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Burning Questions

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Burning Questions for Week 2 vs. Jets

Between a 2-0 start and a sack record being broken, the Browns can make history a couple different ways Sunday against New York


The Browns have a chance to make history in a couple ways Sunday at FirstEnergy Stadium.

First, a 2-0 start. That's what the Browns are gunning for against the Jets after they won their first Week 1 game since 2004 last week. A second win to open the season would be their first 2-0 start since 1993.

What was life like then? Bill Belichick was the Browns' head coach. Vinny Testaverde was the quarterback. "Dreamlover" by Mariah Carey was the No. 1 song on the Billboard Top 100. The first ever "Jurassic Park" movie was released that year and won three Oscars.

And that's a perfect segway into the second feat that could be achieved.

Noted "Jurassic Park'' fan Myles Garrett is two sacks away from breaking Clay Matthews' all-time sack record, which here cover here later. He could grab them in quick order after sacking Panthers QB Baker Mayfield twice on consecutive plays last week.

A lot needs to happen, however, for the Browns (and Myles) to accomplish those achievements, which leads us into our Week 2 edition of Burning Questions.

How can the Browns step up their pass game?

It won't require any drastic changes from what they did last week in Charlotte.

QB Jacoby Brissett completed 18-of-34 passes for 147 yards and one touchdown, but two opportunities for a lot more yards — and likely two more touchdowns — were left on the table on two incompletions.

If Brissett had completed one or both deep ball attempts to WR Amari Cooper or RB Kareem Hunt in the first quarter, the game might not have come down to the final seconds. Cooper and Hunt were both open and would've had a path to the end zone, but both passes were overthrown.

Cooper said the incompletion on his play was due to a different look than they expected.

"That is the thing about games is you are not always going to get the look that you prepare for," he said. "On that particular look, usually I release outside, but the corner jumped so far outside that I had to release inside. I just reacted to it, and Jacoby was not accustomed to seeing that look on that play that we ran in the game. It was just a different type of look.

"As far as (if it) can it be fixed, absolutely. The next time we see it, I'm sure he will drill the ball right in there."

Connecting on the deep balls is one way for immediate improvement, but the group has to be better at communicating at the line of scrimmage, too, after the group struggled to line up on several plays. The Browns took two delay-of-game penalties in the third quarter and had several other close calls, mostly in the first few drives to open the game.

Those problems can't linger, and Brissett knows it.

"I would assume that it will be a much cleaner game from our standpoint," he said. 'We addressed a lot of the problems that caused a lot of those communication errors and those things. Looking forward to obviously going into this week of practice and preparation to correct those things so that on Sunday, they're clean."

Check out photos of players and coaches working to prepare for the teams regular season game against the New York Jets Sunday

How does Cooper fare against "Sauce" Gardner?

For the pass offense to improve, the Browns have to get Amari Cooper more involved. That means the seventh-year veteran will need to win battles against a rookie CB who looked strong in his debut last week.

The Browns are looking to find more big-play opportunities for Cooper after he caught just three passes for 17 yards last week. This week, he'll face Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner, who was the fourth overall pick by the Jets in the 2022 draft. He allowed one reception on three targets last against Ravens WR Rashod Bateman.

At 6-foot-3 and 200 pounds, Gardner should size up well against Cooper, who's 6-foot-1 and 210 pounds. Cooper thrives in one-on-one battles, however, because of his crisp route-running and double-move abilities.

He's expecting plenty of man coverage against Gardner this week and is ready to go to work.

"Usually those bigger corners, they like to be more physical at the line of scrimmage," he said. "You'll have to be able to beat tight man coverage."

Does Myles break the sack record?

There's no doubt he could break it Sunday when you look at the matchups.

The Jets are already missing their top two options at right tackle in Mekhi Becton and Duane Brown, who are both on injured reserve. The replacement, Max Mitchell, received a 48.9 grade by Pro Football Focus and allowed one sack last week against the Ravens. Left tackle George Fant also received a 60.1 grade and allowed one sack.

Garrett could feast on those matchups, especially against QB Joe Flacco — who's far from a fleet-footed QB. His two sacks last week were against 2022 sixth-overall pick OT Ikem Okwonu, who was given a 41.2 grade by Pro Football Focus.

The record chase, however, won't be top-of-mind for Garrett as he chases Flacco.

"What's important to me is winning," he said. "Whether I tie it, I don't or I break it, whatever it is, but I want to be very impactful in the game. I want to be able to be a game changer for my team. If I don't break the record, that's not going to sadden me. There will be many more games and another game next week. I know he's a great player and he has had a line of great players. I hope to get it, but at the end of the day, it won't wear me down if I don't."

But he is looking forward to getting in front of a home crowd again at FirstEnergy Stadium and hopes to give them something special to cheer for.

"I'm just looking forward to putting my best foot forward, and maybe having a game where they can chant my name again," he said.

Will Conklin be available?

Similar to last week, Jack Conklin's status will be a gameday decision.

"I think he is really, really close," head coach Kevin Stefanski said. "We will let the next 48 hours determine where we go."

Conklin was a limited participant in practices Wednesday and Friday and didn't practice Thursday. With Chris Hubbard (elbow, illness) also ruled out Sunday, James Hudson III would start at right tackle if Conklin isn't available.

It's worth noting that the Browns could be extra cautious with Conklin since they have a short turnaround next week with a Thursday night game against the Steelers. Stefanski, however, said the decision will be based on when Conklin is ready to play.

"I think when he is ready, he is going to play is probably the simplest way to put it."

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