On Monday, the Cleveland Browns’ try to get back on track when they face the New York Jets. To help preview a few topics from the Jets’ perspective, we reached out to MacGregor Wells from Gang Green Nation and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!
Chris: “Gregg Williams was the defensive coordinator and interim head coach with the Browns last year, and now he is the Jets’ defensive coordinator. I know it’s early in the year, but what is the Jets’ biggest weakness right now defensively?”
MacGregor: “The cornerback position is the Jets biggest weakness on defense. 2018 free agent acquisition Trumaine Johnson was acquired to be a #1 cornerback, but he has played more like a low end #2 cornerback. Johnson looks old, slow and on his last legs as an NFL cornerback. He cannot keep up with average NFL wide receiver speed, and is completely helpless against top end speed. Put Johnson up against a big physical and slow receiver and he can hold his own. Otherwise Johnson is a liability on the field.
The Jets other outside cornerback, Darryl Roberts, is a career backup whom the Jets inexplicably gave low end starter money to this off season and slotted him in as the other starting outside cornerback. Predictably that did not look like a well thought out plan in week one, with Roberts getting repeatedly burned by less than elite Bills receivers. Brian Poole is the slot cornerback and he is OK, nothing more. As a group this is one of the worst, if not the worst, cornerback groups in the NFL. And lord help the Jets if any of the starters should go down, because the backups probably don’t even deserve a roster spot on almost any NFL team.”
Chris: “Le’Veon Bell is the Jets’ new running back, and Cleveland is quite familiar with his play, having been in the division for his whole career. However, he was out of football all of last season -- how has everything gone with Bell since joining the Jets? Does he still seem like a top running back in the NFL?”
MacGregor: “Jets fans were curious to see how rusty Bell would be in the season opener after not seeing action in the pre-season and not playing for nearly two years. Any concerns were laid to rest, however, as Bell looked like the same elite back he had been for the Steelers. His statistics in week one against a very tough Bills defense don’t jump off the page, but Bell was as impressive as ever on the field, running with great vision, power and elusiveness.”
Chris: “The stunning news that Sam Darnold will miss this week’s game with mono just came out. Who do the Jets turn to now and what is your reaction in general to the whole situation, as it pertains to Week 2?”
MacGregor: “The Jets starting quarterback Monday Night will be Trevor Siemian. Suffice it to say that is not the matchup Jets fans were looking forward to. Siemian is an OK NFL backup. As a starter he is among the worst, if not the worst, starting quarterback in the NFL. There is always the possibility any guy turns in the performance of his life and lifts the team to a surprise victory. It’s possible, but that’s not the way to bet.
Let’s just say Jets fans are not anticipating great things on Monday Night, nor as long as Darnold remains sidelined. The Jets do not have the kind of dominant defense that might make up for what is now anticipated to be an anemic offense under Siemian. If this turns into a prolonged absence for Darnold, the season may well be over for the Jets before it ever got much of a start.”
Chris: “What is the strength and weakness of the Jets’ offensive line?”
MacGregor: “The Jets offensive line is probably roughly NFL average if everyone is healthy. The Jets added two crucial pieces in former Pro Bowlers center Ryan Kalil and guard Kelechi Osemele to what was a deficient line. With those two additions the Jets have the makings of a line that might be above average in protecting the quarterback once they get familiar with each other. However, the Jets line is pretty weak in run blocking, which could limit the effectiveness of Le’Veon Bell and the Jets ground game. ”
Chris: “Tell us about one player on offense and one player on defense who Browns fans might not be familiar with, but who could make a nice contribution for this week’s game.”
MacGregor: “On offense I’m not sure there are any obscure guys who will contribute in this game. I’ll cheat a little and say Braxton Berrios, the Jets punt returner and backup slot receiver. I don’t expect Berrios to play much if at all on offense unless starting slot receiver Jamison Crowder goes down. But Berrios has some ability as a returner, and it’s not out of the question he could break a big return which would greatly help a Jets attack that will likely have trouble moving the ball.
On defense the obscure name to watch is inside linebacker Blake Cashman. With starter Avery Williamson lost to injured reserve for the year and starter C.J. Mosley hobbled with a groin injury, Cashman might see some extended playing time on Monday Night. Cashman is a the Jets 5th round pick from the 2019 NFL draft. He is a bit undersized, but has great speed, good coverage skills and a high motor. Cashman had a great pre-season for the Jets, but it remains to be seen what he can do when the games count and the opponents’ stars are lining up opposite him. He could play a big role in covering backs and tight ends for the Jets in this game.”
Thanks again to MacGregor for taking the time to answer my questions.