The New York Jets frustrating loss to the Buffalo Bills highlights why there are very legitimate concerns with the team’s defense.
There are many reasons to be concerned. The offense managed only one touchdown (C.J. Mosley’s pick-six), kicker Kaare Vedvik missed an extra point and a field goal and Sam Darnold was under pressure all game. However, there’s a larger issue than any of that for the team.
The cornerback group is simply not good enough to inspire confidence that leads this team to maintain late leads. Josh Allen, another second-year quarterback, carved them up for 254 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions (both recorded by linebackers on tipped balls).
Allen, a quarterback who struggled with accuracy and ball placement last season, was able to carve up the Jets secondary. This shouldn’t come as a large surprise, as people knew it would be an issue this season. Although, it’s still disappointing.
The team knew that depth would be a concern, but Gregg Williams had been hoping that Trumaine Johnson could lock up No. 1 receivers, freeing him up to scheme against the other side of the field. It’s even more crucial to be able to cover on a team that struggles to generate a pass rush from the edges.
Johnson was shadowing John Brown, who is the Bills No. 1 receiver by default more than anything else, and he got absolutely torched. Brown toyed with Johnson, snagging seven passes for 123 yards and a touchdown on 10 targets.
It’s only one game, of course, but Johnson struggled mightily last season as well. It won’t get any easier for him after this week either, as he’ll see Odell Beckham Jr., Antonio Brown-Josh Gordon (twice), Alshon Jeffrey and Amari Cooper over the next five games. If Johnson can’t get himself figured out soon it could get real ugly real fast for the Jets.
Brian Poole and Darryl Roberts were able to avoid getting lit up too badly, as Cole Beasley was the only other receiver to top 20 yards (five grabs for 40 yards). But that doesn’t matter as much when the No. 1 cornerback is getting beat for 12.3 yards-per-target.
However, the corners were also unable to make any big plays. Inside linebackers C.J. Mosley and Neville Hewitt both had interceptions off of passes that were tipped. Mosley’s was off a receiver, and Hewitt’s was off edge rusher Harvey Langi. Mosley and nose tackle Steve McClendon recovered both of Allen’s fumbles.
Defense in the modern NFL is about making plays on the ball. The passing attacks are just too complex and the rules are too in favor of the offense to count on being able to play lockdown coverage on wide receivers. Your cornerbacks need to be able to create turnovers and your No. 1 can’t get torched as Johnson did.
The cornerback group needs to step their play up, and fast. If not, Darnold is going to have to perform a lot of miracles to keep the Jets season from dying before it starts.