Buffalo DE Mario Williams had more sacks in Week 2 alone (4.5) than our entire defense had in the first two weeks combined (4).
On Sunday, Williams and Co. sacked QB Geno Smith zero times, while seven — yes, seven — different Jets sacked Bills QB EJ Manuel during our 27-20 victory at MetLife Stadium.
“As long as somebody’s getting doubled, that means someone has a 1-on-1,” DE Muhammad Wilkerson told newyorkjets.com senior reporter Eric Allen Monday on Jets Replay, “and our motto is you’ve got to win your 1-on-1.”
The 6’4”, 315-pounder certainly won his matchups against the Bills.
“Muhammad Wilkerson, OK, a so-so game,” head coach Rex Ryan joked during Monday afternoon’s news conference. “Two sacks, five hits on the quarterback, I don’t know how many tackles [six, according to pressbox stats]. So I’m happy with him.”
The Temple product also forced a fumble by RB C.J. Spiller during the first two-sack performance of his three-year NFL career in what would be a great day for most but in what has become just a typical day for No. 96.
Though statistics can often be deceiving, some stats are simply too eye-popping to ignore. During Big Mo’s last eight games, dating to Week 13 of the 2012 season, he has six sacks and 15 QB hits. Projected over the course of a 16-game season, that would be 12 sacks and 30 hits on the quarterback.
To put these numbers in perspective, throughout Ryan’s four full seasons as head coach of the Jets, LB Calvin Pace has had the most sacks in a season with eight in ‘09, while the most hits on the QB have come from LB Quinton Coples with 14 last season. In fact, only J.J. Watt, Cameron Wake and Ndamukong Suh unofficially had more than 30 QB hits across the entire NFL last year.
Wilkerson’s simply one cog in the D-line machine, though.
Damon “Snacks” Harrison has taken his game to a whole new level this season, becoming one of the team’s most improved players.
“Last year, he’d get in and his eyes would be real big,” Muhammad told EA, “but now he’s playing like he’s used to it.”
The addition of first-round rookie Sheldon Richardson has also helped significantly revamp this defensive front, and Wilkerson recognizes the importance of his trenchmates’ contributions toward his own success, pointing out to reporters that Richardson was double-teamed often during Sunday’s game.
“At the end of the day," Wilkerson said, "we have so many different guys who are talented on the defensive line that I feel like offensive coordinators are going to have to pick their poison if they want to double-team somebody.”
Individual stats matter only to the point of helping the team.
After three weeks, the Jets’ defense ranks second in the NFL in sack rate and in the top seven in rush yards, pass yards, total yards, third-down efficiency, and points allowed per game.
And team stats matter only to the point of earning a win. Through three games, the Jets have won two.
Opposing offensive coordinators may want to pick a different poison.
Looking at the film, obviously there are a lot of good things. I mean, we move the ball like that. The thing I did know that this is the first time in Jets history that we had a 300-yard passer, 100-yard rusher and two 100-yard receivers in a game. Obviously, that was a tremendous performance by our offense. They did not give up a sack, to a team that can really rush the passer. So I'm very encouraged by that. I like the way we ran the ball. We stayed committed to running the ball, that was good. Bilal Powell, I mean, man, oh, man, he was outstanding in that game. We made some big plays down the field obviously. I was happy to see our receivers play much better than the previous week. [Santonio] Holmes obviously had a huge day for us. What would this be, like the fourth week in training camp or something? So he’s only going to do [improve]. Like I said, I don’t know where he starts from now, but he’s at a pretty good spot for us.
And then defensively, the thing that jumps out at you, or jumped out at me, you obviously recognize the play of the defensive line. Anytime you get eight sacks you’re going to recognize that. But I recognized the coverage as well. I liked the way Dee [Milliner] responded. I thought he played well. Kyle [Wilson] was having a really good game and then I think he let a personal thing affect him. And the thing about that, it affects the team. Kyle’s a smart player, but that’s a mistake, so we have to learn from it and we’ll move on, but learn from it all the same. I like the way the secondary played. Cro [Antonio Cromartie] had a tremendous game for us. He gave up one completion for like 5 yards or something, so a great game there.
Up front, Quinton Coples played 60 plays, right at 60 plays. Look, did we think he's going to play 60 plays? No way we thought he’d play 60 plays, but we had a pretty good rotation with him. The thing is he was playing great. Like he did a tremendous job, and I know stat-wise, I don’t know how many tackles he made or whatever. I think he had a couple of hits on the quarterback and he had a couple TFLs [tackle for loss] or whatever. He was outstanding as a rusher backer, as a defensive end, as a defensive tackle, we moved him all over. I thought he did a tremendous job for us and first game back, off that kind of injury, just tip your hat to him. The guy wants it. I’ve been telling you he’s hungry and having him out there was a great thing for us.
Muhammad Wilkerson, OK, a so-so game: two sacks, five hits on the quarterback, I don’t know how many tackles. So I'm happy with him. I’m happy with the way Snacks [Damon Harrison] is playing, so really that whole group is playing well. One guy to say a guy’s overshadowed and it’s David Harris. David was tremendous. This is about as good a game as I’ve seen David play in a long, long time. He did not have an interception or anything, but he’s moving fast, he’s blitzing really well and doing a great job tackling. With that, I was happy with that.
Our special teams, [Ryan] Quigley doesn’t have the monster punts but had a net of almost 42 yards, so that was good. And then obviously Nick Folk is really kicking the ball well. His kickoffs, I see his leg is stronger. He’s got more hangtime on his kickoffs. We had a tackle inside the 20, so we did a lot of good things in that game.
Now focusing on the negatives, we’ve already talked to our guys. We have a good plan going forward with the penalties because we’re not a team that does that. I don’t want our team to be associated with penalties, there’s no question. That’s not who we are. I want to have a physical football team, but I also want to be the least penalized team in the league, not the most penalized teams, so it’s not acceptable. And we’ve already talked about things we’re going to do, that I shared with the team and we have a good plan going forward. To have 20 penalties, the amazing thing is that we won the game, but we certainly have to get better at that and we can fix it, as we talked about the other day.
On what he is doing to help limit penalties…
Well again, the only one I’ll lay out there will be the pushups to challenge the entire organization to get behind it. We’ll see. I think once we realize how important it really is, and this organization in between these walls is a close group. I’m not saying that our fans need to do the pushups and all that. I’m not saying it. But you know what? We’ll let you know. If our fans want to get in there and help us, because I think how much pressure is that? Well, you’ve got your fans doing pushups, too. If you’re on the practice field and you’re doing whatever, 10 pushups, go for it.
On if he made his team do pushups in 2010…
We had them all do them and it worked. We’re never at the top of the penalties. You guys will have those exact numbers. But I think that we really improved once we really emphasized it. And I thought we were anyway. We’re one of the only teams in the league, I know our team has officials at every practice, and we work on them. There’s no doubt. It seemed like every play we were having something go wrong in the game. Again, that’s not the type of team that we are. We certainly don’t want that. We want to be an aggressive team and I’m happy with the way we’re playing physically. We’re playing a physical brand of football. But again, that doesn’t have anything to do with [playing] outside the rules. We want to play within the confinements of the rules and play as hard as we can and that’s always been our take. So we’ll see about getting better.
