Odell Beckham Jr. and the New York Jets…so crazy it just might work?

The last thing the New York Jets need is a distraction, but the new offensive era could use an established top option at receiver.

Odell Beckham Jr.’s time working with the resurrection of one downtrodden franchise could be coming to an end. Could he assist in a new one via a return to East Rutherford?

A report from Jeff Howe of The Athletic hints that the Cleveland Browns could be moving on from the former New York Giant, who has failed to match the hype that surrounded 2019’s blockbuster trade that led to a blue-to-orange makeover. Beckham earned 1,035 yards in his first season in Cuyahoga County but an ACL injury limited him to only seven games of Cleveland’s first playoff run since 2002. He missed the first two games of this season while recovering from last year’s injury and earned 77 yards in his debut against Chicago, but has earned only 47 on four catches (10 targets) over the past two games. In that time, Cleveland’s aerial efforts have been headlined by David Njoku, Rashard Higgins, and Donovan Peoples-Jones.

There’s no guarantee that Cleveland (3-2) will ship Beckham off; the Browns earn back no cap relief if they trade him now and would save $15 million against the cap if they release him over the offseason. But a commodity like Beckham could fetch them a fine prize before the Nov. 2 trade deadline.

Should the New York Jets inquire?

At first glance, Beckham is perhaps the last thing this chapter of the Jets’ perpetual rebuild needs: they couldn’t avoid the temptation of Le’Veon Bell but stepping out of the Deshaun Watson/Antonio Brown sweepstakes turned out to be the right move. Sure, Brown won a Super Bowl, but he was part of a team effort in Tampa Bay that also featured the talents of Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Rob Gronkowski, Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette…and, of course, the immortal Tom Brady.

But perhaps that’s what the Jets need: established talent in the skill position as they attempt to open a new, lasting era under center.

Even with the lack of early returns in the win column, it’s hard to quarrel with the Jets’ offseason yields. For a team that went 2-14 the year before, a spring haul of Corey Davis, Keelan Cole, and draft pick Elijah Moore (not to mention retaining Jamison Crowder on a far more affordable deal) was like winning the gridiron lottery.

Each was armed with something to prove. Davis, for example, was serviceable in Nashville after entering as 2017’s fifth overall draft pick, but that didn’t stop the Tennessee Titans from adding Julio Jones to work next to A.J. Brown. Some were surprised to see Moore drop to the second round of the draft. But the Jets were still lacking a proven, established No. 1 target, and that’s haunted the early stages of the Zach Wilson era so far. There’s a strong possibility one of their current representatives can become a top target in due time, but that doesn’t do them any good in the immediate future.

That’s where Beckham can help.

Bringing Beckham back to New Jersey…and the off-the-field extracurriculars and recreation attached to it and neighboring New York City…comes with its precautions. But from an on-field perspective, the Jets could use someone with his acumen. The lack of a consistent, established big-play talent has been one of the Jets’ long-tenured issues: they haven’t had a receiver hit four digits since Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker’s tandem season in the thousands back in 2015. Not only is that an eternity in football years but it should be downright impossible for a team in today’s NFL, one that worships a fantasy football deity, to not feature a 1,000-yard season. Robby Anderson might’ve been the one to break the spell but repping the Jets proved outright depressing and guided him toward Carolina.

Further assisting the Jets’ cause in a trade for Beckham, or another high-ticket deadline option, is the fact they have the capital for such deals. Parting with one of the firsts is obviously out of the question, but the Jets own eight total picks over the first four rounds of next spring’s draft. Adding a veteran asset like Ty Johnson or Denzel Mims…serviceable options who are buried on the offensive depth chart for different reasons…or Marcus Maye…whose support staff has made their interest in the trade deadline no secret…could help sweeten the pot.

