad from Sept. 2 until he was promoted to the 53-man roster on Dec. 3.
-- TE Jordan Cameron has concussion and did not practice Wednesday.
-- CB Joe Haden missed practice with a hip pointer suffered in the game against the Bears.
-- LG John Greco is unable to practice because of a knee injury sustained in the New England game on Dec. 8.
-- TE Andre Smith was held out of practice with a calf injury.
-- LB Eric Martin missed practice with an illness.
-- LB D'Qwell Jackson (ankle) was limited
-- LT Joe Thomas (back) was limited.
-- RB Willis McGahee (head, knee) was limited Wednesday, but has been cleared to resume practicing.
-- DE Ahtyba Rubin (calf) was limited.
--TE Gary Barnidge is getting some snaps with the first offense this week as Jordan Cameron goes through the concussion program.
--CB Chris Owens was waived from injured reserve on Tuesday. He signed a one-year contract as a free agent last winter after four seasons with the Falcons. He played in 12 games and started three for the Browns. He made 54 tackles and had 2.5 sacks.
GAME PLAN: The Browns will focus on stopping the run first with their front seven and mix their coverages to try and confuse Jets rookie QB Geno Smith into mistakes downfield. Offensively, the Browns can't rely on consistent production from the ground game, leaving QB Jason Campbell in long passing situations. While he does push the field vertically to WR Josh Gordon, Campbell still is quick to check down.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Browns FS Tashaun Gipson vs. Jets QB Geno Smith. Smith has thrown 21 interceptions, second in the NFL only to the 25 thrown by Eli Manning. Gipson has the best hands in the secondary. He intercepted two passes last week and returned one for a touchdown.
Browns right tackle Mitchell Schwartz vs. LDE Muhammad Wilkerson: Wilkerson leads the Jets with 10 sacks. Schwartz is under a microscope because the front office isn't enamored with him. This game is his chance to show he should be part of the plan for 2014.