On if he will make Woody Johnson do pushups if there are penalties in practice Wednesday…
Woody knocks those things out pretty good [joking]. I’m the one that struggles, but I’ve got the strings for arms [joking]. I want the player to stand up. He doesn’t do them. And I want him to notice who he’s affecting. He’s affecting all of us. I think that’s where it’s like, oh, OK. It’s not just when they see that, it’s not, "Oh, I’ve got to do these pushups." No, no. After you’ve done a few of those you’re like, "Really, you got a penalty again?" And they’ll get on each other. There’s a little bit of accountability, especially if you look and the owner’s knocking them out: "Oh, really?" We don’t want to look like Jack LaLanne or somebody [joking].
In all seriousness, we’ve got to get better and that’s going to be a focus of ours. We’ve done some good things as a team but obviously we’re not near where we need to be even in our execution of things. But the penalties, man, we know we can fix it and it needs to start this week.
On if emotion came into play on his second challenge…
No, I think what happened on the first challenge, I thought we did have the first down. Obviously I’m not going to challenge it if I didn’t think it. I really felt we had a chance to get that first down, to look at it. And then the other deal was the clock was down under 10 seconds and I was going to use a timeout anyway. I was going to have to use a timeout anyway, so it’s like, "OK, I have two challenges left," and I thought we made it. In my line I thought we made the first down. And then when I saw that the clock was down, I think it was eight seconds, I was like, "I’m going to just challenge it." And that’s what I did with the first one.
Now the second one, the way our defense was playing, you’re never going to challenge a call you think you’re going to lose, obviously. File that in the no kidding category. We gave up a big play, a huge play, that changed field position, that totally flipped the field. So that’s why I challenged that one, because I obviously thought he never made the catch in bounds, which clearly he did, upon further review. I did a poor job. It never worked out this time. The thing is, we’ve led the league in these, in percentages, before. I think two years ago, as well. But this time it never panned out.
On Chris Ivory’s status…
Right now, we’ll let you know on Wednesday when the injury report comes out. It is a hamstring though, I’ll let you know that. It is a hamstring.
On Bilal Powell being a physical runner…
No, he’s always been that way, even if you go back to the Green and White scrimmage. He is a physical runner. He might not be the fastest, he might not be the biggest or whatever but he is just a good back. He runs hard. He really had a great day, he was breaking tackles. [It would look] like he was down and goes for 60, oh that was their back [laughter]. But Powell is doing a great job.
On bringing in other running backs during the off season to compete with Powell…
The way the game is played now, you have to have almost a stable of backs. Even my first year here, when we had a phenomenal backfield with Thomas Jones, Shonn Greene and with Leon Washington. It’s about as good as it gets right there. You’re trying to have fresh backs. There’s very few teams with a 30-carry back. There’s some with bell cows, there’s very few with guys carrying the ball 30 times a game.
On if certain penalties bother him more than others…
There’s going to be some that you’ll get for contesting throws and things like that, for instance. There are some that just happen. Sometimes you’ll get a hand to the face or something like that. A guy slips up and gets a hand to the guy’s face, sometime that happens.
The ones that really get you are the focus ones where we’ve got to focus, we had several off sides penalties. We know that we can fix that. That is a focus issue, we got to be focused on the football. If you are jumping off sides for some other reason, than you’re not focused on the right thing. You need to focus on the ball, that’s the first thing that’s going to move. That’s what we need to be focused on.
There’s things, too, like snap counts and different things like that. Even holding, you can get beat, everybody is going to get beat but sometimes it’s, “I got to anticipate things, I’ve got to keep my weight down, I got to keep my hands inside.” Those are things we’re looking to improve on.
On if everyone will have to do pushups if someone commits a penalty during practice…
Yeah. 10 pushups. Everybody hits it, whoever is on the field. I think that’s a good thing. And then that person, who is the culprit of the foul, will see who he’s affecting.
On the importance of holding teams to field goals on short fields…
First off, I think your mentality when you hit the field has to be that they’re not in there until they’re in there, and I think that’s something we’ve always stressed. You can’t affect how you get on the field, you can affect how you get off it. So you hit the field with that [mentality]. There’s an old thing we used to say, which is, “Hey, that’s more TV time for us,” [joking] when I was a defensive coordinator.
But that has to be the mentality, "Hey, whatever it is, they don’t score." They’re not in there. And you fight it. If it’s first-and-goal from the 1, you still hit the field with the same mentality. We’ve been doing a good job. I think in the red zone in particular, we’re much improved. Obviously, a lot of games are won or lost there. It’s been an emphasis for us to improve in the red zone on defense and I think we’ve done that so far.
On if they are emphasizing throwing the ball down the field…
If a defense presents you certain looks, then absolutely. To get those opportunities to block it up starts with protection, and then winning the 1-on-1 matchups outside. We had plenty of them. But I think it’s a lot of things. Obviously, when you’re running the football as effectively as we were, that’s going to give you those opportunities as well. I know Mike Pettine’s not going to just take it sitting down. He’s not going play seven-man spacing and get the ball just run down the field. So he jumped down there with a lot of eight-man fronts which is what you’re going to do against us. That created a lot of opportunities.
I’ll tell you, a guy that didn’t show up on the stats but they certainly knew where he was was Kellen Winslow. I don’t know if he even had a catch, but they knew where he was. I think on the touchdown to Stephen Hill, I believe, you’ll see him, the outside linebacker hits him, the inside linebacker hits him and the safety sits on him, and that allows Stephen to go 1-on-1. So I think those are some things that are unselfish. Run the route as hard as you can. He drew the attention of guys. That was the plan of the route, and then we were able to make the big play down the field.
On if Ivory injured the same hamstring he hurt in camp…
I don’t know which leg. It’s the same one as in camp, but it’s in a different spot, I believe.
On Smith saying he was frustrated with the interceptions…
Look, every quarterback throws interceptions, but it’s trying to learn from eliminating the ones, in particular, the forced ones. He had a bad throw on the one Jim Leonhard had a nice play on. He kind of underthrew that, and then later, same exact play, steps in fires it down the field, and then they get a pass interference called on the same route. Sometimes those happen, but you are obviously trying to eliminate them.
When you look at the quarterback rating, if you just take a look at that, it’s been a big factor, people say now, of who wins the quarterback battle, what team, generally wins games as well now. I think Geno’s was just under 90 this week, but eliminate the interceptions [and] where is it? I don’t know, but you guys will figure it out, somebody will. But it’s probably right around 115.0, 120.0, something like that. So to me, I’m encourage by it because one thing I saw him do yesterday was when it wasn’t there, he didn’t try to create as much, he got rid of it. He threw four or five balls that he just launched out of bounds, just because he was going to avoid the disaster play. I was encouraged by that.
The New York Jets' defense was feeling pretty good about itself after its eight-sack demolition of Bills rookie quarterback EJ Manuel, but the postgame celebration was shattered by a challenge from coach Rex Ryan.
"Rex got on the defense about creating turnovers," defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson said Wednesday.
The Jets are ranked third in total defense, doing a lot of nice things, but they've struggled with takeaways -- only two in three games, none in the past two. To be recognized as an elite defense, they need to do a better job of forcing turnovers. Sacks are great. Three-and-outs are nice. But you need game-changing plays.
"That's been a big emphasis this week," rush linebacker Quinton Coples said.
It should be.
The Jets face the Tennessee Titans, who have yet to commit a turnover. Obviously, Jake Locker has done a terrific job of protecting the football -- one of three starting quarterbacks with no interceptions -- but he'll face a defense that's starting to mature.
