Gregg Williams, Jamal Adams, Jordan Jenkins
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images, AP Photo

Don’t blame Gregg Williams’s defense for the New York Jets atrocious play in 2019. The unit deserves tremendous credit. 

The New York Jets defense has struggled at times this year. That is especially true of their pass defense and red zone defense. However, Gregg Williams’s unit deserves credit for what they’re doing out on the field.

They are currently ranked 11th in the NFL in defensive DVOA and represent a borderline top 10 defense despite everything surrounding this team this year.

No Avery Williamson, C.J. Mosley, legitimate starting cornerbacks, Leonard Williams or competent edge rush … no problem. Gregg Williams has found a way to get this defense to play strong and play hard.

The Jets have the second least missed tackles in the NFL this year; only the Patriots have fewer. That takes work and discipline, something that Gregg Williams has put into his unit.

Effort and work, something that the Jets offense has completely lacked. So, don’t lump the Jets defense in with the pitiful Jets offense this year. They are pulling their weight. This is a defense a team can win with.

Run Defense

The Jets have had one of the best run defenses the NFL has seen in a long time. They are allowing a measly 3.0 yards per rush. That’s the best in the NFL since the 2010 Steelers.

The Jets rush defense is second in DVOA. The reason is the Jets have allowed 10 rushing touchdowns this season. That’s the lone negative that can be seen on this Jets rush defense, though.

They are third in the NFL in tackles for loss, with the two of the teams ahead of them having played 10 games while the Jets have played nine.

The Jets rank first in the NFL in run stuff percentage. They also rank first in adjusted line yards by a defensive line.

The Jets defensive line has been the best one in the NFL at stopping the run. What’s even more amazing is that the Jets run defense has been better since they traded Leonard Williams.

Over the two games since they traded him, they have allowed just 73 yards combined. That’s good for 1.8 yards per rush. When quarterbacks are removed from the equation, it gets even worse. In the last two games, backs have rushed for only 1.5 yards per attempt.

The Jets have also been getting into the backfield more. In the last two games, the Jets have 17 tackles for loss. To show how impressive that is, that’s more than half of the TFL than the Dolphins, Bengals, Packers, Seahawks, Bears, Cowboys and Texans each have individually this season.

This is a Jets’ run defense that is without Williamson and Mosely, too. Both of them graded out as elite run defenders at the inside linebacker position by PFF in 2018. That’s how special this Jets run defense has been this year.

What makes it better, though, is that most of the players responsible are young guys. Foley Fatukasi, Nathan Shepherd, Quinnen Williams and Kyle Phillips have led the charge for the Jets defensive front.

Even the older guys like Steve McLendon and Henry Anderson are both under contract next season.

The Jets run defense has a chance to be special for years to come and that should give Jets fans hope for the future.

Pass Defense

Much has been made of the Jets’ awful pass defense. They have the worst CB situation in the league, hands down. Yet, they still manage to not be downright awful. Instead, the Jets pass defense is 24th in DVOA.

A big reason for that is the Jets don’t rank bottom 10 in either air yards allowed or YAC allowed. The Jets are also 15th in the NFL in first down allowed through the air and they’re 15th in passing TDs allowed.

They have been serviceable in pass defense when looking at the stats. The big knock on them, though, is the lack of turnovers. The Jets have only five interceptions this year. That’s a big deal.

Turnovers change the game. They get the defense off the field and give the offense good field position. Turnovers put your team in a position to win football games and the Jets defense doesn’t do that.

So while the Jets pass defense should absolutely get credit for not being as atrocious as it could be, they should also get dinged for the lack of turnovers.

However, the should get credit for holding up despite the complete lack of a pass rush. The Jets rank fourth in the NFL in blitz percentage. They blitz an astonishing 39.2% of the time.

Despite that, they rank just 23rd in hurries, 21st in pressures and 26th in sacks. The Jets CBs should get some credit for not being bottom 10 in any major passing defense category.

With how awful the Jets pass rush is, that’s a major accomplishment for the secondary.

This Jets’ pass defense needs a lot of work. They need edge rushers and they need real starting CBs. Despite that, they’ve still been relatively serviceable this year.

That says a lot about the job Gregg Williams has done this year. It also speaks volumes to the potential of this Jets defense if they could just find the final pieces.

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