The Jets defense has gone through a resurgence in the past few weeks, vaulting back into the top-10 in the league. One of the biggest differences has been their play on third down. Two weeks ago against the Cardinals, the Jets pitched a shutout, holding the Cardinals to 0-15 on third down. They followed that up with a 2-16 performance Sunday against the Jaguars. Here is what coach Ryan had to say about why it has been so much better:
I think it starts with our pass rush. The guys up front, especially Muhammad (Wilkerson), are really doing a great job beating one-on-one (protections) and actually having the running backs a lot of times as well. That’s really where it starts, being very mobile with our coverages and really running our package on third down. I think as the season goes on, you see our guys our more comfortable playing with each other (and knowing) what they can expect from each other, obviously, with LaRon (Landry) and Yeremiah (Bell). Getting Eric Smith back helps because he gives you so many different options (of) how you can use him. You can rush him. You can blitz him. You can man-cover (with him). The guy can play zone, high-zone and low-zone. Those are things that I really feel good about what we’re doing with guys. Antonio Allen stepped up in a big way (and) did a nice job rushing the passer primarily, but we know he has man-cover skills as well. I think (Coach) Mike Pettine, (Coach) Dennis (Thurman) and (Coach) Bob Sutton are doing a great job really having our guys prepared. I like the fact Quinton Coples is now starting to step it up also as a pass rusher and I think that helps us.
This has been the best that the Jets defense has performed in a long time, aside from the end of the game on Sunday when they let Jacksonville back in the game. If they can continue to get off the field on third down, it will be difficult to beat them.