TOJ’s In The Trenches: New York Jets Defensive Line Review, Week Nine

In our weekly In The Trenches series, we’ll focus on the performances of the Jets’ offensive and defensive lines throughout the season. In this edition, Dan discusses the performance of the defensive line in the Jets’ week 9 loss to the Indianapolis Colts and preview their week 10 matchup with the Buffalo Bills.

Week 9 Summary

Perhaps they were caught off guard on a short week but the Jets defensive line got punched in the mouth by the Colts in week 9. It was one of their worst performances of the season but, as warned in last week’s piece, the Colts offensive line is a dangerous unit that was hiding behind mediocre statistics.

Run Defense

The Jets gave up a season worst 260 yards on 30 carries for an average of 8.7 yards per carry. Any time your opponent is almost averaging a first down per carry, you’re not in a good place. The Colts didn’t disguise much either: they didn’t run wide a ton. They mostly went right at the Jets strength, but they did use the defensive line’s aggression against them to keep them off balance. Connor Rogers does an excellent job covering what went wrong with the Jets run defense overall in his All-22 this week.

Pass Rush

The Colts handled the Jets well in pass rush, as Gang Green could only manage 1 sack, and 3 QB hits on 30 pass attempts. The Colts particularly handled the Jets interior well and Q. Nelson in particular looked outstanding as always. The Jets defensive line needs to be more consistent than streaky. The gap between their effectiveness week to week is not indicative of an elite group yet.

Week 10 Preview

In week 10, the Jets defensive line face another good offensive line with the Buffalo Bills. The Bills are 10th overall in team pass block win rate, and 12th in team run block win rate. They’re also ranked 12th in run blocking (adjusted line yards) and 7th in adjusted sack rate per Football Outsiders. So the Jets defensive line better be ready to fight early, particularly with this being a division rivalry.

On paper, the Jets should have advantages everywhere except at left tackle with Dion Dawkins. Quinnen Williams and Sheldon Rankins should be able to give Ike Boettger, Mitch Morse, and Daryl Williams some problems but the Bills have given up the 3rd fewest sacks in the NFL, so it won’t be so cut and dry. I expect Brian Daboll to use some creativity in the screen game, and using Josh Allen as a runner to keep the Jets front off-balance.

X-Factor: Sheldon Rankins

Rankins pass rush is a major factor when the Jets play well. The Jets need him to affect the game in a big way to keep the Bills offense from gaining momentum. The best way to pressure a mobile quarterback is from the interior so the Jets need Rankins to get home and get this unit back on track. Also, with Josh Allen’s tendency to be loose with his ball security at times, we could see a strip sack change the game.