Despite an ugly first two games on offense, the New York Jets have shown encouraging signs on the defensive side of the football. Through two weeks, they have only allowed 19 points and one touchdown, while also recording 11 sacks and 3 turnovers. Considering this is a young unit with new starters all over the place outside of the defensive line, there is legitimate reason for optimism thus far. Let’s take a closer look at the tape…
Demario DavisA mediocre starter during his first stint with the New York Jets, Davis was acquired as a throw in when the team dumped Calvin Pryor on the Cleveland Browns. However, after David Harris was released, a path opened for Davis to the starting lineup and he has taken advantage of it with a strong camp and preseason. He has shown improved pursuit speed and play recognition. Davis will always struggle in coverage but if he can blitz and recognize the screen game like this, he may just remind Jets fans of Harris in recent years.
Josh MartinLorenzo Mauldin has been MIA this preseason, so has overly fan hyped rookie Dylan Donahue. The beneficiary has been Martin, a special teams ace who signed a new contract this past offseason. He has been all over the field, recording a pair of sacks and a forced fumble. Martin has also held up surprising well in the run game. Calvin Pace would be proud. He has earned the starting outside linebacker spot opposite of Jordan Jenkins so far.
Dexter McDougleOne of the few remaining holdovers from the John Idzik era, McDougle has looked terrific in coverage from the slot position in both games. He also made a tackle for a loss against the Lions on a blitz. Buster Skrine should be watching his back. McDougle has had issues staying healthy but he has had his hands all over the football this summer and looks substantially more decisive than in recent years.
Maye has been one of the Jets most impressive players in training camp and we saw a flash of what everybody has been raving about against Detroit. The Jets are going to move him all over the formation and expect him to make an immediate impact against both the pass and run. The below play demonstrated what a force he could be against the latter. Maye should get a bigger test this week in extended action against the Giants offense.
Lee has bulked up this offseason, which paid off against the Titans when he solidly met Derrick Henry in the hole. Against Detroit, we saw that he hasn’t lost his pursuit speed despite putting weight on, an encouraging sign at this point of the season. The Jets badly need Lee to take the next step and take advantage of the talented defensive line in front of him.
We know the Jets are going to have a good defensive line but if players like Lee, Maye, Martin and McDougle can grow up fast, the depth and talent at the second and third level will be better than expected. This unit is not going to be “elite” but is going to be a handful for more than a few offenses the Jets get on their schedule this year. It should also be a substantially faster and more aggressive group than we have seen recently.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com