QB shuf­fle con­tin­ues for reel­ing Jets, Browns

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By Will Graves

The old guys are un­der cen­ter for the Browns and the Jets, aware they’re not part of the fu­ture. So Josh McCown and Ryan Fitz­patrick will do what they can to save the present when the Jets visit Cleveland.

The old guys are back un­der cen­ter for the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets, aware they’re not part of the fu­ture.

So Josh McCown and Ryan Fitz­patrick will do what they can to save the present on Sun­day when the Jets (2-5) visit star-crossed Cleveland (0-7).

New York coach Todd Bowles benched the 33-yearold Fitz­patrick after the vet­eran threw 11 in­ter­cep­tions while lead­ing the Jets to a woe­ful 1-5 start.

Geno Smith stepped in with his first start since the 2014 sea­son fi­nale and didn’t even last a half, go­ing down with a knee in­jury in the sec­ond quar­ter against Bal­ti­more.

With Smith be­ing placed on in­jured re­serve with a torn an­te­rior cru­ci­ate lig­a­ment, it’s back to Fitz­patrick. For now at least.

“I guess you never say never in the NFL,” Fitz­patrick said. “You just don’t know what’s go­ing to hap­pen. It was a dif­fi­cult week for me and I said that to (the me­dia) and said that to my team­mates and ev­ery­body, but that’s be­hind us.

“It’s over. No­body in this league feels sorry for you.”

The Jets cer­tainly won’t get any sym­pa­thy from Cleveland, which has seen the ha­bit­u­ally re­volv­ing door at quar­ter­back speed up at an al­most com­i­cal rate. Two months into the sea­son, 49 play­ers have at­tempted at least nine passes. Six of them are Browns. Yes, six. No other team has used more than three.

And now the job goes back to the 37-year-old McCown, who re­turns for the first time since break­ing his col­lar­bone in a Week 2 loss to Bal­ti­more. McCown re­places rookie Cody Kessler, who is deal­ing with a con­cus­sion sus­tained in last week’s loss to Cincin­nati.

“If (McCown) is out there, it means he is the best guy stand­ing right now,” Browns coach Hue Jack­son said. “Will it be a boost? It is a boost just to have any of our quar­ter­backs play­ing right now.”

“Ev­ery­body wants to talk about the in­ter­cep­tions,” Jack­son said of Fitz­patrick. “That hap­pens some­times. Peo­ple go through that. I think he has got­ten him­self back up­right, and play­ing and knows what to do and how to do it. “He is a big chal­lenge.” Other things to look for as Cleveland tries to avoid its worst start in 31 years against New York and it’s on again/off again/ on again bearded quar­ter­back:


After en­ter­ing last Sun­day tied for 31st in the NFL with four take­aways, the Jets’ de­fense got two in­ter­cep­tions — on con­sec­u­tive Ravens pos­ses­sions. Mar­cus Wil­liams had the only other two in­ter­cep­tions this sea­son, and they came in the first two games.

New York is now tied for 26th in the league in de­fen­sive take­aways. That’s after the Jets fin­ished tied for third in the league with 30 over­all in 2015.

“We strug­gled early on to force turnovers as a de­fense, but we’re known to force turnovers,” cor­ner­back Dar­relle Re­vis said. “We were one of the top de­fenses in the league last year.

“Once one comes, they start com­ing in bunches.”


For all the hand-wring­ing over the quar­ter­back sit­u­a­tion in Cleveland, the big­ger is­sue with the Browns is the other side of the ball. Cleveland has given up 400 yards or more five times al­ready and ranks 30th in yards al­lowed and points al­lowed.

Jack­son be­came so in­fu­ri­ated while watch­ing the Ben­gals race up and down the field last week on their way to 559 yards in a 31-17 Cincin­nati win he reamed out the de­fense and spent the fi­nal min­utes of the game with his head­set off in dis­gust.


Matt Forte shook off an early-sea­son slump to show he’s still got some moves with the foot­ball. The Jets run­ning back rushed for 100 yards and a touch­down on 30 car­ries against the Ravens, who en­tered as the No. 1 rush de­fense. It was his sec­ond 100-yard game with New York and he also caught a TD pass, his first as a mem­ber of the Jets.

After a solid start with 196 yards and three touch­downs on 52 car­ries in his first two games, Forte ran for just 164 yards and no TDs on 50 car­ries in the four games that fol­lowed.

“Whether it’s run­ning or catch­ing the ball, it doesn’t mat­ter if I get 30, 25, 20 (touches) or what­ever it is or how­ever it shakes out,” Forte said. “I’m just try­ing to get pos­i­tive yards, keep the chains mov­ing, score touch­downs so we can score points and let our de­fense do what they do.”


The lat­est it­er­a­tion of the Browns has made the playoffs once since the fran­chise’s re­turn in 1999. It will pay trib­ute to bet­ter days when it hon­ors the 1986 team that went 12-4 and reached the AFC cham­pi­onship game.

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