Sep 16, 2019; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Cleveland Browns wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (13) runs the ball against New York Jets cornerback Darryl Roberts (27) during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A doable deal for Beckham could help Wilson take the next step of his development and could even hit the fast-forward button toward it. The next question, however, is whether Beckham even would accept such a deal. He himself admitted that his “ultimate goal” is to win a Super Bowl (the disastrous, post-boat trip, visit to Green Bay in the 2016-17 NFC Wild Card playoffs is his lone postseason contest to date) and no one needs to update the Jets’ gargantuan distance from the Big Game. What he could truly use is a nice, peaceful, quiet place to hit reset on his career from a personal perspective. Beckham’s endeavors on and off the field…and the media extravaganza that often follows…don’t afford him such a luxury, but moving on to a team that’s not-as-burdened with expectations could afford him the closest thing.

Having said all that, it’s perhaps the Jets once again watch the transactional proceedings involving a star player from the side. No matter how they play the Beckham situation, it’s going to create some unwanted fanfare. Beckham is more likely to get his wish of being sent to a contender while the Jets themselves are better off developing their young aerial talent (the time, thought, and energy around a deal for Beckham is likely better spent trying to find a role for the explosive Mims).

But, provided it doesn’t derail the rest of this chapter…one armed with hope, maturation, and development despite negative early returns…the idea of Beckham joining the Jets shouldn’t be automatically erased and laughed at.

After all, at this point, what’s there to lose…for either side?

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Giants fall to Cleveland Browns 17-13 in second preseason game

david sills, new york giants

The New York Giants spent the last week in Cleveland, Ohio, enjoying joint practices with the Browns. The week culminated in a preseason matchup today. In this Preseason Week Two matchup, the Cleveland Browns came out on top with a final score of 17-13.

Key stats and takeaways

  • QB Brian Lewerke: 11/19, 108 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
  • TE Rysen John: 3 receptions, 58 yards
  • LB Carter Coughlin: 4 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL

New York Giants

The Giants’ starters did not see the field in this week’s matchup. Daniel Jones and the starting offensive linemen were held out of the lineup for today’s game. The starters are expected to play about a full half of football next week against the New England Patriots in the preseason finale.

Newly-signed backup quarterback Brian Lewerke had a decent showing. The young signal-caller showed some mobility and the ability to sling the ball downfield. Tight end Rysen John went down with an injury late in the fourth quarter but had an impressive game as a downfield receiving threat. Linebacker Carter Coughlin turned heads once again, racking up a sack for the second game in a row.

Cleveland Browns

  • QB Kyle Lauletta: 14/23, 152 yards
  • RB John Kelly: 9 carries, 58 yards, 1 TD
  • DT Malik McDowell: 6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 TFL

The Cleveland Browns also held the majority of their starters out of this game. It was a close one that came down to the wire, but the Browns came out on top and improved their preseason record to 2-0 as the Giants fall to 0-2.

New York Giants should keep eyes on one Cleveland Browns offensive lineman as trade/waiver target

new york giants, drew forbes, cleveland browns

The New York Giants’ front office feels confident about their starting offensive line unit, despite left guard Shane Lemieux working his way back from a knee injury he suffered early in training camp.

After a disappointing first preseason game against the New York Jets, Big Blue is on the hunt for reserve talent in the trenches, and their joint practice sessions this week and a preseason game against the Cleveland Browns should offer them a behind the scenes look at some of their roster bubble talents.

Cleveland has a strong offensive line, representing one of the only teams in the NFL to have so much security at a premium unit. With that being said, one player who could represent a target for the Giants in a potential trade or waiver claim is Drew Forbes, backup offensive guard. The former Southeast Missouri State lineman stands at 6’5” and 308 pounds and is just 24 years old.

Forbes, who was a sixth-round draft pick in 2019, was in line to compete for the starting job before an injury landed him on IR, and he proceeded to opt-out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19.

However, that doesn’t mean Forbes doesn’t have value, as he would immediately become the Giants’ best depth piece at the guard position. With the retirement of Zach Fulton and Joe Looney, they desperately need a player with upside.

Back in 2019, Sports Illustrated coined Forbes as their “Prospect X,” using words like “nasty” to characterize his physical approach and style of play. We know that general manager Dave Gettleman loves linemen who have a chip on their shoulder, and Forbes fits that mold perfectly.

Luckily for Big Blue, Forbes is on the roster bubble given how much depth Cleveland has at the position and him opting out last year. Both Blake Hance and Michael Dunn are ahead of him on the depth chart, and with the Giants practicing with Cleveland this week, a fantastic opportunity to scout him in person has presented itself.

