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Rushing To Judgement

By Kevin Newell
Jets Head Writer
October 28th, 2003
Philly RB's averaged over 6 yards per carry against the Jets on Sunday.
Philly RB's averaged over 6 yards per carry against the Jets on Sunday.
The Dallas Cowboys had its Doomsday Defense. The Minnesota Vikings boasted the Purple People Eaters. And the Pittsburgh Steelers won four Super Bowls behind the revered Steel Curtain.

Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, and Jets fans of all ages: We present the Swiss Cheese Defense. Or better yet, The Sieve. Yes, the Jets lead the NFL with 26 sacks. Sure, the team is ranked 13th in NFL overall defense. Yes, the Jets have the NFL’s top-rated pass defense. Okay, so they have allowed just 118 points, the second lowest in the AFC and fourth lowest in the league.

Throw all of that out the window because every team is running the ball at will against the beleaguered Jets defense. Or should I say, running it down the Jets collective throats?

Following Gang Green’s 24-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, the Jets D has surrendered a horrendous 1,112 rushing yards. That’s an average of 158.6 rushing yards per game. That’s 15th in the 16-team AFC and 31st in the 32-team NFL. That’s better than only the Oakland Raiders, which have yielded 1,113 yards (a 159 yard average). So there’s hope yet of landing in the NFL’s rushing defense toilet.

Can you say, Welcome Mat? Opposing running backs sure can. They have gleefully wiped their cleats on the Jets putrid run defense, a unit that has been nothing more than tiny speed bumps in the path of onrushing men with no NFL credentials.

Don’t give me any of this, bend but don’t break defense malarkey. When you allow no-name running backs to have career days and set records against you, you’re bending over at the ankles and busted. No ifs, ands or buts.

Sunday the Jets made Correll Buckhalter (100 yards) look like Walter Payton and the woeful Eagles rushing attack (194 net yards rushing, 87 in the pivotal fourth quarter) appear invincible.

What’s even more sickening is that the Eagles offense entered the game in a serious funk. They had zero rhythm. But nothing cure’s an offenses ailments like a game against the Jets. Philly proceeded to post a 6.1-yard per rushing attempt, the most allowed by the Jets since Kansas City went for 7.7 in Week 5 of 2002.

Last week, the Jets allowed a nobody by the name of Domanick Davis to rush for a career-best 129 yards, which coincided with the Houston Texans posting the first 100-yard rushing game (169) in the franchise’s brief two-year history.

Want more proof of just how bad the Jets run defense is?

Go back to Week 1 vs the Washington Redskins and you’ll see that some dude named Ladell Betts rushed for 77 yards in Gang Green’s 16-13 defeat. Betts, who has just 244 yards for the season, hasn’t surpassed 39 yards since.

Ricky Williams bolted for 125 yards in Week 2. Dallas’ Troy Hambrick rambled for 127 yards in Week 4 and hasn’t eclipsed 74 yards in any other game.

The only games in which the Jets have held a running back under 100 yards occurred in Week 6, when they held a banged-up Travis Henry to 53 yards, and Week 3, when they limited New England’s Kevin Faulk to a mere 79.

Sans Williams, who are these guys? And why do they have so much success against the Jets? The answers are clear – no team speed and poor tackling.

When you don’t have speed you can’t get into position to make a tackle. What you do instead, as has been the case time and time again to anyone who has watched a Jets game, is defenders make arm tackles and grab at a piece of jersey or grasp at thin air. Either way, the running back isn’t going down.

The Jets missed a season-high 12 tackles Sunday. They missed eight vs Houston the week before. That’s a whopping 20-missed tackles in two weeks.

Just watch Mo Lewis and Sam Garnes, two of the biggest culprits when it comes to missed tackles. It’s like they’re trying to tackle the Invisible Man.

Memo to Lewis, Garnes, and the Rest of the We Can’t Tackle Gang: It’s tackle football, not touch or flag.

Phil Simms made an excellent observation during the Jets-Eagles game. He stated that the way to beat the Jets is to get their linebackers and defensive backs into space because they can’t recover in time to make tackles. They’re powerless. And clueless.

Conversely, when the Jets defenders stay in position – a rarity – they have more success because the running lanes are limited, thus negating their lack of team speed.

Cover 2? More like cover your eyes.

Perhaps the Jets can draft Bobby Boucher, Adam Sandler’s character from The Waterboy, because the defense can certainly use some “tackling fuel”!!!

Alas, Boucher, and his college, South Central Louisiana State University, are fictitious. Although based on general manager Terry Bradway’s draft history, he may just take a chance on the dimwitted Cajun who hits like a Mack truck – and tackles everything in sight (hint, hint).

Somewhere the New York Sack Exchange, that vaunted and feared Jets defense of yesteryear that did more than plunder quarterbacks, is perturbed at the way its modern day offspring are performing. A unit in need of tackling lessons. A unit in need of a moniker.

How about the Sad Sack Exchange?

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