New York improved to 4-3 when it hung on to defeat Detroit 31-24 last week, matching its win total from last season. The Jets beat Miami 20-17 in Week 6 and are now trying to record three straight victories for the first time since Nov. 21-Dec. 5, 2004.
That run started with a come-from-behind 10-7 victory at Cleveland in the teams’ last meeting.
“We are 4-3. That’s it.” first-year Jets coach Eric Mangini said. “The things that happened last year, I was in another place at that point.
“The consistency at practice and the individual preparation now is carrying over into better execution in the game, which is carrying over into wins. That’s the most important thing for us to be successful is consistency, work ethic, preparation and detail.”
Mangini and the Jets have benefited from a healthy Chad Pennington and a developing running game.
Pennington has completed 65.8 percent of his passes for 1,450 yards and nine touchdowns this season after missing 22 games over the previous three years with shoulder and wrist problems.
Rookie Leon Washington, meanwhile, has emerged as New York’s featured back and ran for 129 yards and the first two touchdowns of his career in last week’s win over the Lions.
“For me, the most impressive thing is his physicality,” Pennington said about the 5-foot-8 Washington, who was selected in the fourth round of April’s draft. “People are learning about his speed, but he’s very physical between the tackles. He doesn’t go down with one defender, it takes multiple defenders to take him down. He bounces off of tackles, he’s a very physical person even though his size wouldn’t make you think that.”
Washington, whose 346 rushing yards are the third-most by a rookie this season, will be facing a Cleveland defense that is ranked 29th in the NFL against the run, allowing 144.2 yards per game.
The Browns (1-5), though, will be taking the field against a shaky Jets defense that gives up 372.3 yards a contest, third-most in the NFL. New York has allowed 74 points in the fourth quarter, two fewer than it’s given up in the entire first half.
“Same story right now,” Jets safety Kerry Rhodes said. “We’ve got to find a way to maintain our intensity on defense throughout the whole game.”
The Browns need to show some intensity as they hope to avoid their second three-game losing streak of the season. Cleveland fell 17-7 to Denver last Sunday behind an offense that had 165 total yards and three turnovers.
That performance helped lead to the resignation of second-year offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon on Tuesday. Under Carthon, the Browns were averaging an NFL-worst 245.2 yards of total offense per game.
“We talked man-to-man about our situation that we are in,” coach Romeo Crennel said. “To do what I thought was best for the Browns, the organization and the fans of Cleveland, I decided to accept his resignation.”
Jeff Davidson, the club’s offensive line coach the past two seasons, will replace Carthon. The 39-year-old Davidson was given the additional title of assistant head coach after last season when he nearly took a job with the Jets.
“Jeff is putting his thoughts together about what he thinks and feels,” Crennel said. “We’ll see how that manifests itself. I don’t think that you can realistically expect that it’s going to manifest itself into a wide-open offense overnight. For one, the players are ingrained in a system, terminology and so forth. If you go in and change all of the terminology and all of the plays, you are starting from scratch.”
On defense, Cleveland will be without Gary Baxter after the veteran cornerback tore the patellar tendons in both knees during last week’s loss to the Broncos. He has appeared in just eight games with the Browns since signing a six-year deal prior to last season.
Baxter joins fellow cornerbacks Daylon McCutcheon and DeMario Minter, and safeties Jeremy LeSueur and Shawn Mayer on injured reserve. But despite all the injuries to the secondary, Cleveland is 10th in the NFL with 192.8 passing yards allowed per game.
New York has won six of the last nine meetings in this series, including four of six in Cleveland.