Last week in the Browns’ preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Forbes recorded an 83.6 pass-blocking grade and 64.7 run-blocking grade, according to PFF. He enjoyed 29 total snaps at left guard. Based on the performance that Kenny Wiggins provided against the Jets, seemingly forgetting all fundamentals, targeting Forbes as a potential addition would be a solid move.

New York Jets: The case for (and against) a Sheldon Richardson reunion

Former first-round draft pick Sheldon Richardson is back on the open market. Should the New York Jets stage a reunion?

As the New York Jets inch toward their future, a remnant of their not-so-distant past is seeking a new opportunity.

Sheldon Richardson, part of the last draft where the Jets had multiple first-round picks prior to next Thursday’s proceedings (8 p.m. ET, ESPN/ABC/NFL Network), hit the free agent market last Friday, released by the Cleveland Browns after two seasons. Richardson, 30, has spent the past four years in Seattle, Minnesota, and Cleveland after his Jets career ended with a trade to the Pacific Northwest prior to the 2017 campaign.

Should the Jets stage a reunion, allowing fans to break out their old No. 91 jerseys? ESM investigates…

Why They Should

Though Richardson never reached the heights he hit in New York, he still proved to be serviceable, especially in terms of pressure. His 12 quarterback hits (including two in Cleveland’s AFC Wild Card win in Pittsburgh) earned last season would’ve been the third-best tally on the 2020 Jets, behind Quinnen Williams and a tie between John Franklin-Myers and the departed Tarell Basham. Richardson also came up big during Cleveland’s crucial December win over Tennessee, picking up a game-changing fourth-and-one stop and later forcing a fumble from Derrick Henry. Both takedowns led to Browns touchdowns.

His continued contributions were no surprise to All-Pro Myles Garrett.

“He is a big-time player. That’s why he is here,” Garrett said of Richardson following a dominant defensive win over the Giants in December, per team video. “We see him do it time and time again, and I expect nothing less out of him.”

The Jets have been inspired by the play of their young front seven, particularly through Williams’ 2020 breakout. But with yearly dates with mobile threats Josh Allen looming indefinitely, they can use all the help they can get when it comes to invading the pocket.

New York management could also be interested in a Richardson reunion because of his recent endeavors in the 4-3. They haven’t run it as a primary defensive set since the Herm Edwards day but are expected to make a transition with previous practitioners Roberts Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich at the helm. Richardson struggled when the Jets employed the set during his earlier days (his 2014 Pro Bowl appearance came through his work in the 3-technique) but appeared to gain a new appreciation for it in Cleveland under defensive coordinator Joe Woods.

“The main part is being in the right place at the right time, and you’ll get all the production you’ll need,” Richardson said of Woods’ philosophies, per team reporter Anthony Poisal. “It’s D-line friendly. Everybody has an opportunity on the D-line to make plays without being wrong.”

Why They Shouldn’t

The Jets are currently $24 million under the cap, the third-highest in the NFL (behind Jacksonville and Denver). While some of their neglected needs (offensive line) can be somewhat satisfied in the draft, they still need some veteran renovations. Picking up a veteran backup quarterback to both guide the incoming rookie and relieve him in case of an emergency should be on their spring checklist. The Jets could also use some veteran assistance in the secondary, which may be headlined by young projects Bless Austin and Bryce Hall.

One could argue that Richardson provides veteran mentorship to players like Williams, but the Jets have already brought in some experienced front seven options like Sheldon Rankins, Jarrad Davis, and Carl Lawson. The Jets have enough pressing needs as is. Do they really need to bring in a defender that’s already in his 30s? They already welcomed 32-year-old Vinny Curry to the fold. If they do wish to further remodel their front seven, their remaining offseason funds are perhaps better spent on younger projects.

Richardson’s price tag could also scare some teams away. One of the primary factors behind Richardson’s release was the creation of cap room ($11 million) to afford Jadeveon Clowney. With so many other pressing needs to fill, it would perhaps be wiser for the Jets to look elsewhere.

