Editor's note: Tony Grossi covers the Cleveland Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR.
Browns v. New York Jets
Monday, 8:15 p.m., in MetLife Stadium
Last game: Lost to Buffalo Bills, 17-16, Sept. 8, in MetLife Stadium.
Coach: Adam Gase, 0-1, first season; 23-26 overall.
Series record: Browns lead, 14-12 (counting postseason).
Last meeting: Browns won, 21-17, Sept. 20, in Cleveland.
League rankings: Offense is 30th overall (26th rushing, 31st passing), defense is 16th overall (25th rushing, 14th passing) and turnover differential is plus-3.
Things I think
1. Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams had a smashing debut with his new team. His unit produced four takeaways, including a Pick 6 by linebacker C.J. Moseley, and a safety. Williams always has a profound, instant impact on his new teams. How soon it wears off is the Jets’ problem now. Everyone knows Williams will blitz relentlessly and leave his cornerbacks in single coverage. Nobody believes cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts will be able to hold up in Williams’ system. He’ll play safety Marcus Maye 25 yards downfield as his “angel” safety and hope he can make the open-field tackles when Johnson and Roberts get beat in one-on-one battles.
2. The Jets blew a 16-0 lead to Buffalo after Moseley got knocked out of the game with a groin injury. The ex-Raven – who intercepted Baker Mayfield late in the 16th game to preserve Baltimore’s playoff berth last year – is the defense’s quarterback, signal-caller and playmaker from an inside linebacker position. The unit was aimless without him. Moseley might practice sparingly, but is expected to be ready to play Monday night.
3. Quarterback Sam Darnold dinked-and-dunked in his first game under Adam Gase as head coach. He attempted only four passes longer than 20 yards and missed them all. He and the starting offense played only three quarters in preseason, and it showed. New center Ryan Kalil did not play at all in preseason, Darnold is sure to miss receiver Quincy Ununwa, who was lost for the season with a neck injury. To replace him, the Jets traded with New England for aging veteran Demaryius Thomas, whose production dropped off measurably in his ninth season last year split with Denver and Houston.
4. Special teams was a Jets’ strength last year, but no more. They allowed two Pro Bowl performers to leave in free agency – returner Andre Roberts and kicker Jason Meyers. Finding replacements for both is ongoing. The Jets this week signed their fourth kicker since the beginning of training camp, Sam Ficken, who battled reliable veteran Mason Crosby in Green Bay’s camp this summer. Ficken replaces Kaare Vedvik, who was booted after missing a PAT and field goal with his third team since July. The Norwegian previously was traded from Baltimore to Minnesota and cut by the Vikings.
Did you know … ?
1. Expectations weren’t nearly as high for the Jets as they are for the Browns, but this is seen just as close to a must-win for them because of a rough early schedule ahead. After the Browns, the Jets play at the Patriots, have an early bye, and then resume at the Eagles, home v. the Cowboys, and then home against the Patriots again. Without a win Monday against the Browns, they can be 0-6 very quickly.
2. Although NFL schedule-makers assigned this matchup early to commemorate the 50th season of ABC’s “Monday Night Football,” which featured these two franchises in the 1970 debut in Cleveland, the Jets probably won’t use an appearance by franchise great QB Joe Namath to inspire the crowd or its troops. They played that card in their opener against the Bills.
3. A little has been made in New York media this week that Jets coach Adam Gase favored Baker Mayfield in the 2018 draft when he was head coach of the Dolphins and would have taken him over Sam Darnold. Before Gase joined them, the Jets made Darnold the No. 3 overall choice. Gase’s Dolphins wound up taking Minkah Fitzpatrick at No. 11.
4. Jets’ 2019 No. 1 draft choice Quinnen Williams, of Alabama, comes off the bench and plays shade tackle when the Jets switch to a four-man defensive front.
Small world: Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was Browns DC in 2017-18 and went 5-3 as interim head coach in 2018 … Defensive assistant Blake Williams was Browns linebacker coach in 2017-18 … Offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains was Browns QB coach in 2014 … Special teams coordinator Brant Boyer played for the Browns in 2001-03.