There’s one matchup Jets fans have been looking forward to all offseason. And now it’s had all the sting ripped out like an unruly appendix. But nonetheless, the Browns come to MetLife stadium to face-off against the Jets in week 2. Let’s preview this matchup with weird stats, storylines, and predictions.
Defensive Burden: Gregg Williams and C.J Mosley
There’s no one on the Jets defense more familiar with the Browns’ offense and starting quarterback than Gregg Williams and C.J Mosley. Williams was the Browns’ defensive coordinator last season. C.J Mosley faced both iterations of the Browns offense last season (pre and post Hue Jackson) as a divisional opponent. For Mosley, his latest memory is the most memorable one when he picked off Mayfield to clinch the division for the Ravens last season. In that game he had a TFL and 2 pass defenses to go along with that final interception.
Gregg Williams must have loved what he saw from Mosley up close on top of his play on film in Baltimore because the Jets made a significant offer to Mosley in free agency (a pick six against the Gase-led Dolphins in 2017 may have also left an impression). With what Gregg Williams did developing linebackers in Cleveland (Joe Schobert and Genard Avery most notably), a linebacker like Mosley had to have been an intriguing proposition.
Fast forward to now and both Williams and Mosley present the Jets biggest dependencies in the Jets matchup against the Browns. After Mosley’s mind blowing first performance as a Jet, you get a good sense that he’s the perfect centerpiece for Gregg Williams’ defense. But the problem is that without him, for a quarter, the Jets looked like a worse defense than last season. The Jets success on Monday will be heavily dependent on Mosley’s health. That is, of course, unless Gregg Williams knows how to unravel his former practice rival, Freddie Kitchens, without Mosley.
TD to DT
The last time the Jets saw Trevor Siemian starting in a regular season NFL game was in Denver in 2017 when the Broncos shut out the Jets 23-0. In that game, Siemian threw a touchdown pass to Demaryius Thomas who the Jets recently traded for. The Jets will be dependent on that connection being rekindled, and also Jamison Crowder and Le’veon Bell making plays in space.
Without Darnold, the Jets offense will ironically be ultra conservative, after much talk before the season about how exciting it would be. The Jets will have to execute a similar gameplan to what Denver did on December 10th in 2017: Stay ahead of the chains, possess the ball, take chances at the right time and lean on the defense to win the game. The Jets need Siemian to be at his game managing best. The question will be can Jets receivers like Demaryius Thomas make things easier for him when he does have to drop back and pass.
What if…Heroes and Zeroes
If the Jets win…
Hero: Gregg Williams (also prayer)
Zero: Freddie Kitchens
The Titans gave the same blueprint that teams did last season against the Browns: force Mayfield into mistakes with pressure and variability. Mayfield averages 1.9 interceptions in losses (1.1 for Darnold in 2 more games). In the 6 games the Browns were held to 21 points or fewer last season, Mayfield threw 9 interceptions and was sacked 16 times. Last week, Mayfield threw 3 interceptions and was sacked 5 times. Thankfully for the Jets, Gregg Williams loves wild defensive schemes. For the Jets to win, they need a masterclass from Williams. They need to force at least 3 turnovers and add a momentum capturing defensive touchdown.
If the Browns win…
Hero: Joe Schobert
The big feature from the Jets’ offense this week will be…the checkdown. As a result, it’s the perfect game for Browns’ inside linebacker Joe Schobert to shine. Schobert is Cleveland’s best coverage linebacker. He’ll likely draw the assignment of Le’veon Bell plenty of times on Monday night. If he can limit Bell’s playmaking ability in space in the passing game while also keeping the Jets behind the chains against the run, the Jets will have little chance to put up points and be a threat in this game.
Not great, Bob
I think the Jets defense will put up a strong fight against the Browns on Monday night. The Jets will double Odell Beckham Jr. and force Mayfield to his other options. But there will simply but too much of a talent disparity between their secondary and the Browns’ other options to keep up the fight. The Jets will keep it close until the second half. Then, Mayfield will start to pick on the weak parts of the Jets secondary and create some distance. In the end, I think it turns out a bounce back week for the Browns and a rough week but a good effort from the Jets.