One also has to wonder if Richardson would even seek out a developing team like the Jets. He has plenty of talent left and could well be the “missing piece” for a team on the cusp of contention. Cleveland’s pair of playoff games in January were the first of Richardson’s NFL career. Granted a taste of postseason action, it’s certain he’s hungry for more. The Jets may have improved, but it wouldn’t be fair to anyone…even the Jets themselves…to call them playoff contenders just yet.

Verdict

Any potential discussion around bringing Richardson in may soon be rendered null. Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski remarked that he “hope(s) that there’s a scenario” to bring Richardson back (per Browns Wire’s Jeff Risdon). Richardson also remarked in an Instagram post bearing the bad news that Cleveland was “starting to feel like home” after single-season stints in Seattle and Minnesota.

From a Jets standpoint, getting Richardson back at an affordable price would be one of the more subtly effective moves of the offseason. From a Jets standpoint, however, there is a case to bring Richardson back. The run defense got a lot better with the additions of Rankins and Lawson and could reach potentially elite levels if Richardson arrived with the same power he had in 2020.

But, for better or worse, the Jets can’t afford to make Richardson a priority right. There are too many scary voids on this roster, ones that can’t fully be solved at the draft next weekend. If they can get Richardson back, maybe on a “hometown” discount of sorts, they should. But the more likely scenario probably has Richardson moving on to another contender.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: Have these victorious final hours saved Adam Gase?

The New York Jets have banded together to compete in the final stanza. This effort can save some players…but not this doomed staff.

If this keeps up, the New York Jets might be able to win the NFC East.

Alas, even the woebegone division, one that will undoubtedly put a team with a losing record in the playoffs after Sunday’s transpirings, would be too far out of the Jets’ reach in a surprising team swap. But Gang Green has spent December providing some holiday cheer in the form of consecutive victories at the end of the NFL season. Each win has come against a team in the thick of the NFL playoff hunt. The Jets (2-13) stole a tilt at SoFi Stadium against the Los Angles Rams (9-6) last weekend before topping the Cleveland Browns (10-5) in this season’s MetLife Stadium finale two days after Christmas.

The triumphs themselves have proved controversial amongst the fanbase. New York’s endeavor for Trevor Lawrence is officially dead after the win over Cleveland, as the Clemson quarterback appears to be headed for Jacksonville after Duval County endured its 14th consecutive loss while the Jets put a Christmas bow on their win over the Browns. The fact the Jets are etched into what will presumably be the first non-Lawrence pick is of little consolation to supporters of the metropolitan green squad.

Those responsible for the on-field triumphs have heeded no mind to those calling for losses, only energized by the past couple of weeks.

“It proves that we don’t quit,” linebacker Tarell Basham, a Sunday hero with two forced fumbles over the final four minutes, said in the aftermath according to an Associated Press report. “It proves that we still are approaching every week to win.”

“We’ve been more consistent, but obviously it’s too late,” quarterback Sam Darnold added in team reporter Jack Bell’s recap. “But it’s huge for our guys who are so resilient playing the way we did as an offense struggling in the second half. The defense and specials having our back. I’m super proud of the guys. We had a huge win in LA last week then came into work on Monday, the whole week and had a good week.”

In an effort to exorcise the demons 2020 has brought forth, football or otherwise, the box scores from the last two weeks are probably set for incineration, along with the rest of the ledgers of this cursed year. But it’s certainly encouraging to see the players band together and play well against what is clearly superior competition.

The Jets have pulled no punches when it comes to expressing their thoughts about supposed fans wishing active harm against the team. Seeing their hard efforts culminate it what has been a strong December…each game of their Christmas quartet has been close with the exception of a 40-3 shellacking in Seattle…is inspiring. All across the roster, participants could well be securing NFL futures in either New York or one of the other 31 markets.

But, in the midst of celebration, it’s worth wondering…have these unexpected triumphs breathed new life into the Adam Gase era?

New York Jets, Adam Gase
Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Gase’s tenure as Jets head coach, however long it remains, could well become defined by ill-advised victories. Time will potentially tell just how much a 7-2 stretch at the end of his debut season, one that followed a garish 1-7 start, altered the course of Jets history. The strong finish gained mostly against teams somehow in even more dire straits than the Jets was enough to convince the powers that be that Gase was the right man for the job. His 2020 performance has consistently proven otherwise.

