Diagnosis: It seems that the New York Jets defense is having trouble getting out of bed in the morning. The defense is dragging its heels, losing races to snails, and pacing themselves to continental drift. Lethargy is a condition in which the patient experiences drowsiness, listlessness, sluggishness, and inactivity. These symptoms appear to describe the state of the Jets 2012 defense, a unit weighed down by the fossilized remains of Bryan Thomas, Bart Scott, Sione Pouha, and Calvin Pace. Though 3/4ths of the problem players have been replaced with speedier options – in Demario Davis, Antwan Barnes, Kenrick Ellis and (to some degree) Quinton Coples – the turbo charged 2013 defense looked a lot like the 2012 horse-drawn-carriage unit when faced with the ever-intimidating, Blaine Gabbert led hurry up offense.
– Prolonged drives
– Blaine Gabbert winning a starting job in the NFL
– Losing the time of possession battle
– Exhausted defense
Preparation: According to multiple sources in attendance at Florham Park, Geno Smith executed the hurry up offense to perfection and torched the Jets starting unit in team drills yesterday. This situation presents both bad and good news. Bad news first. The Jets defensive minds have yet to find a way to address the problem and handle the speed at which a hurry up offense executes. Now the good news! The Jets coaching staff have apparently realized their deficiency in defending the hurry up and are having the first team offense use the hurry up with the hope that the defense can conjure up a way to stop it.
In-Game Awareness and Substitutions: The hurry up offense is just as hard to execute as it is to defend and is only as effective as the on-field personnel. Players executing a hurry up must be in shape, aware, and versatile. The quarterback, offensive line, backs, and receivers must all be on the same page. Any miscues can lead to debilitating penalties and mistakes. If a player that is not physically conditioned or intended to play in the hurry up is on the field, they must be subbed out. According to the NFL substitution rules, the defense must be able to sub in a player if the offense has done the same. Last year, prior to their first bout with New England, the Jets contacted the league office to ensure that the officials properly enforced the substitution rules when the Patriots broke out their “borderline illegal” hurry up offense that burned Denver the week prior. So, it is clear that the Jets are aware of the substitution rule and were just unable to use it to their advantage against the Jags. Perhaps they were unprepared for Gabbert to break out the hurry up but the coaching staff must be able to substitute when the defense does the same.
Get Healthy and Get Fast: The Jets supposedly addressed the problem of speed on defense this off season (as a reaction to the Patriots breakneck hurry up offense). Demario Davis took over for Bart ‘The Slug’ Scott, Quinton Coples and Kenrick Ellis were supposed to add speed to the spots vacated by Pouha and Thomas, Davis Harris was supposed have a bounce back year, and Antwan Barnes was supposed to relieve Calvin Pace. However, both Ellis and Coples are now injured, Harris looks slower than ever, and Pace is getting an inexplicable number of reps over Barnes. The Jets had a plan this season. Use the versatility and speed of players like Wilkerson, Coples, Richardson, Ellis, Davis, and Barnes to create a front seven that could handle the tempo of a hurry up, while allowing the back end to do their thing. Coples and Ellis need to get healthy and Barnes needs to see more of the field if the Jets defense is going to be able to keep up with the Patriots, Eagles, and (apparently) Jaguars of the league.