A defense that prides itself on making life miserable for quarterbacks. The Jets have caused problems for the Bucs' Josh Freeman (benched Wednesday), the Patriots' Tom Brady and, of course, Manuel, who combined completed only 47 percent of their passes against the Jets and were sacked 12 times.
"We go into every game with the same intention -- stop the quarterback," linebacker DeMario Davis said.
If a quarterback can't solve the Jets' scheme, nose tackle Damon Harrison said, he's "like a deer in the headlights."
Quite simply, the Jets have to do a better job of getting their hands on the football. In fact, they've had only six pass break-ups. That's surprisingly low, considering the improved pass rush. In theory, the quarterbacks -- under increased pressure -- should be making bad decisions with the ball. But that hasn't happened yet.
EJ Manuel probably is still picking pieces of the MetLife Stadium turf out of his teeth.
The Jets defense launched an all-out attack and pounded the Bills rookie quarterback on Sunday, sacking him eight times — the highest sack total by a Jets team in 25 years. What made it even more impressive was seven different Jets players logged sacks.
For Manuel, it must have looked like the Jets had 15 players on defense, and he could not figure out what direction the pressure was coming from. Unlike many teams who have just one superb pass rusher, the Jets have a bunch of players with the ability to get to the quarterback so teams can’t identify just one player they need to stop.
“We’re not just a four-man rush,” coach Rex Ryan said Wednesday. “We’re very multiple. We can rush four. You just might not know which four are coming.”
The Jets now rank third in the NFL with 12 sacks and are on pace for 64, which would be the highest total the Jets have had under Ryan, the architect of the defensive attack. Of the eight sacks, only one came from a five-man rush. The Jets rushed four on the others. But, as Ryan said, Manuel had a tough time identifying which four were coming. Linebackers who lined up on the line of scrimmage dropped into coverage. Defensive linemen twisted and stunted. Linebackers blitzed and defensive backs hunted Manuel down if he left the pocket.
Muhammad Wilkerson was the only Jet to have two sacks. Calvin Pace, David Harris, Demario Davis, Dawan Landry, Sheldon Richardson and Antonio Allen each had one.
“We feed off each other,” Wilkerson said.
It was the first time the Jets had seven different players register a sack in the same game since sacks became an official statistic in 1982. Nine different players have sacks this season, the first time that has happened through a team’s first three games since the 2008 Eagles.
“Anytime you can have multiple guys on a defense that present problems for the offensive coordinator, it’s always a good thing because you have guys slip through the cracks that make plays that they didn’t plan on making plays,” nose tackle Damon Harrison said. “You can’t focus on one or two guys on this defense because everybody has playmaking ability.”
Harrison did not register a sack on Sunday, but his pressure led to a Richardson sack. Ryan pointed out guys such as Harrison and linebackers Quinton Coples and Antwan Barnes did not get a sack, but their pressure created them.
“It shows that we also have some depth,” Ryan said. “Guys contribute in a bunch of different ways. A couple of guys that never had any sacks — one was Coples and one was Barnes — and they might have caused more than any of them but they never hit the board.”
Ryan has always used creative schemes to get to the quarterback. Since he took the Jets over in 2009, 31 different players have notched a sack. He’s done it with outside linebackers (54), defensive linemen (41), inside linebackers (27 ½), safeties (18 ½) and cornerbacks (8).
“It presents a lot of opportunities for different guys. I think that’s a good thing,” Ryan said. “It’s not just one guy getting them. … That’s sharing the wealth, but giving guys the opportunity to get a 1-on-1 matchup or a free run, that’s what you try to do.”
The best year for Ryan’s defense in sacks was 2006, when he was still with the Ravens. That group had 60 and nearly had four players register double-digit sacks. Trevor Pryce had 13, Adalius Thomas had 11 and both Bart Scott and Terrell Suggs finished with 9 ½.With the Jets, Ryan’s best sack year was 2010, when the team had 40, eighth in the league. They only had 30 last season, but a revamped front seven has the Jets on track for a huge year pressuring the quarterback.
“[Ryan] puts you in the position to make plays,” Richardson said. “It’s up to you make them. We made them Sunday.”
Jets safety Josh Bush has played three snaps this season. That's all. Three. They were all in the Jets' first game, against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He made one tackle. If you missed that game, you missed the sum total of Bush's on-field contributions this season, his second in the league. Even if you watched the game, you probably missed them.
There's a good reason that Bush has seen so little playing time, even after suiting up in all 16 games last season: He now backs up Dawan Landry, an eight-year NFL veteran in his first year with the Jets, and Landry hasn't left the field yet this year.The Jets' defense has been on the field for 220 snaps, and because he acts as its nerve center, making all the necessary calls and adjustments, Landry hasn't missed even one of them. He and cornerback Antonio Cromartie are the only two Jets who have been involved in every defensive play, and Landry's status leaves Bush in an important if unenviable position: He has to master the first-team defense's nuances and intricacies just as Landry has, all without practicing with the first-team defense.
Jets safeties Dawan Landry and Josh Bush team up to tackle Tampa Bay's Vincent Jackson on Sept. 8.
"I think I might have one of the hardest jobs in the NFL," Bush said.
After turning over seven starters from last year's unit to this year's, the Jets rank third in the NFL in total defense and seventh in points allowed. They've never finished a season ranked worse than eighth in total defense since Rex Ryan became head coach in 2009, and part of the reason they've maintained so high a level this season is that Landry, who signed with them in April, didn't need to be assimilated into Ryan's system.
Landry spent his first five years in the league with the Baltimore Ravens, and Ryan was Baltimore's defensive coordinator for three of those years. In fact, Ryan put Landry in charge of calling the Ravens' signals in 2006—Landry's rookie season."That was one of the reasons we felt great about bringing him in," Ryan said. "He'd run the entire thing, call every defense, made him talk. Obviously, it's something he does now. It's no big deal to him. Everybody knows he's the smartest guy out there. Let him communicate it."Landry's intelligence and durability—he hasn't missed a game in five years—are obvious assets for the Jets, but not necessarily for Bush, who is still trying to make a mark in the NFL after the Jets selected him in the sixth round of the 2012 draft out of Wake Forest.
On the one hand, Bush has a seasoned, respected player he can learn from. On the other, he never gets to put those lessons into practice. Instead, he studies the Jets' playbook with the compulsion of a doctoral candidate, and he studies Landry."It's like the gift and the curse," said Bush. "He's not a big rah-rah guy, so you really have to pay attention to him to understand that he's doing the right thing. If something were to happen to him, I have to control the defense without getting reps at practice. And they're not going to back off the calls. Rex and [defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman] expect me to know everything that he knows and do it the same way he does it."
During the off-season, the Jets knew they had to add savvy and experience to their defensive backfield. On one side was Bush, still wet behind the ears. On the other, two young players—Antonio Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett—were vying for the other starting spot. So the team made Landry one of its free-agent signees. Now Bush has to wait for his shot to show what he can do, an opportunity that is unlikely to come this year.
-- New York Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman offered a piece of advice to cornerback Kyle Wilson, who was slapped with four consecutive penalties last Sunday because he let a wide receiver get into his head:
Don't get mad, get even.
Wilson"The football gods will allow you to get even with a guy, especially if he's wronged," Thurman said Thursday. "It may not happen in that game, it may not happen the next time you play him. But as some point along the line, you'll get a chance -- with a fair, clean hit -- you'll get an opportunity to get him back. You have to wait and be patient.
