The New York Jets went into their Week 4 clash with the Tennessee Titans with all kinds of talk surrounding their defense and how good it could be. Many observers (myself included) have gone so far as to classify the Jets as one of the top defenses in the NFL. On Sunday, they proved their worth against the run, holding Chris Johnson to just 21 yards on 15 carries. As a team, the Titans only averaged 2.5 yards per carry.
The Jets’ pass defense, however, was an entirely different story. Jake Locker and Ryan Fitzpatrick combined to complete 21/32 passes for 244 yards and 4 TDs, including a 77-yard bomb to Nate Washington in the fourth quarter that served to emphasize Tennessee’s dominance.
When the Jets traded Darrelle Revis, they were under the belief that Antonio Cromartie could capably fill his role. The team also drafted Dee Milliner withe expectation that he could be an instant contributor. With Kyle Wilson and Darrin Walls, the Jets felt they had four very good cover corners.
However, those expectations have not been reality this season. Cromartie is one of the top corners in the NFL, but the fact remains that he not an elite player like Revis. He was the man who was beat on Washington’s late touchdown, and Cromartie has struggled at various points this season, despite the fact the Jets have only played one high level passing offense, which was the New England Patriots without all their best receivers.
Milliner has had all kinds of struggles adjusting to the NFL, and he missed Sunday’s game with a hamstring issue. Walls was his replacement, and the Titans targeted him heavily, usually meeting with success. Wilson was actually solid in the slot, but that is far from enough production for the Jets.
The Jets’ secondary needs to things figured out fast, because they are playing the Atlanta Falcons Monday night, and Matt Ryan, Julio Jones, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez will tear the Jets apart if they continue to underperform.
The Jets have such a good run defense that teams are going to focus on beating them through the air, and so far the secondary has not looked like they are up for that challenge. The Jets need to get back to being physical with receivers off the line and forcing them off their routes. They have the talent, and they need to play up to their ability.
The secondary needs to be fixed quickly, or the Jets are going to continue to allow quite a few points, and continue to lose games.