New York Jets Therapy Session – Defensive Fourth Quarter Slippage


Cole Patterson continues his New York Jets Therapy Session series. Make sure to check for these every Thursday and to give him a follow on Twitter

Let us start this New York Jets Therapy Session by examining the symptoms, three incidents in particular:


Tampa Bay: The first game of the season was a low scoring affair that saw the Jets trail into the fourth, despite the defense forcing a safety, numerous pre-snap offensive penalties, and an interception. The Jets punted the ball with 2:21 left on the clock. The defense allowed Josh Freeman (yes, he who was recently released) to take the Buccaneers offense (yes, the one ranked 31st in the league after five games) deep into Jets territory on a drive that included a 37 yard bomb to Vincent Jackson and a 17 yard run by Doug Martin (who, until that drive, was averaging 1.9 yards per carry). Only a whirlwind drive, with 34 seconds on the clock, with no time outs, orchestrated by a raw rookie in his first start earned the Jets a W.

Buffalo: Going into the fourth quarter the Jets were on top of the Bills 20-12. The defense had baffled rookie EJ Manuel all game and held the floundering Bills offense to four field goals. The Jets seemed to get significant pressure on the rattled rookie every play and held Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller to a limited output. However, with time winding down the defense loosened and allowed Manuel to orchestrate a six play – eighty yard scoring drive, in under three minutes, to tie up the game. The Jets once again leaned on their rookie who was able to bring them back with a beautiful 69 yard bomb to Santonio Holmes.

Atlanta: The Jets were up, 27 – 14 early in the fourth quarter. The defense dominated for most of the game, limiting the Falcons running game to a pretty pedestrian level and keeping the explosive trio of Gonzalez, Jones, and White in check. Only after they were up by 2 possessions did the Jets defense begin springing leaks. Matt Ryan, after being stymied most of the game, commanded two efficient scoring drives that left the Jets defense on their heels. After controlling much of the game, the Jets needed another Geno Smith fourth quarter comeback to ice the game.

*Note: At no point in the Patriots, Titans, or Steelers games did the Jets have a lead in the fourth. An issue for another time.

Diagnosis: So, what can one glean from these three games?

  1. The Jets won all three.
  2. The win came at the hands of a fourth quarter comeback from rookie Geno Smith.
  3. They all came at the heels of a blown lead in the fourth quarter.

This is a serious issue. The Jets defense blew a fourth quarter lead, after playing a lights out first three quarters, in all three of the Jets wins. Seeing a rookie quarterback take command and show the wherewithal necessary to drive a team to victory is something of a silver lining. However, the Jets defense (ranked 5th overall) has been touted as a strength of the team. As such, it should not force an inexperienced signal caller into such adverse situations. The most frightening aspect of the Jets defense tendency to blow fourth quarter lead is that it is not strictly isolated to the 2013 season. Rex Ryan’s brainchild since he became the Jets head coach has consistently lost control in the fourth quarter and put the offense in a bad position. This is a classic case of fourth quarter slippage.


The Jets defense has played outstanding in the first three quarters of games in five years under Rex Ryan. They have even held on to their fair share of leads. However, three of six games in one year that reflect numerous performances in years prior, constitute a disturbing trend. The fact that one of the best motivators and defensive minds in the game has not been able to solve the issue makes treatment difficult. This begs the question however…

Defensive Adjustment: Perhaps one of the biggest knocks on Ryan in his Jets tenure has been his inability to adjust in game. His schemes and game plans going into a matchup are unparalleled and often help the defense take over games. However, when an offense finds the chink in the Jets armor they are able to exploit it. Perhaps offenses have been deciphering the defense and attacking perceived weaknesses. It may require a preemptive scheme switch going into the fourth quarter or more reactionary changes from the coach, but this needs to be addressed. Three quarters of dominant defense will not cut it against a modern NFL offense.