"Trust me, when guys have been wronged on the football field by someone ... ask anyone if they got a chance to get revenge. They'll tell you yes. It happens that way. That's the way it's supposed to happen."
This stems from a wild sequence in the fourth quarter of the Jets' win against the Buffalo Bills, when Wilson was flagged on four straight plays. He got into it with Stevie Johnson and came unraveled with an embarrassing display of behavior. Wilson apparently felt he was wronged by Johnson, complaining to an official about Johnson's tactics. That didn't help.
Wilson was penalized for holding (Johnson), illegal contact (Johnson), unsportsmanlike conduct (he shoved Bills center Eric Wood) and a personal foul for unnecessary roughness (Johnson). Johnson was called for taunting after the first penalty. Wilson was pulled from the game, but returned on the next series.
"It happens, it's not that big a deal," Thurman said. "It's a teaching moment."
But Thurman didn't disagree with the premise that Wilson, in his fourth season, should know better. His loss of poise allowed the Bills to score a game-tying touchdown. Wilson was penalized more times in 28 seconds than most players get flagged in a season.
Wilson has avoided this media this week during interview periods. His meltdown could have an impact on his playing time. Wilson started last week for demoted rookie Dee Milliner, but he probably won't start Sunday against the Tennessee Titans. That assignment probably will go to Darrin Walls, with Wilson playing the nickel, according to Rex Ryan.
Ryan probably will be forced to shuffle his lineup because Milliner injured a hamstring Wednesday in practice and isn't expected to play.
We'll find out Nov. 17 if the football gods are sympathetic to Wilson. That's when they play the Bills again.
One of our undeniable strengths in this early going has been the defense. And one of the strengths within that strength has been the defense's performance inside its own 20.
"I think in the red zone in particular, we’re much improved," head coach Rex Ryan said this week. "Obviously, a lot of games are won or lost there. It’s been an emphasis for us to improve in the red zone on defense and I think we’ve done that so far."
And how. The Jets have allowed just two touchdowns in nine red zone defensive opportunities in the first three games, a .222 TD rate that is the best in the NFL.
"The defense's job is to prevent points," LB David Harris said matter-of-factly after today's practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. "When we're on the field in the red zone, our main job is to keep them out and hold them to three points. And so far we've been doing a pretty good job of that."
"It's all about the mindset, just tuning into your game plan, knowing your opponents and your assignments in that specific area," DE Muhammad Wilkerson said. "We always say they're not in till they're in. So we definitely don't want to give them a touchdown, hopefully we'll hold them to three, and then what would be better is if we could knock them out of field goal position."
We've been holding them to three for a while now. Tampa Bay scored both its touchdowns in the opener on first-half RZ opportunities. Since then, we've gone seven possessions without giving up a TD (six FGs and the late kneeldown drive at New England).
That doesn't sound like a long streak, but in the red zone world it's not far from an eternity. The last time our defense went 7-for-7 was in Games 5-7 in 1999. The last time we had a longer streak was 11-for-11 back in Games 6-8 in the '93 season.
And the last time we had a better first three games of red zone touchdown defense, the concept of the red zone had yet to be created. The 1972 Jets allowed only two TDs in 10 opponent drives inside their 20, back when the goalposts were on the goal line, not the end line.
Two caveats for Jets Nation: One, red zone domination comes and goes, and over a season the best defenses will allow about four touchdowns on every 10 drives.
And two, it's nice to stop the bad guys inside the 20, but you need to stop them from outside the 20, too.
"We gave up a touchdown on a blown coverage in the New England game, and when Buffalo scored their touchdown, it was on a blown coverage also," Ryan said. "I don’t know how many touchdowns we’ve given up, I think three this season.
"It seems like we’ve had one major breakdown per game. If we can eliminate it, we’ll be pretty good."
JETS' BEST STARTS IN RED ZONE DEFENSE SINCE 1970
First 3 Games First 4 Games
Year Drives TDs TD% Year Drives TDs TD%
1972 10 2 .200 1982 9 3 .333
2013 9 2 .222 1988 9 3 .333
1988 8 2 .250 2000 12 4 .333
2001 11 3 .273 2009 9 3 .333
Not practicing in team drills today were WR Santonio Holmes (foot), LB Quinton Coples (ankle), T Oday Aboushi (knee), RB Chris Ivory (hamstring) and CB Dee Milliner (hamstring). Holmes and Coples were planned DNPs by the training staff. Milliner's was not. Ryan was asked if he's disappointed with his first-round corner's latest injury.
"No, just the opposite. The kid was coming and so we’ll see. Hopefully this isn’t that big of an issue because he’s going like this," Ryan said, moving his hand in an upward direction like a Jet lifting off. "One thing we know about Dee: very competitive young man. Hopefully it won't be long with this injury."
DT Sheldon Richardson (shoulder), a DNP Wednesday, was limited today. ... For the Titans, WR Kenny Britt (neck/ribs) and T Dave Stewart (calf) were limited while LB Moise Fokou (neck) didn't practice.
Will Campbell loved football, and he loved Warren Sapp, and he stood 6 feet 5 inches and weighed over 300 pounds. So he played on the defensive line. He was a top talent in Michigan, among the best tackles in the nation, a cornerstone of the Wolverines’ formidable 2009 recruiting class.
As projected four years ago, Campbell reached the N.F.L. this season. He plays for the Jets — as an offensive guard. His transition began in earnest April 27, when they chose him in the sixth round and informed him that he would be switching positions.
Evaluating Campbell before the draft, they considered his assets: toughness, hand strength, natural power and athleticism. They also considered his weaknesses: a lack of every-down potential, limited pass-rush skills and anchor ability that was not on par with that of prototypical nose guards.
“And then it clicked for me,” Jeff Bauer, the Jets’ director of college scouting, said in a telephone interview. “It’s just something you see and you feel.”
He added, “Obviously there’s a lot of chance when you project guys, but I thought he would be a great offensive lineman someday, or at least a very good one.”
On the surface, it was an unusual request by the Jets: few players shift positions at the N.F.L. level, and fewer still succeed. But the Jets are familiar with such matters. Bauer’s first year scouting for the Jets was 2002, when they converted another Big Ten defensive lineman to guard, Brandon Moore, who went on to start 137 consecutive games for them before retiring in August.
As part of his education, Campbell, who has been deactivated for all three games, has watched Moore’s game film. He also speaks regularly with the former N.F.L. guard Dave Szott, the Jets’ director of player development, who went through a position change at Penn State. Mostly, though, Campbell learns on the field.
Each day after practice, the Jets’ offensive line coach, Mike Devlin, works with Campbell to refine a particular skill. The tutorials range from hand placement to staying lower to the intricacies of neutralizing tackle-end stunts.
Campbell peppers center Nick Mangold with questions about the playbook. Many times Devlin has reminded Campbell about the importance of staying patient in pass protection, of harnessing his instinct to be aggressive.
“There’s a controlled aggression to offense that Will’s getting used to,” Devlin said. “If you just came out going a thousand miles per hour and not thinking, then the defense will just kill you.”
When offensive linemen fizzle coming out of college, Bauer said, scouting reports are often laced with comments like “too soft” and “not aggressive enough.” Defensive linemen tend to have a nasty on-field disposition, Bauer said, and if a team can put someone with that attitude on the offensive side of the ball, “you’re very excited.”