Yet, even as the Jets threatened to join an unholy trinity of 16-game imperfection with the 2008 Lions and 2017 Browns, Gase’s departure somehow felt anything but certain. After all, several names with football resumes far more expansive than Gase’s were bid farewell before a change in head coaching was apparently considered. Veteran defensive starters Steve McLendon and Avery Williamson were dealt for day three draft picks. Le’Veon Bell was outright released. It took highly publicized bad call for Gregg Williams to be handed an ousting less than 24 hours later. All the while, Gase remained in charge, making increasingly questionable decisions that didn’t exactly fuel the idea that the Jets were trying to win ball games.

The wins over teams of a playoff caliber may be reopening the case for Gase. Even some of the Jets’ recent defeats have show a sense of honor, with four of their prior seven losses coming by one possession. Darnold even remarked after the Cleveland win that he “(loved) working for him”, per Connor Hughes of The Athletic.

But if Gase is back coaching the team in 2021 even in part thanks to this last stretch, that says more about New York management than it ever will about the former Peyton Manning overseer.

For one thing, future discussions of these Jets victories may require asterisks. The Rams victory lost a little bit of luster with rookie rusher Cam Akers noticeably sidelined by an injury (not to mention two of his longer runs, including a touchdown, erased by penalties). A positive test for COVID-19 not only delayed the Browns arrival but the ensuing contact tracing forced them to leave a good portion of their receiving output in Ohio. It’s safe to say that the timing of their respective matchups played well in the Jets’ favor.

But hidden behind the final score are subtle signs that the Jets are making the same mistakes that dug them into this hole in the first place. Progress isn’t be made in the right areas. The Jets are winning in spite of their recurring, apparent issues…not because they’ve overcome them.

For example, the Jets offense still hasn’t reached optimal levels of output, especially under a supposed “guru” like Gase. Darnold, for example, hasn’t taken the next step on his journey as an NFL franchise man. He has yet to earn a triple-digit passer rating and has yet to break the 300-yard mark this season. Sure, numbers don’t entirely make or break an NFL quarterback’s career, but there was a reason that Jets fans were so eager to see Lawrence fall into their laps. Speaking of offense, a lack of scoring, particularly the shrinkage as the game goes on, has been concerning from an offensive standpoint. The Jets have had matching, convincing 13-3 leads at halftime in each of their last two games, but have been forced to rely on bailouts from a tired defense to secure each win. This Sunday marked only the fourth time this season the Jets offense has gotten past the 300-yard mark (333). Such a struggle should almost be impossible in this modern NFL ruled by a fantasy football deity.

Additionally, Gase and Co. continue to make baffling decisions that make one question whether the Jets want to truly pull out a victory. The Jets continue to leave points on the field at opportune times of the ball game, whether it’s sending Braden Mann out to punt on a one-yard fourth down circa midfield or continuing to insist on a Frank Gore farewell tour while Ty Johnson and La’Mical Perine watch. Not only does it affect the Jets’ task at hand, but it throws a wrench into their future as well. One can argue that Johnson and Perine aren’t cut out for a New York future, but the evidence will never be present if they’re not getting some of Gore’s workload in a dire situation.

A purge is indeed coming to the New York Jets. Part of it will be enforced by contractual endeavors…the Jets will have 32 players up for free agency this offseason…but necessity will be the primary factor. At no point in Gase’s tenure have the Jets come remotely close to resembling a contender in the modern NFL. Not even the good times, whether it was the optimistic second half of last season or this new, active winning streak, have given much hope, as fans have grumbled about falling down in the draft order rather than relatively upward in the standings. With rare exception, players have not been put in a strong position to succeed, to extend whatever good times have surfaced over the past few seasons. Those shortcomings, still very much present despite new results on the scoreboard, primarily fall on Gase and his staff with little exception (i.e. special teams boss Brant Boyer).

