For much of the first half, it looked like the Jets were responding to coach Rex Ryan’s belief that “word on the street” had him fired by making sure that Ryan got axed.
The offense couldn’t move the ball, the defense gave up big chunks of yardage to a mediocre Browns offense and they fell behind 10-0. Things turned around on their final two possessions of the second half, however, and the Jets went into the locker room after a Nick Folk field goal tied the game.
Geno Smith was the biggest driver of the offensive turnaround. He completed four passes on third down on the first drive, including a touchdown to David Nelson, and then drew a late hit from Browns safety Tashaun Gipson on the next drive to move the ball into position for Folk’s kick. He finished the half 10-of-20 for 120 passing yards and ran for 26 more without turning the ball over, which certainly qualifies as a good day for Smith thus far.
The Browns were stuffed on fourth down from the Jets’ one-yard line on one of their drives and missing out on those points kept things within reach for the Jets as they waited for things to click for them in the second quarter. Once they did, they wound up outgaining the Browns 228-149 for the half and moving themselves closer to a possible 8-8 finish in a year predicted to turn out much worse.
Whether that’s enough to keep Ryan around remains to be seen, but the team has started doing what it can to help his case.