“You see that with Will,” Bauer said.
It was Devlin who corroborated Bauer’s initial impressions, putting Campbell through a rigorous workout before the draft. At the end of it, Campbell asked if he could snap a few. Sure, Devlin told him. Then Campbell asked if he could snap a few more. His enthusiasm delighted Devlin.
“When you’ve been successful at one side and then you move over and start all over again, it can be frustrating,” said the Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Mattison, who can empathize with his former pupil. Mattison’s son, Bryan, switched to guard from defensive end with the Baltimore Ravens in 2009.
“Unless you believe and have confidence in yourself, you won’t do it,” Greg Mattison said.
Campbell embraced the change from the outset, primarily because he realized it afforded him the best opportunity to play in the N.F.L. He regrets allowing laziness and weight problems to stunt his development at Michigan, keeping him on the sideline to the point that he asked to move to the offensive line in the second half of his sophomore season.
“I thought he was a natural at it,” said Greg Frey, who was then the Wolverines’ offensive line coach.
When Brady Hoke replaced Rich Rodriguez as coach, Campbell returned to defense, and it was then that he regrouped and took control of his career. He shed about 50 pounds. He improved his work ethic. He was named an all-Big Ten honorable mention as a senior.
The defensive techniques he polished at Michigan have aided his transition. He has trained himself to think like an offensive guard who has not forgotten his past. From how and where a defensive lineman sets up, Campbell has a sense of how to defuse him. He looks for “cheats,” for “tells” and for tricks he used.
“I used to try to hide all that stuff,” Campbell said, “but now I try to exploit it.”
He has, with varying degrees of success. His struggles in training camp — he yielded four quarterback hurries in 63 snaps in the Jets’ preseason finale, according to ProFootballFocus — seemed to foretell a developmental season on the practice squad. Instead, like the team’s other six draft picks, Campbell made the 53-man roster.
“You’re trying to develop some young guys and realizing that not everybody is going to be a polished product at the end of the day,” General Manager John Idzik said recently.
Idzik could have said the same thing 11 years ago about Moore. Campbell might evolve into an N.F.L. starter. Or he might not. Either way, the Jets are willing to wait and see.
“He’s a project,” guard Willie Colon said. “But he’s a project worth dealing with.”
-- Kyle Wilson certainly has a lot of study material.
The Jets cornerback said Friday he needed to learn from last week's stretch of four penalties in four plays against Buffalo. Wilson, who started against the Bills, may not be the starter against the Titans -- head coach Rex Ryan did not say who will be the starting corner opposite Antonio Cromartie.
"Obviously it's something I have to learn from," Wilson said. "I'm a physical guy and have to learn from it -- that's pretty much it."
Wilson got penalized on four straight plays in the fourth quarter, squaring up against Bills receiver Stevie Johnson. He was then benched for a series. Jets defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman stressed that Wilson needed to show patience, saying "the football gods will allow you to get even with a guy."
"What [Thurman] was getting at was being smart, and I don't want to hurt the team in any way," Wilson said. "Something happens, just understand there will be a time and place for it."
While Wilson started in place of Dee Milliner against Buffalo, he may find himself demoted from that role against the Titans. The only personnel grouping Ryan confirmed the Jets would use was the nickel package where Wilson will be in the slot and Darrin Walls will be on the outside. Milliner will miss the first game of his career on Sunday with a hamstring injury.
"Last week was last week. My focus is all on Tennessee," Wilson said. "Still got some time to get better this week and focus on going out and just playing a great game and putting out my best performance and getting better each day in practice."
Sunday will be a huge opportunity for Walls, a third-year player. He didn't play any defensive snaps in the opener against Tampa Bay and then played just 10 against New England before playing a season-high 28 against the Bills.
Walls primarily played on the practice squad last season, suiting up for just six games. He believes he had a strong offseason and played well in minicamp, and that's helped him build confidence and gain the trust of the Jets' staff. He sees his rise in snaps as proof.
Whether he starts or not, odds are Walls will see the field a good amount since the Titans like to use three wide receiver sets. Walls acknowledged it would be quite rewarding if he's able to make his first career start.
"I think it's a great opportunity," Walls said. "It's a big-time thing for me being as I haven't started a game yet in my career. So I think having my first start would be a great accomplishment. It would be a great opportunity to show what kind of skills I do have."
After being flagged for four penalties on consecutive plays in the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills last Sunday, Jets cornerback Kyle Wilson insisted that Rex Ryan simply wanted to cool him down when Wilson was called to the sidelines.
Wilson, who was whistled for two personal fouls, maintained the sequence was an educational experience.
“Obviously it’s something I have to learn from,” Wilson said Friday. “I’m a physical guy and have to learn from it that’s pretty much it.”
Wilson noted that he would work on keeping his composure so that his actions did not affect the team.
Wilson was penalized for holding, illegal contact, unsportsmanlike conduct and unnecessary roughness during a four-play stretch in the fourth quarter with the Jets leading 20-12. The penalties certainly helped the Bills, who drove for the tying score on the series.
Wilson, who was benched for one series, will be active once again when the Jets square off with the Titans in Nashville on Sunday.
“Last week was last week. My focus is all on Tennessee,” Wilson said. “Still got some time to get better this week and focus on going out and just playing a great game and putting out my best performance and getting better each day in practice.”
Little has been simple for the Jets’ secondary this season.
Against Buffalo, Wilson started in place of rookie cornerback Dee Milliner, who had been benched in the previous game due to several mistakes he made. On Friday, Milliner, who suffered a hamstring injury in Wednesday’s practice, rode a stationary bicycle on the sideline during practice and was ruled out of the Titans’ game.
“(Dee) thinks he can play on it,” Ryan said. “He never practiced so he’s not playing. But he’s feeling a lot better.”
Ryan confirmed that Wilson would be used in the slot for nickel packages, and that cornerback Darrin Walls would be on the outside. Walls, now in his third season, dressed for six games last season.
Wilson has experienced ups and downs in his four seasons with the Jets. Drafted as a first-round pick, he learned at the side of cornerback Darrelle Revis in his first three years.
Trusted to play several positions in the secondary, Wilson welcomed advice from others. Defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman, who coached the defensive backs the last three seasons, attempted to make Wilson’s meltdown a teaching moment.
“What (Thurman) was getting at was being smart, and I don’t want to hurt the team in any way,” Wilson said. “Something happens, just understand there will be a time and place for it.”
The Jets are third in the league with 12 sacks, including defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson’s takedown of Bills quarterback E. J. Manuel last Sunday.
— A complex formula may explain the success of the Jets’ defensive line, explain how four large men can get past five larger men with such apparent ease. Such an explanation might require a chalkboard or an applied sciences degree.Sheldon Richardson sacked Josh Freeman of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 1.Sheldon Richardson, however, studied agriculture at the University of Missouri. His analysis is simple.“We’re young,” Richardson, a rookie defensive tackle, said Thursday after practice. “And we’re hungry.”Against the Buffalo Bills last Sunday, the Jets recorded eight sacks, something they had not done since 1988. Afterward, Buffalo quarterback E. J. Manuel described the pass rush as a headache-inducing “blur,” thanks to eight-man blitzes that distorted him mentally.
In truth, the Jets rarely needed to rush more than four players to succeed, a downsizing for the ever-imaginative coach Rex Ryan that just seemed like so much more.
