The Ryans Express is under way at Cleveland Browns Stadium today. Jets head coach Rex Ryan and his twin brother, Rob, the Browns’ defensive coordinator, just broke up after chatting with each other at the 20-yard line.
Apparently all is forgotten — Rex’s impersonation of his brother at his news conference this week, the “bounty” he placed on his brother. But really, of course, it’s not forgotten, only put aside, because soon the two will be trying to kick each other’s butts all over this stadium hard by the banks of Lake Erie.
That brother vs. brother theme will be repeated many times on the field and over the CBS airwaves — Jim Nantz and Phil Simms handling the call. After all, Rob is the DC for Eric Mangini, who is in his second year as head coach of the Browns after three seasons leading the Jets. Reports are that as affable and low-key as Mangini has been this week, he wants to topple the team that let him go after the 2008 regular-season finale.
Then there are the storylines threaded throughout the rosters. WR Braylon Edwards is back playing against the team that let him go to the Jets in trade early last season. Brodney Pool was let go after last season and is the Jets’ starting safety.
And the Browns roster is dappled with former Jets — DEs Kenyon Coleman and Brian Schaefering, LBs Eric Barton, David Bowens, Jason Trusnik and Blake Costanzo, S Abram Elam, WR Chansi Stuckey, P Reggie Hodges and QB Brett Ratliff.
And while all that lends an air of friendly familiarity to the game, the competitiveness will rise to the surface in about an hour. The Jets like where they’re at as one of five teams in the NFL and one of three in the AFC with two losses, but they’re working hard to solve some of their issues, such as their franchise-record pace in committing penalties and also their third-down defense, lack of interceptions and passing accuracy on offense.
The Browns, meanwhile, have gone from glum to upbeat after correcting their 1-5 start with stunning win at New Orleans and last week at this same stadium over the Patriots. The fans on the way into the stadium are sounding confident about their chances against the Jets and some T-shirts, such as some Braylon Edwards models, appear to be selling well.
Mangini has certainly not allowed his team to get overconfident, but they know how important this game is to the credibility of their program, and the Jets know how important it is to continue to win and build momentum as the season heads deeper into November and teams start to separate themselves in the standings.
Update, 12:25 p.m.: The Ryan brothers were just joined by the Ryan father, Buddy, who is here at the game. The three put their arms around each other at midfield for photographers, including our intrepid Al Pereira. We’ll have some of those photos among all the great images Al will provide for us after the game.
The weather could factor into this game. The morning began chilly and rainy. The rain has stopped and the forecast is for temperatures in the low 50s under mostly cloudy skies. The key is the wind, which is forecast to blow at 14 mph from the west-southwest. That should mean that punters, passers and kickers will have the wind behind them when moving from left to right on your TV screen and blowing in their faces moving right to left. At the moment, though, the wind doesn’t seem to be too bad and the sun has even struggled through here and there.
The Jets announced their inactive list 90 minutes before kickoff as usual. The inactives are CB Marquice Cole, LB Josh Mauga, OL Vlad Ducasse, DTs Jarron Gilbert and Marcus Dixon, and TEs Matt Mulligan and Jeff Cumberland. Kellen Clemens is again the third quarterback.
That means two who have been inactive for long stretches this season will be in uniform and ready to roll this afternoon: rookie RB-ST Joe McKnight and second-year LB Jamaal Westerman.
The Browns’ IA list includes QB Jake Delhomme, WRs Carlton Mitchell and Demetrius Williams, OL Steve Vallos, DL Brian Sanford, TE Alex Smith and DL Jayme Mitchell. Ratliff is the third QB.
Today’s referee is Terry McAulay. The Jets are 3-5 in games he’s presided over since 1991, including wins in the Curtis Martin-inspired 6-0 snow win over the Steelers at the Meadowlands in 2003 and last season’s 29-15 triumph that handed the Colts their first loss after 14 wins in Lucas Oil Stadium.
This is the Nantz-Simms team’s 27th Jets game since they got together in the CBS booth in 2004. The Jets are 11-15 in those games, including this year’s 28-14 comeback triumph over the Patriots for their first victory of any kind in New Meadowlands Stadium back on Sept. 19.
Tags: Braylon Edwards, Brodney Pool, Cleveland Browns, Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan, Rob Ryan
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