At the end of the day, those who thrust the Jets into a bizarro football world where victories are considered to be the worst thing that can happen to the franchise should be the first ones held accountable when the purge inevitably comes. Two wins don’t change the fact that Gase is the main culprit.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets: 3 stars from Sunday’s win vs Cleveland

The New York Jets took advantage of a depleted Cleveland Browns squad to earn their second consecutive victory in their home finale.

For their role as spoilers, the New York Jets might be gaining some extra Christmas presents across the NFL. 

Jamison Crowder earned touchdowns through both passing and receiving, while the defense sacked a beleaguered Baker Mayfield four times as the Jets (2-13) earned their second straight victory, topping the Cleveland Browns 23-16 in their 2020 home finale. Sam Darnold also threw two touchdown passes (the other going to Chris Herndon) while Frank Gore (48) became the third rusher in NFL history to surpass 16,000 rushing yards. The ensuing loss of the Browns (10-5) was welcome news for their fellow wild-card combatants in Miami and Baltimore, as well as the Pittsburgh Steelers, who clinched the AFC North title with the Cleveland defeat.

ESM has a trio of game balls to hand out in the wake of another big victory.

3rd Star: DL Nathan Shepherd

3 tackles, 1 sack

Shepherd, a Canadian import out of both Fort Hays State and Simon Fraser, is one of several Jets establishing himself as essential personnel as the Jets go through the macabre process of free research and development. He was a constant prescience in the Cleveland backfield on Sunday, earning three tackles, a sack, and two other pressured hits on Mayfield, making sure the polarizing thrower was even more uncomfortable without his top receivers in tow.

2nd Star: LB Tarell Basham  

5 tackles, 2 forced fumbles, 1 sack

There no greater defense than Basham’s antics as Cleveland’s comeback fell just short. The Ohio alum ended each of the Browns’ final two drives, forcing a pair of Mayfield fumbles that secured the final score. His first, recovered by John Franklin-Myers, allowed the Jets to add Sam Ficken-induced insurance, while the other was recovered by the Browns, but unable to be advanced due to rules enacted inside the final two minutes of the second half.

1st Star: WR Jamison Crowder

7 receptions, 92 yards, 1 TD
1 carry, 14 yards
1-for-1, 43 yards, 1 TD

Could it be that the Jets’ new franchise quarterback has been on their roster the whole time?

Obviously, Crowder isn’t that man, but the Jets were happy to provide Duke fans with a blast from the past during Sunday’s festivities. New York trickery was likely the first sign to the Browns faithful that Sunday was not going to be their day, as his 43-yard strike to Braxton Berrios put the Jets ahead for good. It was Crowder’s first touchdown pass since the 2014 Sun Bowl, when he gave the Blue Devils a late lead over Arizona State with a 12-yard scoring toss.

Crowder, who has turned into one of the NFL’s most dependable slot receivers, also got his name in the scorebook through his traditional aerial ways, nabbing a 30-yard scoring grab from Sam Darnold to conclude the Jets’ first drive of the second half.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

New York Jets Week 16 opponent arrival delayed by contact tracing

New York Giants, Cleveland Browns

The contending Cleveland Browns are set to take on the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon for the latter’s 2020 home finale.

The Cleveland Browns have announced that a player has tested positive for COVID-19. Contact tracing is being conducted, delaying the team’s departure for New Jersey, where they’re set to battle the New York Jets on Sunday afternoon.

Cleveland has closed its team facility in Berea and is continuing its preparation for the Jets virtually. The Browns (10-4) will be making their second straight visit to MetLife Stadium, previously topping the New York Giants in a flexed Sunday night showdown.

“Earlier today, the Cleveland Browns were informed that a player’s test results have come back positive for COVID-19,” the Browns declared in a team statement. “Our facility is closed and our flight to New Jersey has been delayed while contact tracing is being conducted. The team is holding meetings remotely as we continue to consult with the NFL and medical experts on the appropriate next steps as the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff and the entire community remains our highest priority.”

The Browns have dealt with their share of COVID-related issues. Offensive lineman Jedrick Wills Jr. and practice squad receiver Ryan Switzer were each placed on the reserve list due to close contact with a positive individual outside the organization. Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com has said that Wills, the 10th overall pick of April’s draft, has not tested positive and has been expected to be activated prior to Sunday’s game.

