Browns a different team from what the Jets saw in '01
The Browns age in Dawg years.
NFL life passes so quickly. Today’s game against the Jets reminds you of that. It recalls the last time they met the Jets here. Their world ... the world ... has changed.
Most Ohio writers rode a train to Manhattan the night before the Oct. 27 game. The 9/11 tragedy went down 13 1/2 months earlier. Times Square was bustling, but to a visitor, New York felt like a ghost town in some tangible but inexplicable way.
Al Lerner was a New York guy, a Columbia student, an up-by-the-bootstraps kid before he was a Cleveland billionaire. Walking the city streets that night made you think of Lerner, too, especially since this was the first game after the Browns owner died.
The team was nothing special, lucky to be 3-4 after barely beating expansion Houston. Another loss seemed certain when the Jets got off to a big lead.
The cast was from a show long since closed.
Browns nicknamed “K.J.” and “Q” at the wideouts. The undrafted Michigan kid, Mark Campbell, at tight end. Jamel White, who hated his nickname, “Swoll,” tag-teamed with William Green at tailback. Ross Verba and crazy Barry Stokes formed the left side of the offensive line. Guard Shaun O’Hara came from nearby Rutgers, back when you didn’t readily admit playing for Rutgers.
The defense included personalities with nicknames such as “Big Money” and “Booshay.” Then there was Courtney Brown, “The Quiet Storm.”
Dwayne Rudd, the helmet-toss guy, and rent-a-Steeler Earl Holmes were the best linebackers. Darren Hambrick was the other linebacker because Jamir Miller — the one and still only Pro Bowler of the expansion era — blew out an Achilles in the preseason.
The curtain fell on the Jets.
The sound spilling out of the locked Browns locker room after their miracle rally produced a 24-21 win was half strange, all funny.
Hambrick — who joined the team late and wasn’t back the next year — fancied himself a team leader and led a wild postgame chant.
History forgets whether that was the postgame when Hambrick wore the funkiest red suit the NFL has seen, but history recalls what a day Tim Couch had.
Butch Davis didn’t like the way some fans had been picking on Timmy. After his quarterback starred in the comeback, Davis said, “Who would you rather have? Tim Couch (with inflection befitting a king) or ... Chad Pennington?”
It’s five years later. The Jets still have Pennington, although they’re starting Kellen Clemens at quarterback. The Browns have wound from Couch to Kelly Holcolmb to Jeff Garcia to Luke McCown to Trent Dilfer to Charlie Frye to Derek Anderson.
The only Browns who started in 2002 at the Meadowlands and figure to start today are Ryan Tucker and Orpheus Roye.
Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini are the rival head coaches for the Browns and Jets now.
In 2002, they worked for Bill Belichick. They took January off that year, because the Browns rallied to finish at 9-7. New England also was 9-7 but lost a playoff tie-breaker. The Jets came out of the numbing loss to Cleveland winning five of their next six. They also made the playoffs at 9-7. Incredibly, they beat the Colts, 41-0, in the first round.
Five years later, the only way into the playoffs for the 3-9 Jets is a presidential pardon.
The Browns can be well on their way if they win today and come out at 8-5. In their case, a win is advisable. You take the playoffs when you can get them. You never know when you’ll be back.
Reach Repository sports writer Steve Doerschuk at (330) 580-8347 or e-mail email@example.com
Browns (7-5) at Jets (3-9)
Kickoff: 4:15 p.m.
Venue: Meadowlands, capacity 80,062, FieldTurf.
Line: Browns by 3.
TV: CBS, Dic k Enberg, Randy Cross.
Jets last three: Beat Pittsburgh 19-16 in OT, lost at Dallas 34-3, won at Miami 40-13.
Browns last three: Won at Baltimore 33-30 in OT, beat Houston 27-17, lost at Arizona 27-21.
Browns vs. New York: No. 16 run offense (105.8 yards a game) vs. No. 29 run defense (141.1). No. 9 pass offense (247.7) vs. No. 11 pass defense (210.3).
Jets vs. Cleveland: No. 19 run offense (102.1) vs. No. 28 run defense (131.5). No. 25 pass offense (186.3) vs. No. 30 pass defense (258.4).
Scoreboard: On average, opponents are outscoring the Jets, 24.3 to 18.4, and the Browns, 28.2 to 28.0.
Oregon trail: Browns QB Derek Anderson beat Jets QB Kellen Clemens in the 2000 Oregon high school state 3A semifinals. They were born in Oregon within two weeks of each other in 1983.
Not Clemens’ time: Clemens ranks 37th in the NFL with a 51.4 fourth-quarter passer rating, 27th in third-down passer rating at 56.8 and 32nd in overall passer rating at 61.5
Anderson’s line: He ranks No. 6 in fourth-quarter passer rating at 88.1, 19th in third-down passer rating at 74.4 and 11th in overall passer rating at 87.7.
Running men: The Jets’ Thomas Jones leads the Browns’ Jamal Lewis, 838-803, in rushing yards. Lewis leads Jones 4.1-3.6 in per-carry average and 8-1 in TDs. Browns backup Jason Wright leads the Jets’ Leon Washington, 228-219, in rushing yards. Both average 4.2 per carry.
Jets’ landing crew: Laveranues Coles is a beast every now and then (eight catches, 133 yards, two TDs vs. Cincinnati). No. 1 receiver Jerricho Cotchery is doubtful with a hand injury. Veteran Justin McCareins had a 51-yard catch last Sunday.
Browns’ big three: WR Braylon Edwards (1,043) and TE Kellen Winslow Jr. (909) rank No. 6 and No. 11, respectively, in the NFL in receiving yards. WR Joe Jurevicius ranks No. 2 in third-down catches with 23.
Down the stretch they come: The Browns finish with home games against Buffalo and San Francisco sandwiched around a trip to Cincinnati.