This team is realizing more and more that its defensive identity rests up front: those young and hungry linemen who are barnstorming the backfield.
“I think the good thing is the pressure is omnipresent with us,” Ryan said Friday. “Even if we just rush four, you’re probably thinking we have more than that coming.”
According to data compiled by the analytics Web site ProFootballFocus.com, the Jets have blitzed just 29.1 percent of the time this season, compared with 39.6 percent a year ago. They have reached the quarterback, without blitzing, on 10 percent of dropbacks, compared with 4.9 percent in 2012.“They get penetration, they take up double teams, they put pressure on the quarterback and make it uncomfortable for him,” linebacker David Harris said. “Those guys up front, they’re playing lights-out for us. They make the linebackers’ job easy.”
The Jets hoped for this, using first-round picks in three consecutive years to draft Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples and Richardson to solidify a pass rush that was never among the league’s staunchest. But the result has come with a twist.For years, the Jets’ defense had revolved around Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and a creative pressure scheme from various angles (linebacker Calvin Pace has the most sacks of any Jet under Ryan, with 22 ½; Harris is second).
The departure of mainstays like Revis, Jim Leonhard, Bart Scott and Eric Smith has given way to a sense that a new core is emerging.
Ryan did not necessarily agree; he described the defense as “ever-changing” based on the team’s personnel.
But the Jets have just one interception, tied for 24th in the league, while they are third with 12 sacks.
“We have some very talented guys we’ve put some high picks into,” Ryan said. “We have our three first-round picks in a row, and every one of them are hits. That bodes well for us moving forward.”
On Sunday, seven players registered sacks, something the franchise had not done since the statistic was first officially measured in 1982. The defensive coordinator Dennis Thurman said the young players on the line had fed off one another.
“You have guys that are similar in age,” Thurman said, “they’re all defensive linemen, they’re good athletes, and now they’re all talking about who’s going to get the most sacks, who gets to the quarterback first, who makes the most tackles. It becomes a competitive thing within the group.”
Thurman said the team did not plan to stop being creative with blitzes. The Jets made their lone interception on a blitz and have pressured the quarterback 43.2 percent of the time with the blitz, according to ProFootballFocus.
With the back end of the defense younger and unproven, though, the reliance on the players up front might only increase.
“We feel like we have athletes up there,” Thurman said.
Coples, who led the team with five and a half sacks as a rookie last season and missed the first two games this season with a fractured ankle, made three tackles against the Bills. His presence should allow the Jets to dial things up.
And Richardson, at 6-foot-3 and 292 pounds, has shown impressive nimbleness, athleticism and maturity. He has slipped in beside the rising star Wilkerson and nose tackle Damon Harrison.
Already, Richardson is fourth on the team with 16 tackles and one and a half sacks.
“We have a chance to be the best defense in the N.F.L.; we really do,” Richardson said, adding, “We’re all buying into the system right now.”
When All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis took his talents to Tampa Bay, some believed his departure spelled doom for coach Rex Ryan's defense. But if a three-game sample is to be believed, the Jets have a chance to be at least as good as they were with Revis and maybe better because the pass rush is better than it's ever been under Ryan.
"I think so," veteran cornerback Antonio Cromartie said yesterday when asked if this defense might be better. "There's a possibility of that.
"Our front seven is doing a heck of a job against the quarterback. We're not having to use all of our sub personnel to try to blitz with cornerbacks. We're doing it with our front seven. For the defensive backs, it makes things a little easier."
The Jets (2-1) had eight sacks of rookie quarterback EJ Manuel in their win over Buffalo last Sunday. They face a different challenge Sunday at Tennessee (2-1). The focus will be on stopping running back Chris Johnson first and then containing quarterback Jake Locker.
But consider the Jets' defensive numbers: first in red-zone defense (22.2 percent), third in third-down conversions (26.9), third in average rush per carry (3.2), third in total defense (270.0) and seventh in scoring defense (16.7).
Ryan announced Friday that rookie cornerback Dee Milliner (hamstring) is out along with running back Chris Ivory (hamstring). Cornerbacks Kyle Wilson, who replaced Milliner in the starting lineup at Buffalo, and Darrin Walls will combine to take most of the snaps, with Wilson spending most of his time as the nickel back covering the slot receiver and Walls playing outside on the wide receiver opposite Cromartie.
Wilson, a four-year veteran, said there's no question that a pass rush featuring end Muhammad Wilkerson, tackles Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison, and outside linebacker Quinton Coples has been the key to success.
"It's great to have a pass rush now because everybody is complementing off each other," Wilson said. "We're not covering for five seconds or overloading on the blitz. The ball is coming out on time; guys are in their face. We're doing everything we practice, our core fundamentals on defense. I like it."
In previous years, the pass rush was relatively ineffective up front, so Ryan had to create pressure by overloading blitzers in different areas. That required the cornerbacks, in particular, to hold their coverage longer. It was predicated to a degree on the ability of Revis to take away the opponent's top receiver. Now the Jets are getting pressure with just a four-man rush, though Ryan explained that those four might include a blitzer.
"Revis did an unbelievable job, but he only covered one man," Ryan said. "It wasn't like he could cover the whole field . . . You can lean on your front four or a different four guys coming. We have DBs that can rush the passer and some linebackers that are good blitzers.
"The big thing is the pressure is omnipresent with us. Even if we just rush four, you're probably thinking you've got more than that coming."
The trade that sent Darrelle Revis to Tampa Bay was supposed to decimate the Jets defense. Without the legendary cornerback, predominant wisdom had it, opposing offenses didn't have anyone to fear.
Five months later, the Jets are 2-1, in part, because of the trade—not in spite of it. They have the league's third-ranked defense, a budding defensive line and they've held opponents to a 26.9% conversion rate on third down (second in the NFL).
"We got chemistry to grow," said defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson, who was taken with the first-round pick obtained in the Revis trade. "Even if it's third-and-1, we pretty much hold our own."
With Darrelle Revis in Tampa, Rex Ryan has made the Jets defense less dependent on one player.
Nobody is arguing that Revis hurt the defense. Jets coach Rex Ryan said Friday that the All-Pro "did an unbelievable" job with the team. But Ryan isn't working to help players win individual superlatives. He's trying to create the league's best defensive unit and that's dependent on more than one player.
"He only covered one man," Ryan said. "It wasn't like he could cover the whole field."
Now the Jets' defensive strength is up front instead of in the secondary. Lineman such as Richardson, Kenrick Ellis and Muhammad Wilkerson and linebacker/defensive end Quinton Coples (all of whom are 25 or younger) have helped to keep opposing rushers to 3.2 yards per carry (third in the NFL).
"We have three first-round picks in a row in that defensive line and every one of them are hits," Ryan said of Richardson, Wilkerson and Coples. "That bodes well for us moving forward."
The downside to the Revis deal has been the inconsistent play in the secondary this season. The unit has only one interception and fourth-year cornerback Kyle Wilson's four penalties nearly cost the Jets a Week 3 win over the Bills.
As for Dee Milliner, the first-round pick expected to replace Revis, injuries have been a factor. An issue with his left hamstring will sideline him this week, but even when he was healthy enough to play, Milliner got benched during the Week 2 loss to the Patriots.
The good news for the defensive backs is that the front seven has made things easier in two ways.
First, the team's 12 sacks (tied for third) have taken some work off the defensive backs' plate.