Offensive Adjustment: The Jets offensive play callers have tended to lean on a conservative game plan late in the game, perhaps due to a preconceived understanding of the defense’s fourth quarter slippage.  This conservatism may be part of the problem however. While instituting this game plan the Jets offense has had little success running the clock and moving the chains. Never mind scoring, but these two aspects of offensive production are key to sealing a game. The Jets offensive minds may consider occasionally aggressive play calling to opposing defenses on their toes, keep the clock moving, and allowing the defense to rest and adjust.


  • LIJetsFan

    I’ve gotten the impression that Ryan chokes in the 4th quarter. We don’t have any ball hawks on defense like we did in years past. We definitely need an upgrade in that department at safety. You can’t play 4th quarter prevent w/o a ball hawk or two.

  • KAsh

    No, this is a case of a fan base spoiled rotten. Every week, you get a near perfect performance from your defense. They shut down the opposing offense and neutralize its talent as much as possible, sometimes taking elite players completely out of the game. But then these elite players, some of them bound for the HoF, who have had more than half the game of being shut down to think about what they can and cannot do against this defense, decide that they refuse to bend over and curl up into the fetal position. They have a successful drive (in the case of Atlanta, with Matty Ice, Julio, and Tony each one of the best at his position, two drives). And Jet fans go apeshit.

    Yes, Rex does not have a “bend, don’t break” mentality. I do not know if he would be as effective as he is if he did. His plan is to force offenses into doing things they do not want to do. Once in a while, those things actually work. But don’t cut off your nose to spite your face.

  • joeydefiant

    THe biggest pet peeve I have is when teams start playing the “prevent” defense. If you have shut the team down all game why switch to a prevent defense? Keep doing what has been working. Prevent D makes it too easy for good QB’s to march down the field with a bunch of short/mid range passes. Coaches still haven’t changed their end game philosophy even tho the rules have made it too easy to pass the ball down the field. Unless you are up by two or more scores I would never switch to prevent D. Everytime it’s used it gets carved up. And it’s not just the Jets. Every game I watch it seems like they are letting the other team catch up so they don’t lose TV ratings. The closest I would go would be a cover-2 type prevent where receivers going deep the corner would get safety help.
    Teams don’t practice the prevent D nearly as much as the base D and whatever wrinkles were installed for the game plan. Why put guys in a position where they have not gotten significant reps all week at the end when the game is on the line. IT DRIVES ME CRAZY AND ALWAYS SEEMS TO FAIL.

  • Mark Phelan

    Could it be our D just gets tired?

  • I like Rex and think he’s a good, solid D coordinator.
    But if you look at his career in Baltimore and NY its clear that his schemes require elite players on every level of the D. The Ravens had HOF safety, LB and D line players. Remeber how dominating this Jet D was with
    Jenkins clogging up the middle, Pace and Scott (were still playing at a high level) putting pressure in the backfield and Harris was stuffing runs? Revis effectively taking the best reciever out of the game enabled the mediocre safeties we have had to take some risks.

    I still think we are one shuttdown CB, one elite ballhawk safety and one pure pass rush OLB away from being a dominating D capable of totaly destroying any attempt at a 4th quarter comeback by the opponent.

    We have to ask ourselves the question – is Rex really one of the best defensive minds in the game without the pro-bowl talent all over the field on defense he has had at times during his coaching career?

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  • KAsh

    The real question is: would any of that talent be considered for the Hall of Fame without Rex?

    Take Revis. A good corner, but here comes Rex and puts him on an island and he morphs into QB-nightmare shutdown-o-tron. Now, he is sitting in Tampa in zone coverage; is anyone really frightened of him anymore?

    The Chargers gave up on Cromartie; Rex and the Jets made him into the great Pro-Bowl corner and Revis-replacement.
    Suggs became special once Ryan started coaching him on the d-line.
    Wilkerson, Coples, Richardson, and even Wilson: how many other coaches have drafted complete busts, unworkable players that had problems finding work after their initial contract, in the first round?
    Finally, you have Harrison, undrafted, and Allen, a sixth-round pick, starting in their sophmore season and playing at a good level.

    You have to give Rex credit for coaching the talent around him into something special.