June 25, 2024

The New York Jets had a challenging season in 2023, primarily due to the struggles of their offense. Losing Aaron Rodgers early in the season and facing issues with the offensive line contributed significantly to their difficulties. Despite these setbacks, the Jets managed to win seven games, largely attributed to their robust defense. However, the question arises: Was the defense performing at its optimal level?

Assessing the defense based on yards allowed per game reveals an impressive performance by the Jets, ranking third in the NFL with only 292.3 yards allowed per game. This is particularly noteworthy considering the sporadic effectiveness of the offense.

Examining points allowed per game, the Jets conceded an average of 20.9 points, placing them 12th in the league. Given the challenges faced by the offense, this remains a respectable position.

Looking ahead to the 2024 season, the Jets will retain most of their starting defensive lineup. Key players such as Quincy Williams, C.J. Mosley, Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, Michael Carter, Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, Jermaine Johnson, and Tony Adams are all under contract. Decisions will need to be made regarding the budget allocation for Bryce Huff, and potential adjustments may be considered for Franklin-Myers due to his high salary.

Recognizing that every NFL team undergoes changes each season, even with a consistent roster, the Jets face the challenge of ensuring improvement in 2024. Despite the natural ebb and flow of player effectiveness, two strategies could contribute to enhancing the Jets’ defensive unit in the upcoming season.

In the 2024 season, the Jets implemented a solid defensive scheme; however, there was room for improvement in strategic game planning against specific opponents. Each team in the NFL presents unique challenges to a defense, and the Jets adhered to a consistent defensive scheme throughout the season. While this approach ensured minimal missed assignments and enhanced players’ understanding of their roles, it also made the team predictable, as opposing teams had access to comprehensive tape on the Jets’ defensive strategy.

Notably, the Jets’ standout cornerback, Sauce Gardner, consistently lined up on the same side every week. This predictability allowed opponents to strategically position their key receivers away from Gardner’s coverage, exploiting potential mismatches. On crucial downs, the Jets frequently employed a cover 3 zone, leaving opponents’ receivers free of press or man-to-man coverage, particularly benefiting teams with a standout single receiver.

Several instances highlighted the challenges faced by the Jets in defending against top receivers:

– In Week 1, the Buffalo Bills heavily targeted Stefon Diggs, resulting in 10 receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown.
– In Week 2, the Dallas Cowboys focused on CeeDee Lamb, connecting for 11 receptions for 143 yards.
– In Week 9, the Los Angeles Chargers honed in on Keenan Allen, who recorded 8 receptions for 77 yards.
– In Week 10, the Las Vegas Raiders heavily targeted Davante Adams, resulting in 6 receptions for 86 yards.

Despite these challenges, the Jets continued with a consistent defensive approach against teams with multiple quality wide receivers or those without a standout receiver. The absence of specific game plans to neutralize opposing teams’ top receivers potentially hindered the Jets’ competitiveness against top-tier opponents.

Implementing strategies such as double teams, bracket coverages, safety support, or trap coverages could have limited the effectiveness of a single opposing receiver. While it might not have propelled the Jets into playoff contention, such adjustments could have provided a better chance to compete against formidable opponents, with the potential to influence game outcomes through critical defensive plays.

The Jets, adopting the team motto “All gas, no brake,” demonstrated an aggressive defensive approach in the 2023 season. This mentality contributed to the team accumulating 48 sacks, tying for the 7th most in the NFL. However, the downside of this aggressive style became evident in the Jets allowing the 8th most rushing yards during the season.

Quinnen Williams stood out as a stellar performer among the defensive tackles, registering 62 tackles and 5.5 sacks. Pro Football Focus recognized Williams as the #1 run defender in the NFL at the defensive tackle position for the 2023 season. Despite Williams’ outstanding contributions, the defensive tackle group as a whole faced challenges. Solomon Thomas, although achieving a career-high in sacks, ranked poorly in run defense, landing as the 126th run defender out of 130 players. Similarly, Quinton Jefferson, with a career-high in sacks, rated 91st out of 130 players in run defense.

NFL: New York Jets at New England Patriots

While the Jets employ a rotational strategy with various defensive tackles, their abilities are often similar, with the exception of Quinnen Williams. The team’s defensive approach could benefit from incorporating run-stopping specialists on early downs, allowing Williams to conserve energy for pivotal moments in second and third downs.

Looking at the deceptive statistic of allowing 4.1 yards per rushing attempt, it becomes clear that the Jets faced a high number of rushing attempts due to being behind in many games. Opponents often ran the ball to run out the clock, allowing the Jets to adjust their defensive line or position inside linebackers closer to the line for quick stops.

As both Solomon Thomas and Quinton Jefferson are free agents, the upcoming offseason presents an opportunity for the Jets to seek players with stronger run-stopping skills to complement Quinnen Williams. A solid run defense can make opponents one-dimensional, particularly with the Jets possessing one of the best secondaries in the NFL. This strategic adjustment would force opponents into challenging third-and-long situations, creating opportunities for innovative defensive tactics and potential turnovers.

While the Jets’ defense excelled in 2023, there is room for improvement in 2024. Minor changes, especially with a roster featuring multiple standout playmakers, can make a significant difference in enhancing overall performance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *