Joe Benigno was right. WFAN’s most-fan relatable daily host recently proclaimed that Jets’ defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is the team’s MVP. Usually I can concur with Benigno on matters, and he hit a home run on this one. He certainly can be the the top standout and arguably can be the team’s overall MVP.
Williams has been the Jets’ best offseason acquisition, and it has been easy to see why he is highly regarded despite some speculative and shady wrinkles about some of his past actions.He has taken his 3-4 alignment without a bonafide edge rusher, starting linebackers CJ Mosely and Avery Williamson, and without a valid cornerback to start the season. Fellow linebacker James Burgess, who was cut eight times in his career, came off the practice squad and played like an All-Pro.
Williams has molded the Jets’ front seven into one of the more effective defensive fronts they have had in years with relative unknowns Folorunso Fatukasi, Nathan Shepherd, Kyle Phillips along with veterans Henry Anderson, Steve McLendon, and top pick Quinnen Williams. Bless Austin and Arthur Maulet were free-agent signings and literally developed overnight as a solid tandem. Williams also has had high productivity from his backups as well. Former Dolphins’ pick Neville Hewitt also has played at high level aside Burgess.
It has resulted into one of the top 10 units in the league and the confidence has been oozing out of them since a wrecking of Pittsburgh with a trip to Buffalo, who likely will sit some of their regulars Sunday.
If you’re a life-long Jets fan who was around for the 1968 season, you can see some mirror images of this team with the Super Bowl winning team that had some standout players merge with some relative unknown ones as one of the league’s better ones under Walt Michaels and Buddy Ryan.
The 61-year-old Williams, who had an interim stint as Cleveland’s head coach last year, and also has a three-year run with Buffalo, could be in line for a head coaching job. The Jets need to secure his services for next year as soon as possible.
New GM Joe Douglas will have his work cut out for him in the offseason with some gaping holes, but his top priority should be to bring back Williams.
As for Benigno, he and partner Evan Roberts face a stiff challenge to claim their new afternoon drive slot in January. Mike Francesa was thoroughly defeated by ESPN’s Michael Kay in his final ratings book, as Francesa left in mid-December. Kay has blended co-hosts Don LaGreca and Peter Rosenberg into a good three-way mix that has attracted a younger audience and some of the veteran group. But Benigno has the charisma and listenability along with a strong chemistry with Roberts to give Kay and Company a good run in the early going.
Like Williams is to the Jets, Benigno is a must listen for 2020 for the tri-state area in the late afternoon.