QB shuffle continues for Browns
CLEVELAND — The old guys are back under center for the Cleveland Browns and the New York Jets, aware they’re not part of the future.
So Josh McCown and Ryan Fitzpatrick will do what they can to save the present on Sunday when the Jets (2-5) visit star-crossed Cleveland (0-7).
New York coach Todd Bowles benched the 33-year-old Fitzpatrick after the veteran threw 11 interceptions while leading the Jets to a woeful 1-5 start. Geno Smith stepped in with his first start since the 2014 season finale and didn’t even last a half, going down with a knee injury in the second quarter against Baltimore.
With Smith being placed on injured reserve with a torn anterior cruciate ligament, it’s back to Fitzpatrick. For now at least.
“I guess you never say never in the NFL,” Fitzpatrick said. “You just don’t know what’s going to happen. It was a difficult week for me and I said that to (the media) and said that to my teammates and everybody, but that’s behind us. It’s over. Nobody in this league feels sorry for you.”
The Jets certainly won’t get any sympathy from Cleveland, which has seen the habitually revolving door at quarterback speed up at an almost comical rate. Two months into the season, 49 players have attempted at least nine passes. Six of them are Browns.
Yes, six. No other team has used more than three.
And now the job goes back to the 37-year-old McCown, who returns for the first time since breaking his collarbone in a Week 2 loss to Baltimore. McCown replaces rookie Cody Kessler, who is dealing with a concussion sustained in last week’s loss to Cincinnati.
“If (McCown) is out there, it means he is the best guy standing right now,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “Will it be a boost? It is a boost just to have any of our quarterbacks playing right now.”
“Everybody wants to talk about the interceptions,” Jackson said of Fitzpatrick. “That happens sometimes. People go through that. I think he has gotten himself back upright, and playing and knows what to do and how to do it. He is a big challenge.”
Other things to look for as Cleveland tries to avoid its worst start in 31 years against New York and it’s on again/off again/ on again bearded quarterback:
LITTLE RESISTANCE: For all the hand-wringing over the quarterback situation in Cleveland, the bigger issue with the Browns is the other side of the ball. Cleveland has given up 400 yards or more five times already and ranks 30th in yards allowed and points allowed. Jackson became so infuriated while watching the Bengals race up and down the field last week on their way to 559 yards in a 31-17 Cincinnati win he reamed out the defense and spent the final minutes of the game with his headset off in disgust.
BETTER DAYS: The latest iteration of the Browns has made the playoffs once since the franchise’s return in 1999. It will pay tribute to better days when it honors the 1986 team that went 12-4 and reached the AFC championship game. More than two dozen members of the 1986 club will be on hand, including coach Marty Schottenheimer, quarterback Bernie Kosar, running back Earnest Byner and linebacker Clay Matthews. The Browns fell to Denver in overtime of the AFC title game when John Elway led the Broncos on “The Drive.”
AP Sports Writer Dennis Waszak Jr. in New York contributed to this report.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP–NFL
Copyright 2016 The Associated Press.