Following back-to-back 5-11 seasons, the New York Jets, who are in a rebuilding stage, will be looking to improve and return to the playoffs in the coming years. Linebacker Darron Lee actually feels as if the team is only a few small improvements away from once again being a contender.
Throughout the 2017 season, the New York Jets obviously had a plethora of issues, but one glaring problem was the number of penalties committed by the defense. The team was tied for eighth in the NFL in penalties committed and ranked ninth in penalty yards, while only compiling 20 takeaways, a number many teams exceeded.
The defense of the Jets had its moments but when it mattered most, fell short. They do, however, have some key players on defense and if everyone buckled down on careless defensive penalties that extended drives, they could be a force to reckon with.
And as far as linebacker Darron Lee, who recently spoke to Darryl Slater of NJ Advanced Media, is concerned, fixing these issues will push the Jets that much closer towards being a post-season caliber team:
“If we trim down the penalties and get takeaways, we are a playoff-contending team, easily,” Lee said. “We really want to increase takeaways. If we increase takeaways, we’re going to win a lot more ball games. I know that for a fact. I feel like that’s what we’re really missing. And trimming down on the penalties for sure. Oh, man. That’s been a huge emphasis this offseason.”
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In regards to increasing takeaways, it’s possible that the secondary will be called upon to not only attack the ball more but to secure the ball more this year. Throughout 2017, the Jets’ defense only brought in 11 interceptions as a unit, with none of them resulting in touchdowns for the Green and White.
That number, however, should increase this year, as high-profile cornerback Trumaine Johnson was signed to a lucrative deal this offseason. Playing for the Los Angeles Rams, Johnson has accumulated 10 interceptions himself over the last three seasons alone.
Also, safety Jamal Adams, who performed well in his rookie season last year, failed to bring in a single interception, although he had his chances. He’s been very vocal this offseason about committing himself to improvement, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see his numbers increase next year as well.
As far as Lee goes, the former Ohio State Buckeye played well last season, totaling 94 combined tackles, three sacks, and two fumble recoveries. The Jets, however, are still expecting more out of him, specifically in pass coverage. If he continues to improve as well, the Jets defense will mesh together better as a whole.
Moving into 2018, reducing penalties and increasing takeaways should certainly be a goal as Lee mentioned, although the team may still be a year or two from returning to the playoffs. The Jets do, however, seem to be moving in the right direction.