In three preseason games, the New York Jets defense hasn’t surrendered a single passing or rushing touchdown.
The New York Jets defense–both the starters, plus the second- and third-stringers––haven’t allowed the opposition to take the ball over the goal line in three straight preseason games. Considering that glaring statistic, how much progress has the unit made?
It looks like a great sign, although we all need to admit that the pass rush hasn’t intimidated the Falcons, Redskins, or Giants. Credit the impressive effort from the secondary, linebackers, and defensive line inside the red zone, even though facing second-level competition has played a role in the “no-TD” record to this point.
But the defense’s progress in limiting three teams to a series of field goals is paramount because winning teams that go deep into the playoffs always boast strong D’s. On top of that, there is the looming reality that Sam Darnold has cemented the starting quarterback position. As good (or, we hope, great) as Darnold may perform this season, it will be the defense’s responsibility to minimize the damage from the rookie quarterback’s inevitable mistakes. Field goals, rather than touchdowns, can easily mean the difference between wins and losses.
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Preseason is preseason. These exhibition games not only do not count in the standings, they are overblown player evaluation demonstrations. No defensive touchdowns thus far is a feather in the cap of the Jets defensive players and coaches. However, the Jets are not only using the games to determine the quality of their players; they and every team across the NFL are putting potentially available opposition players under the microscope, waiting for cutdown day.
There have been rumors of Jets’ offers to the Jaguars, Broncos, and Raiders for top-flight pass rushers (Dante Fowler, Shane Ray, and Khalil Mack) who are either on the outs with their respective organization or, in Mack’s case, extending their holdout as leverage for a much better multi-year deal.
But as far as the Jets hopes for regular quarterback pressures, the big day may be coming next weekend. As we enjoy a Labor Day weekend, all NFL teams will make their 53-man roster decisions and announce their cuts. There will likely be linebackers and, less so, defensive linemen that will intrigue Mike Maccagnan and Todd Bowles for their ability to pressure opposing quarterbacks.
With or without additions (except for Mack–a long shot at best), don’t expect the Jets to come close to leading the AFC in sacks. But the situation might improve to the point that the defense’s stalwart wall stopping touchdowns in preseason holds up to some degree when the real games start.