Cleveland Browns fans know Gregg Willams well, which means no one should be surprised when he brings the heat on Monday Night Football
Former Cleveland Browns coach Gregg Williams, now the defensive coordinator for the New York Jets, is tasked with finding ways to beat his former quarterback Baker Mayfield and his associates on the offensive unit.
Like a leopard, Williams is not going to change his spots. He has installed his attacking defensive philosophy, derived from his mentor Buddy Ryan, in New York. That means he will try to sack the quarterback, disrupt him, and knock him out of the game if possible.
That intense desire got him in trouble in New Orleans with the “Bountygate scandal” but the fact of the matter is that NFL defenses really do try to hit their opponents as hard as they can, and even knock them out of the game or at least make them sore the next day.
Williams does not believe in covering and containment.
“We’re not a reactionary defense, we’re an attacking defense,” he told Ethan Greenberg and other Jets beat writers.
That’s the same formula he has used throughout his career. Force the other team’s offense off their game plan. Make them do things that they are not good at.
Williams is a personal hero to your humble correspondent, and in fact if you will look closely at the profile pic, that is coach Williams next to me, taken at a Browns charity event.
I was awed by Buddy Ryan’s defenses in Chicago and Philadelphia, and was a big fan of Rob Ryan when he was the defensive coordinator of the Browns, and always liked Williams as a defensive coordinator. I advocated Gregg Williams for head coach a year before it happened.
But all that is out the window on Monday Night Football when the bell rings. Baker Mayfield’s job is to destroy the Jets’ defensive scheme, and all Browns fans want nothing less.
Williams is going dial up every blitz imaginable to throw at Mayfield. He knows the personnel of the Browns and knows where the strengths and weaknesses are. Accordingly, you can expect his charges will be coming after the right side of the Browns’ offensive line, including right tackle Chris Hubbard and new right guard Eric Kush.
The game films from last week’s debacle against the Tennessee Titans will show that Hubbard had major problems defending against the pass rush. Likewise Kush is a newcomer and will be tested with defensive line stunts and blitzes. If David Njoku lines up over there, he had better be sure that his chin strap is tight.
The best trash talkers on the Jets will be tasked with getting Greg Robinson’s goat. Robinson lost control last week, getting thrown out of the game and setting off a chain reaction of position changes on the offensive line. They will do their best to cause Robinson to lose his cool again.
Now, this begs the question whether the Jets have the personnel to do what Williams wants to do.
Paul A Esden, writing for The Jet Press, can be listed among the skeptics. “The Jets couldn’t hit water if they fell out of a boat as it pertains to their pass rush,” is the way he succinctly puts it.
That means that instead of Dan Hampton, Richard Dent, Refrigerator Perry and other large kitchen appliances, the Jets are left with no-name defensive ends Leonard Williams and Henry Anderson, plus outside linebackers Jordan Jenkins and Harvey Langi, as their principal pass rushers. Are they good enough to get to Mayfield?
The problem with the blitz is that it offers the offense a mismatch somewhere because the extra blitzers are not carrying out their normal assignment. The quarterback has to find the mismatch before he is squashed like a bug. Usually the blitz works especially well against young quarterbacks who are a bit hesitant and take too long in the pocket anyway. Mayfield is different, however, because he tends to get the ball airborne very quickly. Hence this analyst likes Mayfield in this game, though the Jets are going to get through the porous right side of the offensive line.
Interestingly, Williams and the Jets are featuring the 3-4 defense rather than the 4-3 he used in Cleveland. It’s possible that Williams may have wanted to use extra defensive backs more frequently in Cleveland, but he realized that Myles Garrett was going to be a Pro Bowl 4-3 defensive end, and Joe Schobert was so good as a middle linebacker that he would have to be on the field every down. That may have tipped the scales in favor of the 4-3 alignment in Cleveland.
C. J. Mosley is a major free agent addition, having signed a five-year, $85 million dollar contract this off-season, at inside linebacker. While he was in the game last week the Jets were dominant defensively, and when he left the game with a pulled muscle, the Buffalo Bills offense destroyed them. Mosley is expected to be 100 percent for the Browns on Monday night.
At the end of the game, do you suppose there will be a repeat of the surreal scene last year, when former Coach Hue Jackson bounced on the field expecting hugs from his former team, and especially Mayfield? That was ridiculous, and the most ridiculous aspect was that the national media was all over Mayfield for snubbing a guy now working for a division rival.
Maybe the Browns should be excused from not being in the fan club for a coach that went 3-36-1. It didn’t help that the players and fans blame the coach for keeping them out of the playoffs in 2018, and also for trying to get Baker Mayfield killed — 20 sacks under Jackson, and only five under Gregg Williams and Freddie Kitchens.
You national sportswriters out there, you take fifteen extra hits from guys who weigh 300 pounds and see how much affection you have for the guy who puts you in that situation!
At any rate, let us hope that the end of the game results in a happy Mayfield, and a grumpy, Williams.