WATCH: In wake of offensive concerns, all hope rests on Jets' defense
After a devastating loss in the team’s season opener, the New York Jets (0-1) had things go from bad to worse as they prepare to take on the Cleveland Browns (0-1) on Monday Night Football.
The team reported Monday that wide receiver Quincy Enunwa will be sidelined for the year with a neck injury. Thursday, the news got worse when coach Adam Gase announced quarterback Sam Darnold is out indefinitely with mononucleosis.
With a banged up offense, the Jets are going to need their defense to step up in a big way, not only for Monday night against the Browns but most likely until Darnold returns, which the team doesn’t expect until after the bye week at the earliest.
The glaring blemish on this Jets defense is their secondary. It’s no secret that aside from Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye patrolling the backend, the secondary is a play zone for the opposition.
It was apparent last week against the Bills as the Jets secondary allowed 254 yards passing to Josh Allen. John Brown caught 123 of those yards on 7 catches. Cornerback Trumaine Johnson was the one covering Brown the majority of the game.
Although Brown was the only receiver to go over 40 yards receiving, many of the balls Bills receivers caught were not heavily contested. Darryl Roberts was also picked on throughout the game.
Although it wasn’t on display in their loss to Tennessee last week, the Browns have one of the scariest passing attacks on paper. The skillsets of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry need no explanation and David Njoku has also proven to be a matchup problem now in his second season.
Their offense will be looking to bounce back on the big stage on Monday night. The Jets defensive backs aren't skilled or fast enough to keep up with the Browns receivers. That being said, expect a lot of 2 high safety and zone coverage looks.
Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams will be facing his former team so expect him to have some extensive blitz packages to disrupt Baker Mayfield.
A key to this will be the front seven. Although both C.J. Mosley (groin) and Quinnen Williams (ankle) left the game Sunday, Gase is optimistic they’ll play on Monday.
"With him, I wouldn't count him out, either one of those guys (Mosley or Williams), just because they are two Bama (Alabama) guys, fast healers," Gase said on Friday.
Mosley’s availability to play on Monday would be a big boost to the defense. He was the best player on either side of the ball in Week 1 until he got hurt. His skill set will be especially key in quelling the Browns passing attack.
On top of covering tight ends, Mosley has also displayed his ability to cover wide receivers as evident by his pass defense on John Brown which prevented a touchdown. Ironically it was during this excellent play in which Mosley suffered his groin injury.
If Mosley can't go, look for Neville Hewitt to step up and take control of the linebacking unit.
Le’Veon Bell was also reported as having undergone an MRI for shoulder soreness but he's made it clear he intends to play Sunday. With an offense without their starting quarterback, a banged-up running back, and down a wide receiver you would be hard-pressed to expect much from an offense that looked downright anemic a week prior.
With the amount of money and draft picks put into this defense, the pressure to perform has grown immensely.