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Browns Defense, Special Teams Share Blame in Embarrassing Loss to Jets

Offensive standout performances against the New York Jets were ultimately rendered somewhat meaningless because of the defensive and special teams units for the Cleveland Browns.
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The Cleveland Browns offense had a number of standout performances, which shouldn't be a surprise as that side of the ball carried this team to what could have been a victory. Unfortunately, there are three phases of the game and the Browns simply weren't good enough on the other two to maintain the lead, resulting in one of the most embarrassing late-game collapses in NFL history.

Standouts

Just like last week, 14 points came as a result of busted coverages. The Jets scored a touchdown late in the first half when Michael Carter II was completely uncovered out of the backfield despite the Browns having eight in coverage. Denzel Ward was lined up over the receiver and looked like he should've taken Carter, but opted to stay with the inside receiver despite having two defenders inside of him for help.

Painful, but not fatal. After the Browns scored the touchdown to give them a 30-17 lead, Flacco was able to find Corey Davis wide open for a 66-yard touchdown. Fans in the stadium were closer to him than any Browns defensive back.

The Browns played two-high in a basic quarters look. For whatever reason, Ward stands pat waiting for Tyler Conklin to attack the flat and go up the seam on the boundary. The safety, Grant Delpit, is supposed to keep up the inside seam, which is Corey Davis. Instead, he goes to the middle of the field and Corey Davis goes uncovered.

The Browns tried to run a number of different blitzes and coverage concepts. Some worked well, but Flacco was never confused. Instead, too often the Browns defense was chaotic and had players running around not knowing what they were doing.

There were multiple situations where players were calling each other out for missed assignment, which prompts a number of questions.

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Is this a player to player communication issue?

Is it the defensive play caller being unclear or simply too slow for players to relay calls and get aligned correctly?

Are players just not doing the jobs they are prescribed, which boils down to alignment and assignment?

The Browns defense got their share of stops this game, but most of them required the Jets to make a mistake, often a drop.

The bottom line is it took a miracle for the Browns to avoid losing to the Carolina Panthers for as a result of the same issues. Whatever the issue is, the Browns must get to the bottom of it immediately or the season could be over before November. Should that happen, fairly or not, the expectation will be that heads roll on the coaching staff because they aren't going to get rid of players they are so heavily invested.

Special Teams

The Cleveland Browns special teams, a unit, which has finished bottom five each of the past two seasons, once again finds itself on the losing end of this game. The New York Jets were clearly the superior unit in this matchup and were critical in enabling them to come away with the victory.

The Jets converted a fake punt which was part of a touchdown drive and recovered an onside kick, which cleared the way for the game-winning touchdown. On the fake punt, the corner fell down allowing an easy completion from the punter to the gunner. Cade York, a hero last week, missed an extra point this week. It proved the difference between it being a 31-31 game, likely going to overtime versus a loss.

The Browns did get some positive contributions from punter Corey Bojorquez and Jerome Ford as a kick returner. Demetric Felton had a better day this week returning punts but still made everyone nervous when the ball came loose on his final return. Fortunately, he was already down.