A big reason the Jets pass defense has struggled so much this season (they are currently ranked 20thin the NFL) has been their inability to stop opposing team’s tight ends. The overwhelming bulk of this blame falls on safeties Jim Leonhard, Eric Smith, and Brodney Pool, who are all having disappointing seasons on the defensive side of the football.
First off, here is a quick run through of what opposing team’s tight ends have done to the Jets this year -
- Week 1 – Todd Heap - 6 receptions, 72 yards
- Week 2 – Aaron Hernandez – 6 receptions, 101 yards
- Week 3- Anthony Fasano – 2 receptions, 14 yards, 1 TD
- Week 4 – David Nelson – 4 receptions, 75 yards/David Martin - 1 reception, 4 yards, 1 TD
- Week 9- Brandon Pettigrew - 3 receptions, 18 yards, 1 TD/Tony Scheffler - 2 receptions, 22 yards
- Week 10 – Benjamin Watson – 5 receptions, 74 yards
So while it appeared the Jets had solved this problem with a three game streak of shutting down the tight end against Minnesota, Denver, and Green Bay, the problem has now reappeared. Teams aren’t hesitating to throw on the Jets safeties and with good reason.
Jim Leonhard has been scrappy as usual and good in run support. Yet he only has 2 passes defensed and 0 interceptions. It is difficult for him to match-up on most tight ends because of his height. Eric Smith has 1 pass defensed and 0 interceptions. Both have been called on numerous pass interference and illegal contact penalties this season. Brodney Pool does have 5 passes defensed and an interception (back in week 2) but doesn’t seem to be around the football enough, with only 22 tackles.
One the pieces that is still missing in Rex Ryan’s defense is a big time, playmaking safety.
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