Additionally, star defender Myles Garrett has felt the virus’ lingering aftereffects after testing positive earlier this season. According to ClevelandBrowns.com, Garrett said that he continues to suffer from shortness of breath, remarking “deep big breaths are tough right now” last weekend’s win.

As of yet, there are no changes to the Week 16 schedule. The Browns are likely playoff-bound and destined to partake in the opening weekend of the playoffs on the weekend of January 9-10. Their regular season finale against Pittsburgh could potentially be flexed into the Sunday night spot on January 3, especially if the AFC North division title is on the line.

[UPDATE: 7:00 p.m. ET]: The Browns announced that they had placed four receivers (Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, Donovan Peoples-Jones, and KhaDarel Hodge) and two linebackers (B.J. Goodson, Jacob Phillips) on the Reserve/COVID-19 list. In their place, they have elevated receiver Ja’Marcus Bradley and Derrick Willies from their practice squad, as well as linebacker Montrel Meander.

The transaction has not been well-received by Landry.

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

Can the New York Giants’ offense hang with the Cleveland Browns?

New York Giants rookie QB Daniel Jones called a "loser" by Baker Mayfield of the Cleveland Browns.

The New York Giants have one of the worst offenses in the NFL. The Giants are averaging 18.3 points per game, the second-lowest averaging in the NFL this season behind only the New York Jets. New York is coming off of a disappointing Week 14 loss that saw the team score only 7 points against the Arizona Cardinals.

In Week 15, the Giants will play a crucial primetime matchup with the Cleveland Browns. The Browns will be playing their second primetime game in a row, after going toe-to-toe with the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night. Cleveland came up just short in this divisional matchup, losing 47-42.

Each team scored six touchdowns in the thrilling Monday night matchup that saw the heroics of the reigning MVP Lamar Jackson propel the Ravens to victory. The Browns hung in there though, seeing their offense explode with 42 points. Now, heading into Week 15, do the New York Giants have what it take to hang in with the Cleveland Browns’ offense if they explode once again?

The Cleveland Browns offense

The Cleveland Browns possess one of the best rushing attacks in the NFL. The Browns have averaged 25.6 points per game this season, over a touchdown per game more than the Giants.

Cleveland possesses the third-ranked rushing offense in the NFL. They are averaging 156.2 rushing yards per game. The Browns’ impressive running back duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt has helped the Browns control time of possession and win games with a fierce ground attack.

But third-year quarterback Baker Mayfield has not been too shabby either. Baker has had a breakout season in 2020, totaling 2,785 passing yards en route to a 9-4 record. Mayfield has also already passed his 2019 season total of passing touchdowns with 23 so far this season. But the key to Baker’s third-year development has been his turnover reduction. Baker threw 21 interceptions in 2019 but has only thrown 8 so far this season. This improvement has been the biggest difference-maker for Baker and the Browns offense.

With the Browns’ excellent rushing attack combined with a new-and-improved Baker Mayfield in 2020, rookie head coach Kevin Stefanski has put together a few huge offensive performances this season.

The Browns have scored 30 or more points in seven games this season. They have managed to crack 40 or more points three times this year. Stefanski’s offense is capable of putting up high-flying offensive performances. The Giants, on the other hand, are not as capable.

The New York Giants have only scored 30 or more points in one game this season, their Week 5 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. Granted, the Giants’ defense has been great this season, so the Giants’ offense was not required to put up a high volume of points in any of their five wins. But the Browns’ offense is playing like one of the best in the NFL this season, so even though the Giants have a phenomenal defense, Cleveland could manage to put up a high volume of points on Sunday night. New York’s offense will need to have its best performance of the season if it wants to hang in a shootout with the Cleveland Browns.

New York Giants: Slowing down dominant Cleveland rushing attack the key to Week 15 victory

The New York Giants lost a crucial matchup with the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday. This loss moved the Giants down to second place in the NFC East as the Washington Football Team came out victorious against the San Fransisco 49ers. It is a tight race to the finish line for the top teams in the NFC East. Every game left on the schedule should be treated as a playoff game.

