The New York Jets are a tale of two teams. The offense is one of the worst in the NFL, turnover prone and struggling to move the ball. The defense on the other hand, is one of the elite units in the league. They have been excellent to begin the season, and they followed up their impressive Week 1 performance with an even better showing against the New England Patriots.
It is not at all a stretch to say the Jets might have the best run defense in football. A week after shutting down Doug Martin, they held Stevan Ridley to just 40 yards on 16 carries. The Jets are allowing a measly 2.4 YPC this season. Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, Kenrick Ellis and Damon Harrison form one of the best defensive lines in the league, and they consistently control the line of scrimmage and get into the backfield.
All of these players are young, big and athletic, and they are only going to get better. Harrison has made the incredible journey from undrafted free agent to starting for a top notch defense. Wilkerson, Richardson and Ellis are all recent high draft picks, and they have all been developing nicely, especially Wilkerson and Richardson.
With the performance of these linemen, the Patriots were hardly able to get any runs to the second level. When they did, inside linebackers David Harris and DeMario Davis stopped them. Harris has long been a standout player, while Davis has been progressing rapidly, and he has the speed and athleticism to be a game changer at the linebacker position.
The pass defense took some heat following Week 1, but they improved tremendously this week. Tom Brady completed just 49% of his passes for 185 yards, averaging a miniscule 4.7 YPA, well below his career 7.5 average. For most of the game the only effective play the Patriots was had was Julian Edelman on a crossing route, but he still only averaged six yards a catch.
To be fair, Brady was without several of his top weapons, and the Jets were certainly helped by the repeated drops of the young replacement receivers. However, holding the vaunted Patriots offense to just 232 total yards and 13 points while forcing 11 punts, in Foxboro no less, is an impressive feat.
The Jets’ defense has the ability to be one of the best units in the NFL. They are going to be a dominating force in most games, and they will put the Jets in position to win games. This is easily a playoff caliber defense, and the offense needs to take advantage of the opportunities they are given to win.
If they can’t do that, this will be a long season of wasting outstanding defensive performances.