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Mono-a-Mano: 5 truths about the 2019 New York Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 08: A New York Jets fan reacts after the game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on September 8, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Buffalo defeats New York 17-16. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 08: A New York Jets fan reacts after the game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on September 8, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Buffalo defeats New York 17-16. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – SEPTEMBER 08: A New York Jets fan reacts after the game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on September 8, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Buffalo defeats New York 17-16. New York Jets (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – SEPTEMBER 08: A New York Jets fan reacts after the game against the Buffalo Bills at MetLife Stadium on September 8, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. Buffalo defeats New York 17-16. New York Jets (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)

Here are five observations that will loom large Monday night against Baker Mayfield’s Cleveland Browns, and for the remainder of the New York Jets’ injury-and-mononucleosis ravaged 2019 campaign.  We are seeing who they are, and what they are not.

New York Jets head coach Adam Gase and general manager Joe Douglas have tried to fix this team on the fly. They’ve done a good job, there’s just a long way to go. The specter of Mike Maccagnan will haunt this franchise for some time to come.

The Jets roster includes elements of impressive talent. But swiss-cheese-sized holes abound. The players maintain a “next-man-up” mindset. But as we saw in Week 1’s 17-16 meltdown, once key players succumb to injury, the on-field performance plummets.

There are not enough playmakers for sustained success. Of the 27 projected Jets starters and specialists for this season, nine are down due to suspension, injury, or illness.

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Nobody expected a nationally televised game of Trevor Siemian handing off to Bilal Powell — or the backup quarterback looking downfield for Ty Montgomery and Josh Bellamy. Or with game-day decisions regarding defensive cornerstones C.J. Mosley and rookie Quinnen Williams.

But before this team walks, it must crawl. The veteran offensive line must gel to allow for any semblance of offensive production. Defensive line pressure cures secondary woes. An NFL kicker should make every PAT and most any FG inside the 50.

Here are five talking points that will portend Gang Green’s shape of things to come in 2019 and beyond. But first, time to focus on Week 2’s visitors from Cleveland.

Next: 5. Don't Mess With Adam Gase

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – AUGUST 24: Head coach Adam Gase of the New York Jets stands on the sidelines during their preseason game against the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium on August 24, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. New York Jets (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – AUGUST 24: Head coach Adam Gase of the New York Jets stands on the sidelines during their preseason game against the New Orleans Saints at MetLife Stadium on August 24, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. New York Jets (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

5. Don’t Mess With Adam Gase

Adam Gase is a loose cannon. But judging by his early handling of “L’affair de Maccagnan” and his recent diatribes about his team’s Week 1 letdown, there’s clearly a method to the madness.

Having said that, Peyton Manning‘s quarterback-whisperer can’t survive in New York if he reveals himself so thin-skinned with the media. Did you see him snarl petulantly at reporter Manish Mehta’s questions, likely from something written in the Daily News?

Gase talks a good game about “overcoming adversity.” The head coach of the Jets will certainly have his chances Monday night with Darnold out indefinitely.

New York Jets QB Sam Darnold ruled out for the foreseeable future. Hot

By the way, have you ever ever heard of an NFL star out with mono? Medically speaking, playing football with mono can be potentially deadly because it affects the spleen, which can rupture upon impact. Plus, it’s extremely contagious.

This is Adam Gase’s defining moment as an NFL head coach. Have confidence in defensive coordinator Gregg Williams’ inside knowledge of the team he interim coached last season to a 5-3 finish.

So if Gase can scheme with his former Broncos players Trevor Siemian and Demaryius Thomas enough to put three big scores on the board, he just may prove every naysayer wrong.

Next: 4. Lack of Reception

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 15: Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas #87 of the Houston Texans makes a first-down reception against the New York Jets during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium on December 15, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. New York Jets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – DECEMBER 15: Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas #87 of the Houston Texans makes a first-down reception against the New York Jets during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium on December 15, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. New York Jets (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)

4. Lack of Reception

Quincy Enunwa missed 2017 with a tricky neck injury. Prior to 2019 free agency, Maccagnan re-signed him for four-years, $36 million.

After one game, the 2014 sixth-rounder — he and Brian Winters the lone remaining John Idzik picks — is done for the season, with his career very much in jeopardy after a re-injured neck. His pact will affect Joe Douglas’ salary cap moving forward.

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  • Tuesday’s acquisition of Demaryius Thomas was impressive on a number of levels. Not only was it the team’s first trade with New England of the Bill Belichick era. But it will eventually provide Sam Darnold with his first legit NFL receiver.

    The 31-year-old recovering from scary car crash injuries (including a torn Achilles) is certainly no longer the superstar Adam Gase coached in Denver. But Thomas — who won’t yet be up to speed, and is still dealing with post-rehab hamstring issues — offers upside over Enunwa.

    During training camp, Gase extolled the size and speed of wiry wideout Robby Anderson. After the season opener, the head coach seethed over a potential game-winning touchdown pass that fell incomplete due to Anderson’s poor route-running and lack of explosion towards the ball.

    Maccagnan’s best undrafted free agent signing is up for a phat contract, but he’s doing himself no favors.

