Jets vs. Browns on Monday Night Football in 2019. You knew it was going to happen.
With the release of the NFL's regular-season schedule tonight, one of the first things to jump off the screen for Green & White fans are the Jets' three primetime games — home in Week 2 against Cleveland on Monday, Sept. 16, home in Week 7 for New England, also on MNF, on Oct. 21, and at Baltimore in Week 15 on Thursday night, Dec. 12.
The Jets-Browns game was hardly a shocker, especially if you were following the newest Browns wideout on social media. "Just seen the schedule, it's funny how God and the universe works…. week 1 surprise," wideout Odell Beckham Jr. tweeted last week.
OBJ was off by a week but who's counting? The NFL and ESPN will be loading up the video from last year and yesteryear for this one.
The game is part of the celebration of the 50th season of Monday Night Football. The very first MNF game was Jets at Browns, Sept. 21, 1970, at old Cleveland Stadium. Joe Namath, less than two years off his and the Jets' Super Bowl III conquest, vs. Pro Bowl QB Bill Nelsen and the Browns, NFC title game participants earlier that year. Keith Jackson, "Dandy Don" Meredith and Howard Cosell in the TV booth. And a football nation tuning in to see what the hype was all about. The Browns prevailed, 31-21, and Monday night would never be the quite same.
Fast-forward to 2019 and consider just a few of the connections between the teams.
Just last season, in their Week 3 Thursday night affair, Jets QB Sam Darnold dueled Browns QB Baker Mayfield. Darnold started, Mayfield came off the bench for his first pro action in the second quarter — and led a comeback to a 21-17 win that snapped the Browns' 19-game winless streak. If we know Sam, he'll want payback.
Then in the 2018 regular-season finale, Cleveland's rebound season was ended and Baltimore's postseason ticket punched by none other than Ravens MLB C.J. Mosley, who intercepted Mayfield at the Baltimore 39 with 1:02 to play to secure the Ravens' 26-24 win. Mosley's now in the middle of the Jets defense.
And how did the Browns return to relevance? Gregg Williams, their defensive coordinator for a year and a half, had something to do with that as interim head coach, guiding Cleveland to as many wins in eight games (five) as the franchise had in its previous 54 games. Now Williams is the Jets' D-coordinator.
The Jets' next primetime stop will be at MetLife again, on Oct. 21 against Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots. They have played the Pats close at home since 2014 and they'll have a home stadium ready to take flight if they can trade blows with New England on this night.
It will be the first Monday nighter between the Jets and Patriots since 2010 and the first Jets home MNF game vs. the Pats since 2005 (which, in keeping with the Browns angles, was the last MNF game on ABC before ESPN took over the franchise in '06), and along with the Cleveland game will mark the first time the Jets have played two home Monday nighters since 2014.
Finally, aside from any NFL flexed games in the second half of the schedule, the Jets' third primetime affair in '19 will be at the Ravens. M&T Bank Stadium is always a tough venue for the Green & White, who are 0-5 there, beginning with the 2000 Christmas Eve loss at then-named PSINet Stadium.
It's been almost that long since the Ravens QB wasn't named Joe Flacco, but that will be the case for this one with Flacco in Denver and second-year man Lamar Jackson now under center. And it's been since 2014 that their MLB didn't have MOSLEY stitched on his back. The plan will be for C.J. to lead his new defense against Jackson and the Ravens for a much-hoped-for late-season primetime win for the New York Jets in Crabcake City.