I spend the majority of my time on this site writing about the New York Jets offense. For today’s 12 Pack, I’d like to talk defense before breaking into our weekly predictions.
One of the most prominent points in the argument to keep Rex Ryan is bemoaning the loss of his defensive acumen. In 2009 and for big chunks of 2010, the Jets had an elite defense. They were 5th in total defense in 2011 but they didn’t have the same dominant feel anymore, especially when they Philadelphia dropped 45 points on them in a critical late season game and then the Giants scored 29 the following week in a death blow to their playoff chances. Regardless, they were still a very good overall unit.
Last season, the regression continued. The Jets were 8th in total defense, thanks to being 2nd in the NFL against the pass (they were 26th against the run). Numbers can lie a bit, as the Jets were frequently behind in 2012, meaning teams were rarely challenging them through the air. They also struggled to consistently force turnovers and sack the quarterback, an ongoing problem throughout Rex’s tenure here.
This season the Jets are down to 12th in total defense, thanks to their dominance against the run (1st in the NFL). They are putrid against the pass (25th in the NFL) and still cannot regularly force turnovers. While being strong against the run is nice, considering today’s NFL, being awful against the pass easily cancels out the production against team’s ground games. This isn’t an elite defense. It isn’t a great defense and many weeks it is barely a good defense.
A current inventory of the Jets defense shows the following: a dominant, interior defensive line. Muhammad Wilkerson is the second best 3-4 end in the NFL, Damon Harrison has been an All-Pro nose tackle this season and Sheldon Richardson has been Pro-Bowl caliber. However, they remain average to below average off the edge. Quinton Coples has been coming on strong lately but still needs to put together an entire, healthy season as full time player. Calvin Pace has been good on a minimum contract in 2013 but this is likely his last season. Without question, this team needs to address the long standing hole at outside linebacker.
At inside linebacker, the Jets are good, not great. David Harris has had a solid bounce-back season from 2012. Demario Davis has a good skillset and is strong against the run but still struggles against the pass.
In the secondary, they are brutal right now. Antonio Cromartie’s play has fell off a cliff and simply put, he has been one of the worst corners in football this year. He won’t be back next season, unless he agrees to a substantial pay cut. Dee Milliner has had a very rough rookie season. There is no reason that Darrin Walls shouldn’t have played more early in the season and shouldn’t be playing over Cromartie right now. In the back end, Rex has made an indefensible gaffe by taking away nearly all of Antonio Allen’s reps for Ed Reed, who needed a situational role here…not a full time role. Allen was having a promising sophomore season and now his unjustified benching could hurt his progress. Dawan Landry is an average player at best at the other safety spot.
Since Rex Ryan has been the team’s head coach, they’ve done an excellent job developing talent on the defensive line but really nowhere else. Rex has done some great things on the defensive side of the ball but let’s not act like the Jets currently have the 1985 Bears defense.
Anyway, on to the predictions this week in what should be a RIVETING battle between the Jets and Raiders.
1. I predict the Jets will score a touchdown…maybe even two this week. Glad we got that out of the way.
2. Jeremy Kerley will have 4 receptions in his return, a few of which will convert big third downs.
3. Chris Ivory will run for at least 80 yards and have a touchdown.
4. Matt McGloin will throw for at least 200 yards and one touchdown. He will be intercepted once and sacked twice.
5. Oakland will run for less than 75 yards as a team.
6. Santonio Holmes will play less than 50% of the overall snaps and have 2 receptions.
7. Nick Folk will knock through two field goals on two attempts.
8. Dee Milliner will get beat for at least one deep ball down the field.
9. Antonio Allen will play in at least 35% of the snaps.
10. Quinton Coples will have another sack.
11. Geno. Geno. Geno. I have no idea what to predict. I’ll set the bar low and say he finishes the game under center.
12. I must be insane but I think the Jets will win 20-19. This is the most winnable game left on their schedule and they’ll squeak it out.