Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Browns-Jaguars game.
Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew vs. Browns run defense
The 5-7. 208-pound Jones-Drew has rushed for 745 yards on 186 carries (4.0 ypc) and three TDs this season. He has rushed for 100 yards or more in back-to-back games, racking up 24-100-2 vs. a scuffling Houston defense in Week 10.
He draws a tougher matchup this week in the Browns, who are allowing just 3.9 yards per carry, which is rather impressive, considering opponents have attempted 263 rushes against them, sixth-most in the NFL. While the Jets rushed for 172 yards vs. Cleveland last week, that was in nearly five quarters of play, and New York attempted 45 rushes. The Jets gained a mere 3.6 yards per carry, and their longest rush by a running back was just 10 yards.
When these teams last met in the final week of the 2009 regular season — a Browns 23-17 victory in Cleveland — Jones-Drew racked up 82 yards on 16 carries, with a long run of 30 yards. Jones-Drew quickly hits the hole and can run through tackles and away from defenders. The Browns must be secure tacklers against him; he can be tough to bring down.
One other issue to ponder: can the Browns' defense be as stout as it was vs. the run a week ago after being on the field for 47:08 vs. the Jets — essentially a game-and-a-half of work? If Cleveland can shut down Jones-Drew, it will be a triumph of depth, endurance and soundness. Injuries to OLB Scott Fujita and CB Sheldon Brown last week forced the Browns to use more reserves, and the run defense played pretty well all the same. It's going to take another team effort on "D" this week against Jones-Drew because of all of the extra minutes the group played against New York.