This race to the playoffs makes the Giants’ primetime Week 15 matchup that much more important. New York will host the Cleveland Browns next Sunday night in a difficult matchup that will greatly affect the Giants’ chance of winning the division. Cleveland is coming off of an impressive Week 14 performance that saw them come up just short against reigning MVP Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens. The Browns put on a rushing clinic against Baltimore, as they have all season long. If the Giants want to come out victorious against the Browns, they need to slow down Cleveland’s rushing attack.

Cleveland’s dominant rushing attack

The Cleveland Browns have the best running back duo in the NFL. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are two top-tier running backs running out of the same backfield. This has helped Cleveland create one of the best rushing offenses in the NFL this season.

The Cleveland Browns are third in the NFL in rushing yards per game at 156.2 yards, behind only the Baltimore Ravens and Tennessee Titans. The Browns have totaled 16 touchdowns on the ground this season.

After a 2019 season that saw running back Nick Chubb total 1494 rushing yards, 2020 has seen the running back have another excellent season. The Browns’ 2018 second-round pick has dealt with injuries this year and played in only 9 games, but he has performed as one of the best running backs in the NFL when on the field. Chubb is averaging 5.9 yards per attempt and 97.9 yards per game, totaling 881 rushing yards and a career-high 9 rushing touchdowns in 9 games.

Kareem Hunt has been just as impressive though, whether filling in as the full-time back while Chubb was injured or splitting the workload with his teammate in the backfield. Kareem Hunt is averaging 4.4 yards per attempt and 59.4 yards per game as Cleveland’s secondary running back. Hunt has also provided the Browns with solid receiving ability out of the backfield, totaling 252 receiving yards and 5 receiving touchdowns, matching his total of 5 rushing touchdowns on the season.

The Browns’ running back duo has accounted for 19 of the team’s touchdowns this season. Cleveland’s offense runs through those two backs. If the Giants want to get back to their winning ways on Sunday, they need to slow down Cleveland’s rushing attack.

When could the New York Jets fire Adam Gase?

New York Jets, Adam Gase

The consistent fan consensus has been the New York Jets will pack Adam Gase’s bag for his flight out of Florham Park. That consensus, though, is not that. Ownership has lauded Gase as a “brilliant mind.” Chris Johnson has been a very vocal supporter of Adam Gase, and for him to just switch gears and cut ties with him, well, it would take a drastic downfall. The likes of which we are beginning to see a glimpse of.

Analyzing past trends:

Last season featured a rarity in terms of coaching firings. There tends to be a coach fired in season, but never two. Jay Gruden was given a short leash heading into his 2019 campaign, and that was evident after his 0-5 start landed him without a job.

Ron Rivera (now Washington head coach), was also handed his walking papers near the back half of last season as well, which was surprising. Although Rivera’s situation lacks resemblance to this one, looking at Gruden’s situation, there are many parallels. Gruden was axed after an embarrassment of a start.

The team looked to show no progression after losing veteran QB Alex Smith to a career-altering injury and showed no growth in terms of offense whatsoever. See the connection now? The Football Team organization has been renowned as the most incompetent in all of football, yet even they could recognize when it was time to let go of their guy. Another scenario similar to this occurred two years ago with Hue Jackson. Jackson was a supposed innovator on offense and was given a fairly decent sized leash in Cleveland, another organization filled with incompetence. Yet they knew when to cut ties with him as well, they did hire another fairly bad coach in Freddie Kitchens, but at least they knew when enough was enough.

When will the New York Jets know?

It’s time for the Jets to break things off in the Gase. What will it take for Adam Gase to see that? Well, the first two blowout losses undoubtedly helped, but it’s going to take at least two more. If the Jets get blown out today, the pressure will continue to mount, and the walls will begin to close in. If they continue to show no growth, that will also be a reason to ax Gase.

Now, if the Jets are competitive in the next few games, then that could save Gase up until the bye week, then the Jets would have a full span to transition power. If Jet fans really want Gase out, they need to hope that they get torn apart in the next two to three weeks. If this happens, then the Jets could finally cut ties with Gase. In this case scenario, the quicker it is over, the better. This season is NOT a lost cause, but as long as Gase is around, it always will be.