The New York Jets will look to avoid an 0-2 start when they go to battle without Sam Darnold.
The quarterback is sidelined indefinitely due to mononucleosis, and the Jets will start Trevor Siemian when they host the Cleveland Browns on Monday night.
Darnold was losing weight and lacking energy, so the team ran some tests that detected the illness. Jets coach Adam Gase, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains and a team trainer informed Darnold late Wednesday night that he couldn’t play against Cleveland (0-1).
Gase said during a Thursday press conference of how Darnold reacted, “Not well. He wasn’t real happy about it. He knew something was up when Dowell and myself showed up. I just wanted to make sure it was delivered right, and I figured I could be the bearer of bad news on this one.”
Darnold passed for just 175 yards with one touchdown in a season-opening 17-16 loss to the Buffalo Bills. Gase said Darnold was not ill during that game.
Siemian, who was signed in the offseason as a free agent, started 24 games for the Denver Broncos over a two-season span (2016-17), so he is no stranger when it comes to leading a team. He has passed for 5,686 yards and 30 touchdowns against 24 interceptions.
Luke Falk was promoted from the practice squad to be the backup.
“I look at it like this: It starts with me and my attitude,” Gase said. “What’s our attitude going to be? The sky is falling? Or is it this is a challenge we’re going to embrace? Guys just getting tighter in the locker room and everybody coming together and doing their job as well as they can to help us win.
“I think we’re going to look back at this, and this is going to be a good thing for us. I think it’s going to bring that locker room even tighter.”
The Darnold development was an untimely one for the Jets as they prepare to play an angry Cleveland team that was pummeled 43-13 by the Tennessee Titans in its opener.
The QB’s illness seems to be a good break for the Browns, but coach Freddie Kitchens insists it will have no effect on the squad’s defensive game strategy.
“We’re going to be focused on our preparation during the week the same as we would have been before,” Kitchens told reporters at a press conference on Thursday. “We’re going to try to get after the quarterback just like we did before. We try to affect the quarterback every way we can, through coverage, through pressure. Nothing changes.”
What Kitchens hopes will change is the play as much-hyped Cleveland didn’t look like an improved club against the Titans.
The Browns were outscored 31-7 in the second half of a game in which they committed 18 penalties and second-year quarterback Baker Mayfield threw three interceptions.
“Everybody’s going to throw us in the trash, and I think that’s good,” Mayfield told reporters. “I know what type of men we have in this locker room, and quite frankly, I don’t really give a damn what happens on the outside. I know how we’re going to react, I know what we’re going to do and how we’re going to bounce back.”
Offseason acquisition Odell Beckham Jr. had seven receptions for 71 yards in his team debut. Standout defensive end Myles Garrett got off to a good start by recording two of the team’s four sacks.
Running back Le’Veon Bell had 60 yards on 17 carries in his New York debut but banged up a shoulder and was slated to undergo an MRI exam. Linebacker C.J. Mosley (groin), safety Jamal Adams (hip) and defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (ankle) are also battling ailments.
Cleveland defeated the Jets 21-17 last season to halt a five-game losing streak in the series.
—Field Level Media