TOJ’s In The Trenches: New York Jets Defensive Line Review, Week 13

Dan Essien recaps the defensive line’s performance versus the Eagles and previews the Saints-Jets matchup in the trenches.

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 13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles and preview their week 14 matchup with the New Orleans Saints.

Week 13 Summary

We wrote last week that the defensive line couldn’t afford another performance like the one they had against the Colts offensive line in week 13. I’m not sure I can say it quite reached that level but it was definitely close. The Eagles offensive line controlled the game, kept the chains moving, and kept the Jets offense off the field. The defensive line couldn’t stop the run so the Eagles didn’t pass much. Even when they did though, the Jets couldn’t get significant pressure. This unit failed another test against a good offensive line.

Run Defense

The Eagles had 185 yards rushing on 41 carries for average of 4.5 yards per carry. The Jets had to know coming in to the game, with the Eagles backup QB in the game, that Philadelphia would rely heavily on the run game. But the Eagles were able to have success anyway. 40+ carries is usually a team hiding a QB but also a team saying “you can’t stop us.”

When you can’t stop the run as a team, it’s really hard to win games. The Jets defense has allowed the 9th most total plays and has the worst percentage of drives ending with a score in the NFL (50%!). They’re also the 8th worst 3rd down defense in the NFL. They continue to fail to get off the field and do at least the minimum to limit opposing offenses.

Pass Rush

The Jets didn’t get much done in pass rush. The Eagles only had 25 pass attempts so there weren’t as many opportunities but the Jets finished with 2 sacks and a 3 QB hits. The Jets aren’t getting anything off the edge. They are badly missing players that can at least get upfield and shrink the pocket into their interior pressure. Until they have that again, most of their pass rush performances will look like this one.

Week 14 Preview

This week the Jets defensive line faces a tricky test with the New Orleans Saints offensive line. The Saints offensive line statistically is average but in terms of personnel it’s a matchup that could cause serious problems.  The Saints O-Line is 5th in team pass block win rate and 12th in adjusted sack rate but they won’t be doing much passing with Taysom Hill who is dealing with a finger injury on his throwing hand.

The Saints are 23rd in team run block win rate and 20th in run blocking (via Football Outsiders adjusted line yards). It may seem like something the Jets can take advantage of, however, with Taysom Hill’s threat as a runner and the return of Alvin Kamara, the Jets could be in serious trouble. The Jets run defense has been awful and the play recognition and tackling behind the Jets defensive line has also been terrible. I expect Sean Payton to utilize a ton of zone read with Taysom Hill and Alvin Kamara and with the occasional screen thrown in. The Jets have put too many vulnerabilities on tape for a coach like Payton to not have success, even with an injured backup quarterback.