    With Siemian under center and Thomas not yet up to speed and still dealing with post-injury hamstring issues, “Young Amazing” can distinguish himself with a Monday Night Football breakout.

    At the end of the day, Anderson and Jamison Crowder, in tandem with Le’Veon Bell and Ty Montgomery, have the potential to get it done against Cleveland.

    This is where Chris Herndon‘s four-game suspension really hurts the franchise.

    Next: 3. What's So Special?

    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – AUGUST 29: Sam Ficken #7 of the Green Bay Packers kicks the ball in the second quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs during a preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 29, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. New York Jets (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)
    GREEN BAY, WISCONSIN – AUGUST 29: Sam Ficken #7 of the Green Bay Packers kicks the ball in the second quarter against the Kansas City Chiefs during a preseason game at Lambeau Field on August 29, 2019 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. New York Jets (Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images)

    3. What’s So Special?

    Mike Maccagnan deserved to lose his job, for many reasons. He received a particularly poor grade for building, and then wrecking, special teams strengths in place-kicking and the return game.

    More from Jets News

    The Jets had two All-Pros in kicker Jason Myers and kick returner Andre Roberts. They both said that they felt insulted by ‘Trader Mike’ nickel-and-diming them and both fled Gang Green for greener pastures. What was the former general manager’s thought process?

    The Jets now employ their fourth kicker since the preseason (see Chandler Catanzaro, Taylor Bertolet, and Kaare Vedvik).

    Hopefully, with this week’s signing of ex-Rams booter Sam Ficken, he will take full advantage of his opportunity — if for no other reason than we don’t soon hear any of those inevitable “Ficken Jets” headlines!

    Does this really mean that Maccagnan’s best non-first-round draft pick was 2016 sixth-round Aussie-via-Stephen F. Austin punter Lachlan Edwards?

    Next: 2. Hold the Line

    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 30: Nathan Shepherd #97 of the New York Jets reacts before a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. New York Jets (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
    FOXBOROUGH, MASSACHUSETTS – DECEMBER 30: Nathan Shepherd #97 of the New York Jets reacts before a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on December 30, 2018 in Foxborough, Massachusetts. New York Jets (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

    2. Hold the Line

    Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams can mix and match with the best of them.  But he’s not a magician — he can’t create something out of nothing.

    Judging by his consistent play-calling against Buffalo, the defensive coordinator was caught off-guard by his squad’s lack of pass rush, edge pursuit, cornerback play, and field awareness.

    We’re talking about every Jets defender not named C.J. Mosley, Jamal Adams, Marcus Maye, Neville Hewitt or Jordan Jenkins.

    Leonard Williams had zero tackles and five assists. Wasn’t this guy the hands-down top talent of the 2015 NFL Draft, a steal at pick number six?

    Do you want to extend “The Big Cat” for $18 million next year? For what it’s worth, over a year ago, Todd Bowles was begging Maccagnan to re-sign Williams, so that the team wouldn’t be in such a financial quandary!

    Read. The New York Jets cornerback concerns solidified after Week 1 loss

    Nathan Shepherd looks like another Maccagnan Day-Two dud. It must’ve been hard not to be tantalized by what the Fort Hays State sleeper flashed at the 2018 Senior Bowl. Now in his second season, the beefy Canadian has shown little on the big stage and was a Week 1 healthy scratch.

    Now we get news of Shepherd’s six-game suspension, failing two consecutive PED tests, in June and July. How is that even possible? The defensive lineman was already on the outside looking in, and the new regime owes him no allegiance.

    In the past 10 days, the team has signed two linemen: John Franklin-Myers, who had a big sack for the Rams in last year’s Super Bowl, and Jordan Willis, a 2017 third-rounder out of Kansas State who played in every Bengals game the past two seasons.

    Call it slow, steady progress.

    Next: 1. Cornered

    EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – SEPTEMBER 08: John Brown #15 of the Buffalo Bills makes a catch over Trumaine Johnson #22 of the New York Jets during the game at MetLife Stadium on September 08, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. New York Jets (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)
    EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY – SEPTEMBER 08: John Brown #15 of the Buffalo Bills makes a catch over Trumaine Johnson #22 of the New York Jets during the game at MetLife Stadium on September 08, 2019 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. New York Jets (Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images)

    1. Cornered

    Question: Do the Jets or Giants have the league’s worst cornerbacks? Answer: At least Big Blue can blame youth.

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    Trumaine Johnson — not retained by the Rams because he “took plays off,” and then surprisingly snagged by Maccagnan for a positional-record $72 million pact — plays like he got paid and no longer cares. Darryl Roberts is a nice role player that Maccagnan paid like a starter.

    Brian Poole is a serviceable nickel-back, a slight upgrade over Buster Skrine. If recent addition Nate Hairston has something, it’s time to seize the moment. Same goes for Arthur Maulet, a nice player with a compelling story.

    As for the Jets’ Monday Night return — if the front seven can control the line of scrimmage and get some pressure on pressure Baker Mayfield, that would allow Neville Hewitt to cover David Njoku over the middle and then three or four secondary-men could focus on the existential threats of Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham.

    Next. New York Jets: Top 5 takeaways from Week 1 loss to the Buffalo Bills

    At least that’s the plan.

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