For Jets, Dose of Schottenheimer Cures Some Problems
The Jets’ defense saw Brian Schottenheimer’s unit struggle now and again during his six years as the team’s offensive coordinator. Schottenheimer’s offense foundered again Sunday, but the Jets’ defenders did not mind. This time, they were responsible.
A dose of Schottenheimer, who left the Jets last season to take the same position with the St. Louis Rams, and his familiar schemes turned out to be the perfect tonic for the Jets’ struggling defense in a 27-13 victory that broke their three-game losing streak.“When you go against a coordinator, they always have things they like, special things they like to do,” safety Yeremiah Bell said. “We knew that coming in. We also have a coaching staff that coached against it for a long time. We were well prepared for what they wanted to do.” The Jets allowed the Rams to march 86 yards for a touchdown on St. Louis’s opening possession but then forced three turnovers and allowed only a late, consolation touchdown the rest of the way. Two second-quarter turnovers helped turn the tide after the Rams took an early lead. Eric Smith jumped an out route and intercepted a Sam Bradford pass to give the Jets the ball deep in St. Louis territory.
That drive did not result in points after Nick Folk’s field goal was blocked, but two possessions later, Muhammad Wilkerson burst through the line to sack and strip Bradford. Linebacker Bart Scott scooped up the loose ball and returned it 38 yards it to the Rams 28-yard line. Mark Sanchez then connected with Chaz Schilens for a 25-yard touchdown pass to give the Jets a lead they did not surrender.“About the first, second drive, you know what kind of plays you’re going to get and what the theme of the week is,” Scott said of Schottenheimer’s offense. “His offense is what you call a grab bag. There’s really no rhyme or reason, but it’s a lot of plays. We knew we had plays that had hurt us and that he’d use them.”The ball-hawking and opportunistic Jets looked much more like a Rex Ryan-coached defense than the one that showed up against Miami and Seattle the previous two games. Those teams scored 30 and 28 points.Sunday’s game, defensive players said, marked the return to form of a unit that was ranked in the top five in the N.F.L. in total defense each of the previous three seasons under Ryan. This season, the Jets traveled to St. Louis ranked 17th in total defense (348.8 yards per game) and 24th in points allowed (25.3). “We want to be dominant,” Bell said. “We feel like have the personnel to be dominant.”
Bell and his teammates looked the part against the Rams, holding Bradford to 89 yards passing in the first three quarters and a 67.4 passer rating over all.Scott also credited the Jets’ offense, especially a ground game that racked up 124 yards, letting the defense compose itself on the sideline.“The running game being able to work allowed us to sit on the bench and gather our thoughts and communicate about what’s going on,” he said. As for facing the Jets’ former offensive coordinator, Smith said that he enjoyed it and that it added something to the game.“We always go against him in practice,” Smith said. “For me it might have been four, five years, then to get to play against him, it was fun.”
Wilkerson was less philosophical.“As defensive linemen, we just knock them back,” he said. “Get off the ball and knock the offensive linemen back.