"Our defensive line has done a great job of getting pressure on the quarterback," said cornerback Darrin Walls, who should see more playing time this Sunday.
Second, by stopping the run, the Jets defense has limited opponents' time to throw the football. And seeing as they've allowed 12 yards per reception (tied for 23rd), that's been a pretty important detail.
The Jets rank third in time of possession and their clock dominance has been a welcome surprise. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg may have dismissed it as "a secondary thing, but Ryan insists time of possession will be a factor this Sunday—particularly with running back Chris Johnson in the Titans's backfield.
"When you look at this Tennessee Titans team, they've improved almost five minutes from the previous year," Ryan said. "So obviously, it's something that's been a big focus on them, trying to get off the field on third down on defense and possess the football and control the ball with all their running. This team runs more than any team in the league."
Thanks to running back Bilal Powell (4.3 yards per carry) the Jets haven't been shy about running either. Even with Chris Ivory hurting (his hamstring injury will keep him out of Sunday's game), the Jets are tied with the Titans at 401 rushing yards for the year.
That means Sunday's game will feature two ground-and-pound teams who have been dominating the clock.
In other words, it's a good time to have 295-pound run stuffer like Richardson as opposed to an elite cornerback, regardless of his reputation.
The NY Jets defense this year has been surprisingly good. This isn't unknown to Jets fans. But what may surprise some is just how good some statistics say it's been.
The overall numbers are familiar to most of us. Number 7 in passing yards per game. Number 6 in rushing yards per game. Number 3 in total yards per game. That all sounds really good, right? Better than most of us expected, albeit with only a small 3 game sample size. But wait, there's more. Hidden in the numbers are some very interesting details suggesting a much greater level of dominance.If I asked you which NFL defense leads the league in rushing first downs allowed, who would you guess? I'd probably guess Denver, given that they lead the league in rushing defense by a wide margin. And you know what? I'd be wrong. The NFL defense leading the league in rushing first downs allowed is the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets. The Jets have allowed the miniscule total of 7 rushing first downs in 3 games.If I asked you which NFL defense leads the league in passing first downs allowed, who would you guess? I'd probably guess Seattle, given their ferocious secondary and their league leading pass defense. And you know what? I'd be wrong. The NFL defense leading the league in passing first downs allowed is the J-E-T-S Jets Jets Jets. The Jets have allowed only 23 passing first downs in 3 games.
You read that right. The Jets lead the NFL in rushing first downs allowed AND in passing first downs allowed! This is a picture of utter dominance.
Let's add a little more detail to the picture. In three games the Jets have allowed all of 30 first downs from scrimmage (i.e., not by penalty). That's a ridiculously low average of 10 per game. The next best number in the NFL? The Houston Texans, with 37. Next comes the Seattle Seahawks, with 41. No other team in the NFL has allowed less than 44. So the Jets don't give up much yardage, and when they do, it does far less damage in terms of moving the chains than any other NFL team.
That's pretty freakin' awesome, right? Wait. There's more. The Jets right now are tied for third in the NFL with 12 sacks. It's obviously early, but can anyone even remember the last time the Jets ranked as high as third in the NFL in sacks? I can't.
Let's look a little more closely at the passing numbers. The Jets allow opponents to complete 47% of their passes. That's the best number in the NFL, and it isn't close. The Patriots are next best at 51%. San Francisco and Seattle sit at 53%. And no other team is better than 55%. League average is somewhere around 62%.
In yards allowed per pass attempt the Jets defense averages 5.10 yards. Kansas City leads the league with 4.91 yards per attempt. Seattle is next at 4.94. Third is the Jets at 5.10. Next is New England at 5.38. No other NFL team averages less than 5.69.
In yards per rushing attempt the Jets defense averages 3.2 yards per carry, good for third in the NFL, behind Denver's absurdly low 2.3 and the surprising Browns at 2.8.
Putting it all together, the Jets allow on average a microscopic 4.35 yards per play. That number is - you guessed it - the best in the NFL. The vaunted Seahawks' defense is next at 4.53, followed by the Patriots at 4.85. No other NFL team is under 5.10.
So the Jets have allowed the fewest passing first downs in the NFL. They have allowed the fewest rushing first downs in the NFL. They have allowed the fewest yards per play in the NFL. And they have allowed the lowest completion percentage in the NFL. What does that look like to you? To me it looks like the best defense in the NFL through 3 games, and it isn't all that close.
Now of course, there are the usual provisos, disclaimers, etc. The sample size is way too small. Opponents matter - facing the Bills and the Bucs is not in any way equivalent to facing the Saints and the Broncos. But still, the numbers are what they are. And they are phenomenal. Through three games, the Jets' defense has been absolutely dominant. It has arguably been the best defense in the NFL. And the only reason it doesn't currently rank that way is because of some very sloppy play on both sides of the ball. Giant gobs of penalties have kept opponents' drives going when they should have been stopped. Buckets of turnovers have given opponents extra possessions. It remains to be seen if those issues can be overcome. But if they are, watch out. This defense is fierce, and can hold its own against any unit in football. Don't be surprised if Rex's prized defensive unit returns by the end of the year to what he believes is its rightful place in the NFL: number 1, and feared.
Can we please postpone the coronation of the New York Jets' defense ?
Full of confidence after last week's eight-sack beat down of the Buffalo Bills, the Jets were sliced and diced by Jake Locker and Ryan Fitzpatrick, who combined for four touchdown passes in the Tennessee Titans' 38-13 victory at LP Field.
The final indignity occurred with 7:06 remaining in the fourth quarter, when cornerback Antonio Cromartie, Nate Washington and back judge Billy Smith collided on a 77-yard touchdown pass -- another Jets blooper.
Cromartie said he asked the official, "What the hell are you doing back here?" He said Smith apologized.Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie, back judge Billy Smith and Titans receiver Nate Washington collide. The result was a 77-yard score for Washington.That pretty much captured the disastrous day for the Jets.
Truth is, Cromartie was beaten cleanly by Washington, who had to slow down because Fitzpatrick's throw hung in the air like a punt. Once Washington made the catch, the collision occurred with Cromartie and Smith.
"No, he didn't interfere with the play," Cromartie said. "That's on me fully. Me being the number one corner on this team, I need to make sure that I go up and intercept that ball or bat it down."
It was a tough day for the Jets' corners. Earlier, Cromartie slipped on the wet grass and allowed a 4-yard scoring pass to Washington. Darrin Walls, who started in the Dee Milliner-Kyle Wilson slot, allowed a 16-yard touchdown pass to rookie receiver Justin Hunter. It was a terrific catch by Hunter, but Walls could've played it better. The Titans use Hunter almost exclusively in the red zone, so it shouldn't have been a surprise that he got the ball -- especially in the final seconds of the first half.
"That's a killer," Rex Ryan said. "There's only one play they can run and that's the shot in the end zone. You know it's coming and everybody in the ballpark knows it's coming. The only time they put that kid in the game is to throw the jump ball, and there's a reason he came down with it."
The cornerback spot opposite Cromartie has turned into musical chairs. Walls started for Kyle Wilson, who last week started for Milliner, the struggling rookie who pulled a hamstring in practice. Ryan is running out of competent corners and, frankly, Cromartie was off his game as well.
Give credit to the Titans; they had a masterful game plan. Recognizing the Jets were focusing on running back Chris Johnson, the Titans put the ball in Locker's hands, letting him throw from the pocket. That's what the Jets wanted, but they got more than they expected from Locker, who completed 18 of 24 passes for 149 yards and three touchdowns. The Jets underestimated Locker, not known for his passing exploits.
