Make no mistake about it. The New York Jets young and energetic defense is one studly element away from NFL dominance that could take the organization a long way and today, we grade each personnel package.
It was the night of Thursday, Nov. 2, 2018. The New York Jets placed a proper spanking on the eventually playoff-bound Buffalo Bills—a 34-21 home victory featuring 194 total yards on the ground and a rabid Jets defense ready to move to anything.
The Dancin’ Jets Defense had taken over the internet.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) November 3, 2017
The boys enjoyed the primetime affair that sent them to a record of 4-5. Social media enjoyed the Dancin’ Jets enjoying it.
Unfortunately, the rest of the season didn’t quite work out for those dancin’ fools in green.
By the time it was all over and done with, Todd Bowles’ pride and joy (defense) finished 25th in the NFL in total defense (352.2 yards per game). Additionally, neither the rushing (24th) or passing (20th) defense was stellar. So how in the world could a defense who performed so poorly in one season find themselves on the brink of dominance the next?
It’s quite simple, really. Young talent is developing while covering all bases involved. The only thing missing is a legitimate edge pass-rushing threat.
Due to the nature of this massive hole—one that rivals the worst in the league—the Jets defense could never possibly labeled as even “solid.” It wouldn’t make a sound difference if Pro Football Hall of Famers lined up four across in the secondary and four deep within the interior of a 3-4 scheme (three interior defensive lineman and two inside linebackers).
Without the ability to pressure the opposing QB with a conventional four-man rush, everything suffers.
The interior rushers (hello, Leonard Williams) face unbeatable double-teams. The middle backers suddenly have a tougher time in terms of picking up backfield routes and filling the game sideline-to-sideline. The corners have to cover for that much longer while the safeties lose valuable opportunities to make plays.
As bad as this one element is, makes it that much impressive that the middle-to-backend of the defense was able to at least hold its own.
New York finished with 28 sacks a year ago. This was awful enough for 28th in the NFL. Only four teams finished with fewer. The defense also finished with the fourth most plays from scrimmage in the entire league with a cool number of 1,052.
It won’t happen in 2018 unless premiere edge talent is suddenly plucked from thin air, but make no mistake, this young defense is coming.
Just assess each personnel package and grade out each young talent at every one of the 11 positions and senses start to become a little clearer.
We begin with the standard 3-4 base: