Josh Gordon's five-game touchdown streak was broken, but he led all receivers with 97 yards on six catches.
A silver lining for Browns fans is that at least the team didn't hurt its draft position by winning.
|Cleveland Browns Grades|
|Positional Unit||First-Half Grade||Final Grade|
|Week 16 vs. Jets|
Final Analysis for Cleveland
Pass Offense: A combination of poor throws and multiple drops are the takeaways from this game for the Browns passing offense. When quarterback Jason Campbell did decide on throwing to a target, he was often well off the mark. Greg Little and Josh Gordon produced key situational drops, which included a miss in the end zone for Little.
With tight end Jordan Cameron out with a concussion, the Browns struggled to find a secondary target to Gordon. Credit Josh Cooper for making some clutch grabs on a 4th-and-1, as well as a first down, but he was hardly the difference-maker this club desperately needed.
Campbell finished an atrocious afternoon with zero touchdowns, one interception and 178 passing yards for a passer rating of 48.9.
Tight end MarQueis Gray even attempted a pass on what would be Cleveland’s final drive of the afternoon. It was picked off by safety Ed Reed.
Run Offense: Edwin Baker persevered and did well overall against the NFL’s third-ranked run defense. The speedy RB averaged a solid 3.8 yards per carry on 64 yards and a rushing touchdown for the second straight game.
However, most of the time when the Jets wanted to stop the ground attack, they did. The Browns couldn’t pound the rock in from the 2-yard line on one failed red-zone drive and outside of the single score didn’t do much harm to New York.
Pass Defense: Coming into this game, Browns defensive backs had to be salivating at the chance to go up against New York’s rookie quarterback and his 21 interceptions. After a slow first half, Geno Smith lit up and looked like an elite signal-caller as he convincingly marched the Jets downfield for two passing touchdowns and ran one in, as well.
Wide receiver David Nelson burned the Browns, who cut him training camp, for a pair of scores. Cleveland’s pass coverage over the middle continues to be a major liability as Smith picked it apart for 214 yards through the air and had a 91.7 passer rating.
On a day when the secondary wanted to make a statement, it fell flat. The pass rush was ineffective as it was unable to record a sack or a quarterback hit. A terrible day for what is supposed to be a top-10 defense.
Run Defense: Cleveland did a decent job of containing stud running back Chris Ivory for most of the first half, but in the final two quarters, he exploded. Ivory rumbled for 109 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry (above his season average of 4.5) and had a long gallop of 28.
Arguably the biggest difference-maker on the ground for New York was quarterback Geno Smith. The rookie got much more comfortable using his legs to make plays in the second half and burned the Browns at will. This included a backbreaking 17-yard rushing touchdown in the fourth.
Special Teams: Fozzy Whittaker returned a kick for 50 yards and Jordan Poyer hustled back a punt for 29 yards. It was nice to see some above-average returns on special teams without Travis Benjamin. Kicker Billy Cundiff converted a pair of chip-shot field goals for 27 and 21 yards, respectively.
Coaching: Tough to blame the coaches on this one. Jason Campbell was indecisive and erratic at quarterback and there were multiple drops by receivers. Head coach Rob Chudzinski was the right blend of aggressive when needed and was 1-of-2 on fourth-down attempts.
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton needs to give his head a shake and his entire group a stern talking to. Something is not right in what once looked like an upper-tier defense.
First-Half Analysis for Cleveland
Pass Offense: A terrible start for quarterback Jason Campbell as the offense went three-and-out on their first series. On that drive, Campbell missed a wide-open Josh Cooper, who was standing all alone, which would have likely gone for a first down. However, Cooper and Campbell did get into a rhythm as Cooper caught a 4th-and-1 and converted a first down all in the first frame.
It’s hard to picture Greg Little as a part of this Browns team next season. Little’s history of drops reared its ugly head once again as No. 18 let an end-zone ball bobble off of his fingertips. Cleveland ended up having to settle for a field goal.
Josh Gordon ran a beautiful route for a 24-yard gain on rookie corner Dee Milliner at the end of the first quarter. In the second, Gordon was alone running a slant over the middle and simply dropped the ball. Big No. 12 also couldn’t haul in a pair of passes at the back of the end zone with the Browns on New York’s 2-yard line.
Run Offense: New York displayed early on why it is the third-ranked run defense in the NFL. However, as the second quarter wore on, the Browns were able to chip away in large part due to Campbell scrambling for 21 yards and a perfectly executed reverse toss to Gordon that went for 22 yards.
Edwin Baker was the primary carrier as he was handed the rock 10 times for 29 yards and scored Cleveland’s first rushing touchdown on the road this season.
Pass Defense: On New York’s first offensive series, cornerback Buster Skrine left the game temporarily with a back injury, but did return.
Solid man-to-man coverage for the majority of the half kept rookie quarterback Geno Smith off-balance and needing to either throw it away or scramble on numerous occasions. Smith did cap off an 80-yard touchdown drive with a throw David Nelson (who was in Cleveland during training camp) within the final two minutes of the half.
The Browns defense completely collapsed during two late second-quarter drives by the Jets. Whether passing the ball, running it himself or handing it off, Cleveland made Geno Smith look like Tom Brady in those final minutes.
Run Defense: Jets star running back Chris Ivory came into this Week 16 battle averaging 4.5 yards per carry. He was largely contained until the last seven minutes of the second quarter. Ivory rumbled for a long of 21 and 45 total yards on the ground.
The Browns could not stop, or catch, Geno Smith when he decided to use his feet. He scampered for 26 yards and a large portion of those came on a pair of offensive series in the last three minutes of the half.
Huge stop for an 11-yard loss by Barkevious Mingo on a reverse trick play by New York to Saalim Hakim.
Special Teams: The Browns stopped a fake punt attempt by New York on the Jets’ first drive of the game. In fairness, it was more the Jets’ terrible execution of the play than Cleveland shutting it down. Billy Cundiff nailed a 27-yard field goal in the first quarter and punter Spencer Lanning was his usual reliable self. Kick returner Fozzy Whittaker and punt returner Jordan Poyer did a whole lot of nothing running back the ball.
Coaching: Head coach Rob Chudzinski matched Rex Ryan's fourth-down attempt as Chud went for it on 4th-and-1 in the opening frame. A gutsy call to have Campbell heave the ball to receiver Josh Cooper and he converted to keep the drive alive.
With the offense yet again failing to execute inside the red zone, Chudzinksi rolled the dice on the Jets 2-yard line on fourth down. Josh Gordon was unable to get control of the ball before he stumbled out of bounds on the try. On Cleveland’s three trips to the red zone it came away with only 10 points.
Andy McNamara is an international sports broadcaster and journalist
Follow Andy on Twitter @AndyMc81