Jets Defensive Snap Count Analysis: What’s Rex Doing At Safety?

Mike O’Connor looks at the Jets’ defensive snap counts in depth from Week 12.

Due to Thanksgiving festivities, my usual snaps article comes in a little late this week. Regardless, the snap counts from the Jets’ defense versus the Ravens, which can be found here of this Rex Ryan defense is still as interesting as ever.

The first observation I have to make is one that I hope I’ve seen the end of already. Ed Reed is playing snaps that he doesn’t deserve, it’s as simple as that. He shouldn’t be starting over Antonio Allen, and him just being on the field takes away from Dawan Landry’s skillset, as you can tell from the tally that he’s playing the versatile role that Allen usually does. Allen playing only 24% is not only keeping the better player off the field more often, but it really sheds light on the flaws of Rex Ryan. Like I said, it goes beyond divvying up the playing time between players incorrectly, but Allen is a possible player of the future for this team. He’s only in his second year, and instead of having Reed simply mentor him off the field, he’s rolling with the lose-lose situation by starting Reed over him. It’s unbelievable how Rex doesn’t understand how much one decision can hurt his team in so many different ways.

Allen is currently playing a third-safety role with Reed in the starting lineup, and at least the Jets ran 21% of their snaps with three safeties on the field, their highest percentage since I began to chart that. Of course, however, that just makes Jaiquawn Jarrett’s playing time hard to come by (only three snaps this week after charting 22 or more from weeks 7-9). You can say what you want to about Jarrett, but he has performed well this year and shocked me in the process. Jarrett is also a young player, and the fact that he likely won’t get meaningful snaps over a player that he is better than as well (Reed) is a crime.

It is essentially the same argument many fans had against signing Braylon Edwards back to the team last year towards the end of the season. Bringing him in would only screw with the playing time of the younger receivers on the team already. However, the situation proves why Rex Ryan is horribly wrong this season with the decision we’ve seen before. Edwards was still a somewhat capable player; Reed is not (which was certainly proven versus his former team). More importantly, these young receivers didn’t show us any potential.  Jordan White, Mardy Gilyard, Clyde Gates, and Chaz Schilens weren’t worth developing because there was basically nothing there. Yet, Allen and Jarrett haven’t been liabilities all year, and have helped this team win games. Reed has proved himself a liability the first game he was tested.  Outside of the distraction he brings, he’s wasting a lot of our time and the team’s talent that could prove to be essential for the future.

Leger Douzable is really proving himself to be the most useful rotational defensive lineman you could have. He’s a very good player, and could probably start for multiple other NFL teams. That’s a story for another day, though. You can tell how useful he is just by his counts in the document. He’s proven before that he’s useful at every position on the line, and did so again this week with 6 snaps inside and 11 as an edge rusher. He can also play the run just as effectively as he can rush the passer, which is backed up by the nearly-alike percentages on first, second, and third down (29%, 25%, and 27% respectively). If there’s no place he can’t offer his talents, and there’s no game situation where he’s liable, where could you possibly ask for more in the game of a bench player?

Newly signed outside linebacker Jermaine Cunningham may have only managed one snap versus Baltimore, but I expect more on the way. Troy Davis was previously the Jets’ first edge rusher off the bench for Coples or Pace, but he’s now on Injured Reserve after getting absolutely speared by Courtney Upshaw while covering a kick return. With Davis unavailable and the wavering health of Garrett McIntyre, Cunningham will have a role for whenever Rex Ryan wants Pace or Coples to get a breather. Also, the reasoning for why Rex hardly gave any snaps to any outside linebackers other than the starters can be credited to how efficient the Ravens were on offense. They only ran 12 plays on third down because they were notching first downs so easily, so Rex wasn’t presented with the opportunity to get a fresh pass rusher in very often.

It is undetectable on the snap counts document, but the Jets played more traditional 3-4 base defenses than I’ve ever seen before from them this year. In fact, I really haven’t seen any in 2013 from Rex until this game. Of course, I mean “traditional” as in a nose tackle at the 0-tech, two defensive ends out at the 5-tech or both at the 3-tech, and two stand-up edge rushers. I would guess that the reasoning for this lies within the Jets’ ability to stop the run so effectively, and this time versus an atrocious run blocking offensive line. Since they could give some give versus the run inside, they wanted to better defend the edge.

It should be interesting (or infuriating) to see if Rex tries to throw an aged, bruised, and battered Antonio Cromartie out on to the field versus the Dolphins this Sunday. He only played 77% of the snaps against the Ravens because of his re-aggravated hip injury, but the Jets didn’t miss him. Darrin Walls is obviously up to the task more than Cromartie is for this Sunday with the health discrepancy for one thing, but the levels of play as another. I’ll be in attendance for this one, so I really hope Rex doesn’t worsen Cromartie’s health and the defense’s play by playing him for the sake of the innocent fans around me. I don’t want to be the one over-exaggerating, but this decision and the looming difficulties at safety will tell a story about Rex Ryan and his struggles with putting the right personnel on the field this weekend and throughout the rest of the season.