Fitzpatrick returns to lineup as Jets face winless Browns
The Cleveland Browns can't win football games and can't keep quarterbacks healthy.
The New York Jets aren't in position to feel any sympathy.
New York will have Ryan Fitzpatrick back as its starting quarterback when it visits the Browns on Sunday (1 p.m. ET, CBS).
Cleveland (0-7) hopes to get journeyman Josh McCown back to shore up its quarterback situation as it attempts to record its first win under first-year coach Hue Jackson. If McCown isn't cleared, rookie Kevin Hogan would become the fourth starting quarterback for the Browns this season.
Jets coach Todd Bowles isn't the least bit concerned about Cleveland's plight, not with his club sitting with a 2-5 mark.
"No, we worry about our own record," Bowles said. "Ours isn't too glowing right now."
Fitzpatrick's season wasn't looking so bright when he lost the starting gig to Geno Smith, but Smith tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee last Sunday during the Jets' 24-16 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.
Smith's misfortune elevated Fitzpatrick right back to the starting position. The situation became a bit awkward when Fitzpatrick said the organization -- including Bowles -- doesn't have faith in him.
Bowles fired back about Fitzpatrick's high number of turnovers -- the veteran leads the NFL with 11 interceptions -- and the two men had a long sit-down to get back on the same page.
"I was disappointed I got benched, but I was disappointed in the way that I had played, too," Fitzpatrick said. "So there's a lot of things that I'm continuing to work on, but I continue to keep the faith in myself. ... We've just got to continue to move this thing in the right direction."
Cleveland is just looking to get a victory. The Browns dropped each of their past four games by double digits, including a 31-17 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday.
Dating back to last season, Cleveland has lost 10 consecutive games and 17 of its past 18.
"We're going to continue to work at getting better," Jackson said. "I get disappointed for our players, for the franchise, for all involved -- our fans and everybody because I want everybody to experience winning because that's what we came here to do, and that's what we want to get accomplished. Obviously, we haven't done that yet."
McCown returned to practice Wednesday after being sidelined since breaking his collarbone against the Ravens on Sept. 18.
Rookie Cody Kessler was serving as the starter, but he sustained a concussion against the Bengals. Kessler appears unlikely to play versus New York, and if McCown isn't ready to go, Hogan would get the nod after passing for 100 yards and rushing for 104 against the Bengals after relieving the injured Kessler.
Veteran left tackle Joe Thomas is rooting that it will be McCown behind center.
"I think it will be a huge boost," Thomas said. "He obviously has played well for us when he has been in these past couple years. To be able to have him back would be awesome since the quarterbacks that are healthy right now do not have nearly as much experience that Josh does."
All the upheaval is making it hard for Cleveland to find an offensive flow, and the Browns rank 27th in scoring at 18.6 points per game. Yet the Jets are even worse -- ranking 30th at 17.0.
Part of the problem is that New York ranks last in the NFL in turnover margin at minus-11. And that means Fitzpatrick has to play better and smarter is his latest opportunity to start.
"There's no middle ground," Bowles said. "You're a competitor. You come in and the quarterback is going to throw interceptions. You've got to have a short-term memory. Ryan has great belief in himself, and we have belief in him, and we go into the game as normal."
The Jets averaged nine points per game during a four-game skid before the win over Baltimore. They now face a leaky Cleveland defense that ranks 31st in total defense (425.6 yards per game) and 30th in scoring defense (29.6 points per game).
New York ranks 23rd in scoring defense (25.7), but second-year defensive Leonard Williams is emerging as a force with six sacks.
The Jets won the teams' past three meetings, including a 31-10 victory last season. McCown started the game for the Browns but was knocked out in the first quarter with a concussion.