On Sunday the New York Jets will travel to the “Black Hole” to take on the explosive offensive of the Oakland Raiders. Is their defense ready?
The first time the New York Jets saw Derek Carr he was making his first NFL start in Week 1 of the 2014 season. Carr and the Raiders struggled that first year. The Raiders finished with a 3-13 record while their offense finished 31st in points scored and last in total yards. Boy how times have changed.
Since then, Carr and the Raiders have certainly made their impression on the NFL. Before injuring himself in the second to last game of the 2016 season, Carr was on his way to a potential league MVP. He had established himself as a clutch performer, throwing 10 fourth quarter TD and leading the Raiders back in many of their wins. The Raiders finished with a 12-4 record while their offense ranked seventh in points scored and sixth in total yards.
Last season Carr finished with a very impressive 28-6 TD/INT ratio, one of the best in NFL history. Last week the Raiders got off to a good start with a victory over the Tennessee Titans on the road.
The Jets were outgained 408-214 against the Bills on Sunday. Are they ready for the Raiders aggressive attack?
First Round Draft Picks Everywhere, Yet Assignments Are Still Missed
Going into the 2017 season, most experts agreed that the New York Jets defense was the strength of this team. Looking at the pathetic offense they have, that isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement, but it should be noted that this defense has number one picks at four positions.
Leonard Williams, Jamal Adams, Muhammad Wilkerson and Darron Lee all represent their specific unit on defense and are players the Jets are counting on to lead this team for years to come. While Williams made his presence felt consistently against Buffalo, the others struggled.
For Adams and Maye, growing pains are simply going to happen no matter how talented they are. Although Maye was caught out of position on a few plays last Sunday including the Bills second TD of the game to Andre Holmes, he also made many good reads. Adams also was victimized a few times, but also showed why he is considered an elite prospect that will make this defense a top five unit. However, that is not the case yet.
What concerned me the most watching the defenses performance on Sunday was the same issues that plagued them last season showcased their ugly head against the Bills. Last season the Jets gave up a ridiculous amount of big pass plays (35 plays of 25 or more yards) because of miscommunication. On Sunday, the Jets allowed five plays of 20 or more yards through the air.
“They’re surprising because they’re guys who have been here,” Bowles said of the blown assignments, adding that correcting the problem is partly a coaching issue. “We got to coach it better, and they’ve got to play it better.”
Was Effort an Issue in Stopping the Run?
The Jets run defense, which held Buffalo to 154 yards in their two victories over the Bills last season, was dominated, giving up 190 rushing yards. They were blown off the point of attack, providing gargantuan running lanes for both LeSean McCoy and Mike Tolbert. Those were problems even the most pessimistic Jets follower would say weren’t near their list of concerns. However, when the final gun sounded the Jets defense was the primary reason why they were defeated.
Beyond the obvious statistical difference, the Jets effort seemed lacking. It’s one thing to get exposed by being out of position, it’s another thing to look disinterested. While I never want to question a player’s heart, I think watching the film on Muhammad Wilkerson and Steve McLendon getting routinely blown off the ball and not providing disruption at any point on Sunday, makes me question how much they wanted to be out there.
“We ain’t in no business of we’ll wait ’til next year,” McLendon said. “We’re in the business of winning now. And our team, we believe in each other, and that’s all that matters to me.” “We ain’t in no business of we’ll wait ’til next year,” McLendon said. “We’re in the business of winning now. And our team, we believe in each other, and that’s all that matters to me.”
Wilkerson gave credit to the Bills execution.
“We talked about it all week, about setting the edge and about (McCoy) cutting back. And we pretty much hurt ourselves,” Wilkerson said. “I don’t think we were too overhyped. Credit to them. They made plays and we just didn’t make enough.”
I sincerely apologize if my analysis is off, but both Wilkerson and McLendon have proven that they belong in this league and can be difference makers. That is why the Jets invested in both players. I expect a much different outcome for both players on Sunday.
The Oakland Raiders are a lot more talented offensively than the Bills, so the Jets and their fans will find out very quickly if this defense learned anything from that debacle, both in effort and execution against Buffalo.
In a season where wins and losses aren’t going to be the ultimate deciding factor in if this season is successful, it is time for both Kacy Rodgers and Todd Bowles to stop suggesting they need to coach better and actually do so. Their jobs depend on it.
Mark Kelly covers the New York Jets for ProFootballSpot.com. You can follow him on twitter @CkmagicSports. Looking for more Jets news and features? Like our Jets Facebook page and also follow @spot_jets on Twitter.