09/16/2019 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/16/2019 21:35
1. All eyes were on Odell Beckham Jr. on Monday night as he returned to MetLife Stadium for the first time since the Giants traded him away for chump change. First, they were fixated on his Richard Mille watch, this one, worn during pregame, reportedly worth $2 million. Then, on his gold-tinted non-regulation visor, which forced him off the field on Cleveland's first drive of the game. The camera then zoomed in on his limp at the end of the first half when OBJ was gimpy following a deep attempt from Baker Mayfield; they followed him as he jogged into the locker room. We can't stop watching Beckham because, on or off the field, he's bound to do something beyond description -- and that was the case Monday night.
Beckham hauled in a first-quarter 33-yard bomb from Mayfield with one hand while blanketed by Jets cornerback Nate Hairston, inspiring comparisons to 'The Catch' that launched him into stardom. (The grab even took place in the same end of MetLife Stadium as the infamous catch against Dallas.) He followed that up with a game-sealing 89-yard catch-and-run score in the second half, in which he split the lax Jets secondary and burned them into obsolescence. Beckham deservedly showboated in the end zone while his teammates flocked to join him.
For nearly seven quarters, Cleveland's offense lacked any oomph, urgency or explosiveness. Beckham (161 yards on six catches) changed all that. The Browns knew that would happen when they traded for him. Why didn't the Giants?
2. Just when it can't get any worse, it gets way worse. So laughably worse. That's life in the Jets' quarterback room. Less than a week after Sam Darnold, a grown man, was sidelined by mononucleosis, his backup, Trevor Siemian, suffered a nasty-looking ankle injury in the second quarter against Cleveland. Siemian went to the locker room, and Luke Falk, a second-year player out of Washington State who was signed to the Jets' active roster just eight hours prior, took the reins. It was hard to be worse than Siemian was for the first 20 minutes of Monday's game; he hit half of his six attempts for a measly three passing yards, unable to take a shot downfield. Making his first NFL in-game appearance, Falk (20-of-25, 198 yards) was far sharper than the journeyman Siemian but not nearly ready enough to lead a Jets comeback. Assuming Siemian's injury will keep him out for some time, the Jets will need to reach out via free agency, trade and/or time machine to find passers for next week's game against New England.
3. Blame it on the Jets offensive line, or blame it on the scheme: Myles Garrett and the Browns front seven were in New York's face all night long. Gang Green has only played two games, regular season or preseason, with its current front, including out-of-retirement center Ryan Kalil -- and it showed for the second straight week. Siemian and Falk were sacked four times and hit seven times, with Garrett inflicting the most punishment. It was Garrett who knocked out Siemian with a late, illegal tackle in the second quarter (his second personal foul of the game), but it was also him who legally embarrassed Jets left tackle Kelvin Beachum on damn near every snap. Garrett's three sacks Monday give him the league lead with five on the season and the inside lane for Defensive Player of the Year honors at year's end.
4. Beckham's breakout night aside, Cleveland's offense was unsteady and uninspiring for the second straight week. Mayfield was sailing passes against a subpar Jets secondary, no one east of Odell could make plays in the passing game and the Browns were a woeful 4-for-13 on third downs. Baker threw the 18th interception of his young career with the Browns driving and the game in hand by forcing a speedball in the middle of the field. The miscue reeked of an overconfident gunslinger failing to manage the game correctly. Cleveland's attack has a long way to go to reach its offseason potential. Lucky for them, there are still 14 more opportunities to improve.
5. Under old management, the Jets gave Trumaine Johnson a five-year, $72.5 million contract, making him the highest-paid cornerback in the league. On Monday night, Johnson saw just three more snaps than you did, dear reader. The cornerback stood on the sideline in a jersey, full pads and with a helmet on for nearly the duration of Monday's game without seeing a single defensive snap. A former starter, Johnson saw Hairston start in his place alongside Daryl Roberts and Brian Poole. Only when Hairston came off with an injury with 207 seconds left in the game did Johnson make an appearance. One of the most underwhelming signings in team and league history, Johnson doesn't look to have much of a future in New York.
6. Doesn't matter if it Siemian, Falk or whatever Joe Schmo the Jets sign off the street under center next week. This offense will run through Le'Veon Bell. The Jets running back was the focal point from the get-go, before Siemian left the game and well after. After playing all of New York's offensive snaps in Week 1, Bell finished with a game-high 31 touches for 129 total yards; he might've had a touchdown too, if he hadn't fumbled near the goal line late in the proceedings. When Bell said ahead of the season opener he could carry the ball 50 times if New York needed him to, he sounded serious. In the coming weeks, Bell might get his wish.
7. Chalk this up as a victory in the standings for Cleveland, but the Browns have yet to prove themselves as legitimate contenders in the AFC. The humbling home loss to the Titans still looms large over Cleveland's prospects this season, and beating up on the hapless, QB-less Jets doesn't impress much. The better test will come next Sunday night when the Browns (1-1) host the defending NFC champion Los Angeles Rams. As for the Jets, they head up to Foxborough where the Patriots (and disaster!) await.