New York Jets – Reviewing the Defense – Week 3

The Jets lost a thriller to the Bears on Monday night, but after three weeks they now have the top rush defense and second ranked overall defense in the NFL. Who stood out? What was the underrated highlight of the night? And of course, time to hand out awards…

Stand out play of the week – Pace sets the edge on Matt Forte four yard loss:

JetsZoneForteRun

Relatively simple stuff here on both sides of the ball. The Bears bring out a 6th offensive linemen (across from Coples next to the left tackle). They also stack both their wide outs on the opposite side of this tackle to keep the Jets guessing which direction they are running the ball.

The Jets counter this perfectly because they technically have three “safeties” on the field. Calvin Pryor plays as the deep safety in the middle as the last line of defense if the ball comes his way from either side. Antonio Allen sits high behind Coples who will rush off the edge.

On the opposite side, Darrin Walls is playing off coverage on Alshon Jeffery. Dawan Landry plays the short zone in front of Calvin Pryor, making Walls the only player in man coverage on this play. The middle linebacker tandem of Demario Davis and David Harris are in a true zone. The Jets defense sees the tight formation and the extra linemen, allowing them to inch up towards the line of scrimmage expecting the run.

PaceEdge

Pace (highlighted in red) darts past the line of scrimmage and Bears’ wide out Alshon Jeffery is late on moving inside to block him. The right guard pulls to seal the outside, but is forced to take on Pace because Jeffery missed him. Cutler fakes a fullback dive and turns to flip it to running back Matt Forte. Darrin Walls (red arrow) sees a free lane on the oncoming toss and heads towards the line of scrimmage. Every other player behind the defensive line remains in their zone, waiting to read and react to the ball. The outcome:

Excellent wrap up by Walls 1 on 1 vs. Matt Forte. Mo Wilkerson also fights through the offensive line to the backfield as insurance, which Walls fortunately did not need. This play sums up how the Jets have the number one rush defense in the league. Even when facing extra blockers, they are schematically prepared and too talented to let up anything in the ground game.

MVP of the Defense – Week 3:

Sheldon Richardson:

According to PFF, Richardson had a sack, a separate QB hit, and three hurries on Monday evening. What makes these stats more impressive is how often he has been blatantly held due to his quick first step through the gap from playing at the three tech (between the guard and tackle, more often than not).

Richardson is becoming the pass rush threat that most expected, expanding his elite run stopping skill set from his rookie season. It will not be long before he is unanimously regarded as the best player on this team and one of the best interior linemen in the entire league.

Runner Up, Darrin Walls:

Walls was targeted 5 times by Jay Cutler and only allowed 2 completions for 15 yards, with only 2 yards allowed after the catch. He possibly could have came up with an interception after perfect coverage deep on Alshon Jeffery, but Jeffery swatted down his right arm. Making matters worse, the refs called defensive pass interference on Walls.

The bottom line is, the guy Rex Ryan refused to play over the past year until he was forced to has been the best corner back on this team the entire season. He receives little help as the Jets continue to overload blitz and move their second safety into a nickel zone with Dawan Landry. When Dee Milliner is healthy, it is hard to imagine a scenario where Walls comes off of the field. At the bare minimum, he is an excellent candidate to take over the full time nickel duties if the Jets prefer to leave Antonio Allen at corner back full time.