The New York Jets have struggled to defend the pass all season, ranking 23rd in the NFL in pass yards allowed per game. However, it was thought that yesterday’s matchup against the Buffalo Bills could be a good opportunity to get the secondary on track. After all, the Jets were coming off a bye, had just added Ed Reed and were facing a team with a rookie quarterback.
However, those hopes were quickly dashed, and the Jets’ secondary was awful once again. EJ Manuel shredded the Jets, completing 20/28 passes for 245 yards and 2 TDs. Antonio Cromartie and Dee Milliner were each beaten deep on multiple occasions, and each cornerback gave up a touchdown pass of at least 30 yards.
The Bills were without starting receivers Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods, but Marquise Goodwin and T.J. Graham had no trouble getting open against Cromartie and Milliner. Milliner in particular struggled yet again, as he played too far off of the Bills’ receivers and allowed several underneath completions for first downs. When he did try to press, Graham ran right by him for two big plays.
Cromartie was better than Milliner, but Goodwin just flat out smoked him for a 43 yard touchdown in the third quarter that ended any chances of a Jet comeback. Goodwin didn’t do anything special, instead just blowing by Cromartie and hauling in a perfect ball from Manuel for a touchdown.
Kyle Wilson and Darrin Walls weren’t pressed into too much action, though Chris Hogan did get the better of Wilson for a couple first downs. There seemed to be a possibility of bringing Walls in for Milliner again, but the truth is that Walls hasn’t been much better in the times Milliner has been benched.
As far as the safeties go, Reed was signed this week specifically to help prevent the deep ball. That didn’t work out so well, mostly because the Jets failed to put Reed in position to succeed. He was not able to play centerfield with the freedom he has had in the past, and the Jets need to figure out how to maximize his abilities.
Dawan Landry, Antonio Allen and Jaiquawn Jarrett were not asked to do much in the way of pass coverage, and unfortunately it is unlikely they would have made any difference. All three are run stoppers, so any improvement the Jets’ have in the secondary will have to come from the players who have struggled all season.
If the Jets are going to make the playoffs, it is essential that they improve their pass defense. The NFL is a passing league, and the Jets cannot afford to continue to give up big plays. The Jets have one of the best front sevens in the league, but their stellar play is repeatedly undone by the poor performances of their defensive backs. The Jets need their defense to carry them to the playoffs, but that will not happen without major improvement from their secondary.