It has been “bye-bye” to good, sound, fundamental defense for the New York Jets since the bye week, their two worst defensive performances of the season coinciding with two losses. And with the dismissal of their defense they’ve also waived away any hope of winning games.
Now on Sunday, they will hope to get back on track against a Jacksonville Jaguars team whose offense is underrated.
David Harris was right when earlier this week he called the Jets performance “disgusting” in a 34-20 loss this past Sunday at the Oakland Raiders. The Jets got manhandled by an offensive unit that wasn’t supposed to be elite and instead let quarterback Derek Carr walk out with one of the best performances of his young career.
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It is more than an isolated incident and with another flat performance, could be a trend.
In a Week 7 loss at the New England Patriots and then this past weekend, the Jets have allowed 688 passing yards and six touchdowns with no interceptions, a pair of performances that defensively have been the worst of their season. With an offense that is far from marquee itself, it opens up major issues when the defense can’t function at even a mediocre level.
Missed tackles, 19 of them, along with some terrible coverage made for a long afternoon where no Jets player was sunning himself in the California sun, eating a hot dog on the sideline. Despite the two terrible performances, Sunday’s opponent still speaks positively on a Jets defense that was expected to be among the best in the league.
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“Well, they’re a very talented group. Coach [Todd] Bowles, I’m familiar with him from the days where I was in Seattle and he was at Arizona and the style of defense that they played. Very aggressive, very much so committed to stopping the run and I think their stats show that. They love to challenge people and apply a lot of pressure,” Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley said in a Wednesday conference call. “The last couple weeks, I think the Oakland game you saw signs of it. I know just listening to him and their team, I don’t think they sound like they’re very pleased with their overall performance. They have a high standard and I know Coach Bowles, like I said, I know the personnel on that team, they have a high standard. I guess looking at it on tape and hearing their comments, they don’t feel like they met those expectations.”
Perhaps he is being diplomatic, the type of coach-speak that comes out on these types of calls with the media, but the Jets defense isn’t just failing to meet “expectations.” Simply, they have been bad now for two straight games.
The secondary was supposed to be elite, especially with the return of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie but it has been scorched in consecutive weeks. And this vaunted pass rush was supposed to be feared, except that they didn’t sack Carr once last week.
Now these might have been anomaly performances, flash-in-the-pan showings over the course of the season’s grind. The Jets defense was good enough to start the season 4-1 but now has fallen on tough times. Conventional wisdom would hold that the group plays aggressively and angry on Sunday against the Jaguars.
“I think that coming back at home and to play in front of their crowd, I don’t know that they have to prove a point. I think they’ve proven a point when you watch them on tape, the style in which they play,” Bradley said. “Like I said, you saw flashes of that even last week in Oakland, but we anticipate seeing a team that’s very spirited, a team that has a high standard like I mentioned before and are going to play to that standard - a very prideful group, a veteran savvy group that understand the level that each of them need to play at.”