The Jets were held to two sacks and produced no takeaways for the third straight game. That's simply not acceptable. By the way, the Titans have yet to commit a turnover. In fairness to the defense, it had to play on a short field throughout the game because of Geno Smith's turnovers. The Titans' first three touchdown drives were 18, 26 and 46 yards.
No matter. Linebacker David Harris was visibly irked by the performance.
"Just say we lost," he said. "We got our butts kicked by a better team today. Simple as that."
Asked if the Titans might simply be a better team, Harris snapped, "We lost. Did you see the score?"
Muhammad Wilkerson defends 'clean hit' on Jake Locker, says 'I’m not a dirty player'
Jets defensive linemen Muhammad Wilkerson (96) and Antwan Barnes (95) bring down Tennessee Titans quarterback Jake Locker during the second quarter. (Sept. 29, 2013)
Muhammad Wilkerson prayed along with the Titans, hoping Jake Locker would be OK. And when the Tennessee quarterback was loaded onto the cart and driven off LP Field Sunday, Wilkerson clapped with crowd as well.
Despite the harsh words of Titans head coach Mike Munchak, the Jets defensive end insisted Tuesday that he is “not a dirty player.”
“I would never try to hurt a player on purpose,” Wilkerson said during his weekly radio spot on WFAN, adding that he delivered “a clean hit” on the QB.
Locker was attempting a third-quarter pass to Nate Washington when he was hit, first in the chest, by Muhammad Wilkerson and then in the side by Quinton Coples. The quarterback remained on the ground for several minutes as his teammates gathered around him and the crowd chanted “Jake! Jake! Jake!” He was replaced by backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, an ex-Bill, in an eventual 38-13 win.
“I took one step and then I hit him,” Wilkerson explained.
Rex Ryan agreed on Monday, saying Wilkerson “did what you're supposed to do, lower your target.” But while the Jets saw no malicious intent in the hit, Munchak vehemently disagreed.
“[Wilkerson] dropped his helmet into him and unloaded on him,” he told local reporters. “You're supposed to pull back on him when you're late. He didn't.”
As for the Coples’ hit, Munchak called that “totally unnecessary."
Both Wilkerson and Coples are hoping to avoid fines by the league.
"Like I said, I'd never try to hurt a player on purpose," Wilkerson said on WFAN. "I was just doing my job, play hard, physical football. I took one step and hit him and that was that. And once I saw that he was laying there, I said my prayers and then clapped once he was carted off the field to show my sportsmanship.”
You know that saying, “Every cloud has a silver lining”? Well, the New York Jets have one, and it is a beautiful shining silver one. It’s name? Karl Dunbar, defensive line coach. The work he has done with this group in just a little over one year is astounding.
Even if we forget the pass rush, which has been the best Jets’ pass rush in probably two decades and just look at the play against the run, we see it. So far in 2013, the Jets have faced a top-flight running back each week, in Doug Martin, Stevan Ridley, C.J. Spiller, and Chris Johnson. This tweet from Evan Silva shows the production so far :
That is a pretty awesome set of statistics if you ask me. You can’t do a much better job than that.
So what has that translated to on a team level? Well, the Jets defense is fifth overall in rushing, giving up 317 yards on the ground, and a mere 79.2 yards per game on the ground. If you look at the category of yards per carry, the Jets are tied for second, allowing just three yards per carry.
Let’s look at the grades against the run of our three main guys, Damon Harrison, Mo Wilkerson, and Sheldon Richardson, courtesy of Pro Football Focus:
Mo Wilkerson: 0.5
Sheldon Richardson: 10.5
Damon Harrison: 11.8
Did anyone ever think that this line would have Mo Wilkerson with the LOWEST grade? I know I did not. To think they are this good, that Mo would be bringing up the rear?
It’s absolute dominance, and we have Karl Dunbar to be grateful to.
DE Muhammad Wilkerson and LB Quinton Coples confirmed their fines from the NFL for their almost simultaneous hits on the play that ended Titans QB Jake Locker's game and part of his season on Sunday. And both are appealing their fines.
"I was going to appeal, regardless," Wilkerson told reporters after today's practice at the Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. "It didn't matter the amount. If it was $5,000, I still would've appealed. I don't think it was a dirty hit. I don't think I should've gotten fined."Wilkerson was hit for $15,785 and Coples for $7,875. The interesting part of the fines is that two very interested QB parties thought the play was hard but not cheap.
“I didn’t feel like that on the field and after watching it, it wasn’t anything malicious,” Locker said in Nashville. “I kind of got bounced into the second guy. I didn’t feel like they were out to get me, no.”
And Falcons QB Matt Ryan, who'll be up next to face Wilk, Q and the rest of the Jets' defense, said the same.
"I didn’t think they were cheap shots," Ryan said. "I thought it was just a bang-bang play and those were hard hits, but that's the unfortunate part of the game. You don’t like to see anybody go down, and certainly I wish the best for Jake going forward and hope he has a speedy recovery. But I don’t think they were at all dirty."
"I just play hard, physical football like I'm supposed to and how I was brought up and taught," Wilkerson said. "I'm going to continue to do that and play ball the way I know how to play ball."
Tennessee S Michael Griffin said Wednesday that he was fined $21,000 by the league for his hit on WR Stephen Hill, who suffered a concussion. Griffin also is appealing his fine.
Our first injury report of the week has six players not participating in team drills today — WRs Stephen Hill (concussion) and Santonio Holmes (foot/hamstring), RB Chris Ivory (hamstring), CB Dee Milliner (hamstring), TE Kellen Winslow (knee) and T Oday Aboushi (knee). Two more — WR Clyde Gates (knee) and CB Darrin Walls (shoulder) — were limited.
The Falcons list two starters who are definitely out for Monday night's game — LT Sam Baker (knee) and MLB Akeem Dent (ankle). Three more didn't practice today in Atlanta — RB Steven Jackson (hamstring), CB Asante Samuel (thigh) and LB Paul Worrilow (knee) — and three more more starters were limited — WRs Julio Jones (knee) and Roddy White (ankle) and DT Jonathan Babineaux (foot).
Although the defense has performed well against the pass as a whole, there have been one or two plays a game that have involved mistakes in the Jets’ secondary that have been costly. There was one in the New England game that resulted in the only touchdown, and there have been others.
At yesterday’s press conference, coach Ryan talked about what he needs to see from the secondary:
Number one, the mental mistakes, we have to eliminate the mental mistakes. Like we’ve said during the year so far up to this point, it seems like we’ve made one critical error in every game and it was mental. We didn’t cover a receiver in a tight position against New England and they scored one touchdown, that was it. Tampa Bay we blew a coverage that set up a field goal that could’ve won the game, on third-and-10. We gave up another touchdown to Buffalo, gave up one touchdown in that game, and it was on a blown coverage. If we can tighten those things up, I think we can be good. There’s no doubt. The physical thing was this past week more than the mental, and that’s just when the balls in the air, we have to go get it. Certainly, we’re going to get opportunities this week because they’re seeing the tapes and they’re just going to take shot, after shot, after shot because that’s what they do.
Coach is right, the secondary will have some chances on Monday night. Without a running game, Matt Ryan will put the ball up a lot. If the guys can make some plays, they might just be able to pull the upset.