In the land of the New York Jets, it feels disastrous that David Harris will miss “Monday Night Football.” In the end, it could help matters.
The skies in and around Florham Park, New Jersey couldn’t be grayer. If your 6-year-old kid was handed a brand-spanking new pack of Crayola’s, he/she couldn’t color in a grayer picture for the New York Jets.
(On second thought, perhaps your child could, as there are plenty of colors in the mega 360 color count box … but I digress.)
Forget the fact that Harris ranks second on the squad with 25 solo tackles this season, he’s the quarterback of the unit. He’s the MIKE of the defense whose responsibility is to receive calls in his headset and make sure his men are lined up in the appropriate spot on every play.
He’s been the rock of New York’s defense since his rookie season of 2007.
Conventional thought aside, it’s not all doom and gloom for the Jets. Interestingly enough, Harris’s absence may benefit the Jets on Monday Night Football.
David Harris, while he can still plug holes and run stuff with the best of them, struggles mightily in the passing game. Actually, that statement alone doesn’t do his pass coverage justice. Harris could very well be the worst pass covering starting linebacker in the league.
The Jets entered Week 6 ranking 31st in the NFL in pass defense (303 yards per game). Against the run — after Sunday’s afternoon games had completed and Ezekiel Elliot had torched the Packers in Green Bay — New York now leads the league in run defense (68.4).
Those numbers just feel off, right? I mean, how could a defense be so bad against the pass yet so dominant against the run with a less than stellar 1-4 record?
The reason boils down to coaching.
Todd Bowles has continued his madness of ancient defensive philosophies that always overloads defensive personnel against the run and leaves the pass as a secondary thought. It’s something that simply cannot be done in today’s NFL, yet Bowles continues to throw an older Harris out there in sub situations.
Now that Harris won’t be available on Monday night, perhaps Bowles starts throwing dime and quarter looks on the field when it makes sense.
This is the hope. This is what we’ve been calling for all season long.
Instead of obsessively matching up with two linebackers against all 3 WR, 1 TE, 1 RB looks, Harris’s absence could force Bowles to leave Darron Lee, and only Darron Lee as the only nickel linebacker on the field.
A specific personnel base that would look like this:
In this specific look, Calvin Pryor would play his more comfortable spot in the box and Antonio Allen would make for a great partner playing alongside Marcus Gilchrist. Loading up with six defensive backs would also play into the defense’s strength, which is allowing those beasts up front (Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Leonard Williams) to earn their money and stop the run without any unneeded help.
If Bowles doesn’t heed this advice, Erin Henderson, another LB who struggles mightily in the passing game, will play alongside Lee in sub situations and Carson Palmer will torch the Jets through the air.
Obviously, nobody wants to see a fearless leader like Harris go down via injury. He’s a net-plus to the Jets defense when handled right.
Unfortunately, Bowles isn’t handling him right. Instead of pretending he can still run with those bad (fast) boys in passing situations, Harris’s head coach needs to understand a lighter package is necessary when 3rd-and-longs show face.
Then, and only then will David Harris hold his true value at 32-years of age for the New York Jets.
Perhaps this injury will force the head coach of the New York Jets to see the obvious light.