New York Jets Defense Needs Immediate Improvement

TOJ on the immediate improvement needed from the New York Jets defense if they are going to contend this season

The New York Jets defense, Rex Ryan’s pride and joy, has been maddeningly inconsistent this season. They dominated in the second half against San Diego, the entire Buffalo game, and then for the first 29 minutes of the New England game. Since then they were embarrassed on a two minute drive, the entire second half against the Patriots, and after handling the Tim Tebow circus for 56 minutes, laid an egg on the final drive.

There are parts of this defense seriously lacking in athleticism and speed. Bart Scott has been a major liability all season and is consistently either missing a tackle, getting knocked down or moved out of place. Calvin Pace is supposed to be the team’s top pass rusher but has 4 sacks in 10 games, 2 of which came against Miami when Matt Moore was receiving his first start and they still hadn’t won a game yet. He doesn’t disrupt the passer enough. Between the two of them and the subpar platoon at Bryan Thomas’ old spot, it has been painful at times to watch the Jets linebackers lumbering around the field.

At safety, we all know what the problem is. Rex Ryan can try to cover for him all he wants in his press conferences but Eric Smith has been terrible this season. Blowing contain on Tim Tebow’s game winning touchdown provided a nice illustration of what he has brought to the defense this year. He can’t cover. He misses too many tackles for a guy supposed to be known for his run defense and has a knack for untimely penalties. Jim Leonhard is an average player at safety, who can’t afford to be complimented by a below average player.

These are all issues the Jets will have to coach around for the rest of the season. They managed to do it last year, but can they pull it off again? A healthy Brodney Pool wouldn’t hurt. Antonio Cromartie playing with some heart and more physicality (not dancing to avoid tackles) would help as well. There are positives on the defense, namely the development of the line, Darrelle Revis, David Harris, and the growth of Kyle Wilson. Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine are good defensive minds but they need to push this unit to the next level immediately to support an increasingly incompetent offense.

The Jets have 12 upcoming quarters to feast on the fading Ryan Fitzpatrick, Rex Grossman, and Tyler Palko. Can they take advantage or will they disappoint us like they did in the final minutes of Thursday night?

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the VP of Social Media at Whistle Sports

  • Keith

    Jets will make the playoffs @ 10-6 they only have 2 games left that are hard. Eagles 4-6 who by then should be done for the year and the NYG 6-4. The Jets should go 5-1 down the road and make the playoffs. The bengals are fading fast opening the 6 seed they still got to play the ravens steelers texans rams browns cards. NYJ will get into the playoffs this year bet on it! They will also either go to the Texans or Raiders or Chargers all teams they can beat so they will be right back in the thick of it. Packers last year won a bunch late and kept it going through the playoffs just last year. Hell 9-7 might even get a WC spot but Jets really need to get that 10-6 we lost to way to many AFC teams to deal with tie breakers.

  • Emil

    I can’t help but wonder whether their lack of anybody who can remotely rush the passer is hurting their woeful offensive line. If you practice against lame linemen utterly incapable of penetrating, gameday against an athletic front must be that much harder!!!!

  • John

    Couldn’t agree more especially about Leornard and Smith. Both guys suck in my opinion. Along with Mark Sanchez who likes a high school QB at best. Let’s face it he never really played that well at USC.

  • Let’s face it ! The Jets are playing scared. They can’t protect the quarterback. Can’t tackle their grandmother. The Dumb backs can’t cover a kitten with a blanket and the rest of the defense (w/few exceptions) try to to knock down ball carriers instead of putting their shoulders into the runners and putting a hurt on them. The Jets are scared to hit anyone. And Sanchez is like a deer in the headlights. Can’t move in the pocket; throws all short passes (inaccurate).He hasn’t improved any. Throw the ball to your receivers on long routes. Oh, never mind, these ladies will never have the guts to go out and win.