Florham Park, NJ – The 2018 season will have a lot of ups and downs, along with growing pains, mistakes, and bonehead plays, as we all expected. On the horizon though is a Jets defense that looks poised to be a top 10 defense by the end of the season.
After allowing a total of 503 yards to the Jacksonville Jaguars in week four, many of the Jets players were disappointed in their performance, knowing that they hold themselves to a higher standard. A week later, they showed out.
Getting to the quarterback has been a struggle all season for Gang Green but they might just be turning a corner. Against the Broncos they recorded four sacks, two of them coming from Leonard Williams. The season high in sacks was a combination of brilliant play calling from Todd Bowles and a wake-up call from Williams. Williams has all the physical and technical tools to be a standout defensive lineman in the league, he just needs to prove it on a weekly basis.
As for the rest of the line Henry Anderson has emerged as a solid piece that nobody expected would make a significant impact. His 2.5 sacks on the season is tied for second with Jordan Jenkins.
On all three levels of defense the big names have elevated their games in significant ways. Starting with the linebackers, Avery Williamson and Darron Lee have proved to be a power punching one-two combo in the middle of the field. Williamson has adjusted to his team well through five games, leading with 39 tackles, recording two sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. The Jets essentially got the same player they had with Demario Davis, but at age 26.
Lee, now in his third season has really come into his own. He ranks third on the team with tackles, first with two interceptions and one returned for a touchdown. The work done in the gym in the offseason looks like its paying off. He looks faster, more agile and more responsive to dissecting plays before they happen. The potential for Lee and Williamson at their respective ages must make Jet fans excited for the future.
Behind those guys is number 33. Everyone knew Jamal Adams was going to show out, but maybe not this quick. Adams has proven himself to be an all pro, hard hitting safety in a league that is slowly phasing out the position. Week in and week out Adams has made an impact in each game, whether that’s in the pass game, run stop, or getting to the quarterback. He ranks second behind Williamson with 37 tackles, along with an interception and three pass deflections. At 22 years old, Adams will serve as a blue chip piece for a dominant defense for years to come.
His right hand man, Marcus Maye has made his presence known in just two games since returning from injury. The 104 yard interception return without a touchdown in week four left the Jets locker-room laughing, but with all good vibes. Maye’s ability in pass coverage as well as his hard-hitting mentality at the line makes a perfect combo with Adams.
“He sees the game well. He’s a very bright player,” Head Coach Todd Bowles said following Thursday’s practice.
The defense as a whole has been solid in a lot of categories across the board. They rank 8th in total ppg defense (21.0), while also giving up 1.48 points per drive, good for fifth in the league. Turnovers have helped their defense, as Gang Green has collected 2.2 takeaways per game, fourth in the NFL. Two of the most important phases of the ball include 3rd down defense and red zone defense. New York has excelled in both areas this season, ranking fifth in redzone defense (40% – 6/15) while also limiting opponents on third down at a 35.6% clip (13th in NFL)
Aside from all the ups and downs of the first five weeks there is a lot to look forward to in the future. The Jets are an incredibly young and raw team, so obviously the mistakes will be there. With a core of Lee, Williams, Adams and Maye the ceiling is sky high. It is only a matter of time before the consistent plays come week in and week out, making the defense into one of the scariest in the league.