EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The first game of the Todd Bowles era and it was a win for the New York Jets head coach, his team looking tidy on offense in a 31-10 win over the Cleveland Browns.
The win over the Browns represented the fifth straight season opener won by the Jets and for Bowles, who was interim head coach of the Miami Dolphins for the final four games of 2011, it improved his coaching record to 4-1.
It started off shaky in the first half as the Browns moved the ball methodically down the field, picking apart the Jets defense. Johnny Manziel, who entered the game in the second quarter after Josh McCown left with a concussion, threw a 34-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Travis Benjamin over a hapless Antonio Cromartie. But from there, the Jets would settle down.
The Jets would answer back, a 10-yard touchdown from Chris Ivory and then a beautiful 15-yard pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Eric Decker gave the Jets a 14-10 lead heading into halftime.
After Marcus Williams intercepted Manziel early in the third quarter, the Jets marched down the field and Fitzpatrick threw his second touchdown pass of the afternoon, this one a one-yard pass to wide receiver Brandon Marshall. It was the first touchdown reception for Marshall in a Jets uniform. Then Ivory had a three-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to ice the game.
Fitzpatrick Can Do Well In This Offense – He may have gotten the starting nod due to a broken jaw suffered by Geno Smith but Ryan Fitzpatrick looked the part in his Jets debut. His first pass attempt went for 22 yards to Eric Decker and it was late in the first half, a 15-yard touchdown pass where he threaded a needle to find Decker, that put the Jets up 14-10 right before halftime. Fitzpatrick wasn't magic and he did have a first half interception but he was overall solid. He also has a growing comfort level with Brandon Marshall, including a one-yard touchdown pass to put the Jets up 21-10 midway through the third quarter.
Johnny Football Is Still Reckless – With Browns starting quarterback Josh McCown knocked out of the game in the first quarter with a concussion, it was time for Johnny Manziel to take over the reigns of the offense. He made an instant impression as he threw a 32-yard touchdown pass that torched Antonio Cromartie over the top. He locked in early in the third quarter on a Marcus Williams interception and looked rattled at times in the second half as the Jets brought pressure. He fumbled three times in the second half.
Brandon Marshall Showed the Goods – It won't be any catch that he'll be remembered for in this game but rather the fumble he forced. In the second quarter and with the Jets piecing together a decent drive, Ryan Fitzpatrick's long pass to Marshall was intercepted by Tashaun Gipson. But Marshall had the presence of mind and sheer athleticism to track down Gipson and strip him of the ball, then he picked up the fumble and ran it to the 9-yard line. It was a tremendous play from Marshall in his Jets debut, who also showed tremendous body control in staying in bounds on a 17-yard pass in the third quarter. Then a couple plays later, he had a one-yard touchdown pass to put the Jets up 21-10.