Editor's note: Tony Grossi covers the Cleveland Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR.
Instant takeaways from Cleveland Browns’ 31-28 loss to the New York Jets …
1. Streak continues: So much attention is routinely focused on the Browns’ crazy quarterback situation that the worsening defense mostly flies under radar. So when Josh McCown made his return to the field on Sunday, it was assumed the veteran quarterback would give the Browns their best chance at their first win. But there’s that defensive problem that won’t go away – namely, embarrassingly shoddy tackling. McCown was effective in his first game back, but the defense blew a 20-7 lead. The New York Jets scored on their first three possessions in the second half and held on for a 31-28 win. Jets quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who was awful the first half, led touchdown possessions of 78, 84 and 81 yards against a Browns defense that resembled the one that got chewed out by Hue Jackson in the fourth quarter last week in Cincinnati. The rally began when Jets receiver Quincy Enunwa broke four tackles en route to a 24-yard touchdown on the Jets’ first series. Enunwa later had a 57-yard reception on another scoring drive. The loss was the Browns’ eighth in a row, one off their expansion era record for a season, and 12th over two years. It also kept McCown winless in 385 days as a Browns starting quarterback. The Jets are 3-5.
2. Rust free: It didn’t take long for McCown to shake off the rust of a six-week layoff. He connected with tight end Gary Barnidge on a vertical seam route on the very first play for 32 yards, igniting a 4-for-6 passing series that resulted in a touchdown on a 5-yard connection with Andrew Hawkins while flushing to his right. On their third series, Hue Jackson inserted Kevin Hogan for a few read-option plays, which didn’t work. Hogan came in for a third in the second quarter. The Browns gained a total of 1 yard on the three Hogan plays, two of which were completed passes.
3. Worn down: McCown’s day got worse the longer the game went on. His 228 passing yards in the first half were the most for a Browns quarterback since a Bernie Kosar game in 1986. After the half, however, McCown had 113 yards and two interceptions. The two picks came in the span of three passes in the fourth quarter. McCown got 82 yards on a late touchdown drive with the Jets playing deep zone. A completion to Terrelle Pryor on the two-point conversion set up an onside kick, which the Jets recovered. The best you could say is McCown escaped with all collarbones intact.
4. Corner Bros.: Starting cornerbacks Joe Haden and Jamar Taylor each was limited during the practice week with groin injuries. Haden made his first appearance after missing two games and Taylor also answered the bell. Together they defensed four Ryan Fitzpatrick passes in the first half, Taylor getting his hands on three alone intended for receiver Robby Anderson.
5. Club Nasty: Rookie defensive end Carl Nassib is starting to get a feel for playing with his broken left hand protected by a wrap. He rejected Ryan Fitzpatrick passes three times at the line of scrimmage in the first half. So those three rejections and the breakups by Taylor and Haden accounted for seven of Fitzpatrick’s 11 incompletions in 14 pass attempts in the half. But that changed in a hurry in the third quarter. On two possessions after the intermission, Fitzpatrick was 8 of 12 for 136 yards and 1 TD in leading the Jets to two scores and a 21-20 lead. The drives covered 78 and 84 yards.
6. Original Dawgs: Weekend festivities honoring the 1986 Browns team concluded during the game. Prior to the game, the video boards replayed the original NBC broadcast of the Browns’ 23-20 double overtime victory over the Jets in and AFC playoff game. After the first series, Marty Schottenheimer, coach of that 12-win team, led the “Here we go, Brownies, woof, woof” chant over the video boards. At halftime, Schottenheimer was interviewed on the field and spoke to the crowd. ESPNCleveland.com reported this week that Schottenheimer has been diagnosed with Early-onset Alzheimer’s. Pat Schottenheimer’ Marty’s wife, wanted him to participate, and he was great.