6 adjustments the Jets defense needs to make

·3 min read

The Jets have the worst defense in the NFL.

That’s a statement many didn’t expect to hear after New York hired former 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh last offseason. But it’s true. New York ranks last in points and yards allowed heading into Week 11. The Jets gave up at least 45 points for the third time this season when they fell to the Bills in Week 10, and they’ve allowed at least 30 points in their past four games. The Jets have also given up at least 400 yards of offense in five of their nine games under Jeff Ulbrich.

Here, we’ll break down some adjustments the Jets defense needs to make in the final eight games of the 2021 season.

More pressure

(Stew Milne/AP)

Saleh’s calling card with the 49ers was his unblockable defensive line. That hasn’t translated to the Jets at a consistent rate. New York’s 20 sacks rank in the middle of the league, but they have the 32nd-ranked pass rush DVOA and the 31st-ranked run defense, per Football Outsiders. The Jets need to be more disruptive up front.

Eliminate explosive plays

(Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)

Explosive plays have killed the Jets this season. New York ranks first in plays of at least 20 yards allowed with 52 – which includes a league-high 44 through the air and eight on the ground. Just last week they gave up 57-yard and 49-yard receptions to the Bills. Those types of moments demoralize a defense and they’ve been a big reason for the Jets’ recent performances.

Better run defense

(Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

The hallmark of a great defense is its ability to stop the run. Therefore, it’s not surprising the Jets rank near the bottom of the NFL against the run. Despite DT Foley Fatukasi’s league-leading 48 percent run stop rate, per ESPN, the Jets allow the fourth-most rushing yards per game and the third-most yards per rushing attempt.

Better tackling

(Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports)

This issue plays into the Jets’ inability to stop explosive plays. New York ranks 31st with 1,328 yards allowed after the catch and 30th in second-level and open field yards allowed, per Football Outsiders. Basically, receivers aren’t tackled at the point of the catch and the defensive line rarely stops running backs around the line of scrimmage. That needs to stop.

Get off the field

(Justin Casterline-Getty Images)

The Jets’ defense has looked gassed this season. They’ve defended 104 drives, tied for seventh in the league, and the opponents’ average drive start is the 34.5-yard line, which is the best in the league. Those numbers are thanks to the poor offense and special teams, but the defense isn’t doing itself any favors on the back-end. It allows the fourth-most yards per drive at 35.8. The team needs to force more three-and-outs and give itself more rest when it can.

Force turnovers

(Sarah Stier/Getty Images)

It’s hard to stop offenses when the defense doesn’t force turnovers. The Jets are tied for 31st in the league with just seven takeaways and have only intercepted two passes this season, the fewest in the NFL. Turnovers can tip the balance of any game, and the Jets’ inability to do so is a big reason they’re getting blown out and giving up so many yards and points.

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