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Jets vs. Jaguars: Week 4 defensive grades

JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 30: Jamal Adams #33 of the New York Jets is seen during the second half of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on September 30, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
JACKSONVILLE, FL - SEPTEMBER 30: Jamal Adams #33 of the New York Jets is seen during the second half of the game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at TIAA Bank Field on September 30, 2018 in Jacksonville, Florida. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)

The New York Jets defense put together a disappointing showing in the team’s 31-12 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars this past Sunday. How does the unit ultimately grade out following this disconcerting performance?

The New York Jets were undoubtedly expected to lose to the Jacksonville Jaguars when the two teams squared off in Week 4. After all, the Jaguars were fresh off an appearance in the AFC Championship Game last year and are a better team by about every conceivable measure.

But no one expected the Jets defense to struggle as much as they did against Blake Bortles and the Jaguars offense. Bortles completed 29-of-38 passes and threw for almost 400 yards as the once-hyped “New Jack City” Jets secondary got torched by the inconsistent Jaguars passing attack. But this isn’t, nor should it be, all about the numbers.

The Jets defense looked outmatched, outclassed, and worst of all outcoached.

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Nathaniel Hackett’s offense ran simple play schemes including straightforward crossing patterns with little resistance from the Jets defense. The most common pattern combination that was run seemed to be a simplistic drive concept with Dede Westbrook running a shallow crosser and a tight end, be it Austin Seferian-Jenkins or James O’Shaughnessy, running a deeper dig route.

This is a high-low passing concept designed to create space for the underneath route, that being Westbrook in this case. It can be an effective design, but it’s certainly not a complex idea by any means.

And therein lies the problem.

The Jaguars offense isn’t a Sean McVay offense. Nor is it a Kyle Shannahan offense. Jacksonville ran elementary concepts and the Jets simply never adjusted.

Part of that should definitely fall on the players who didn’t always do their part in sticking to their zone assignments ultimately playing another undisciplined game. At the same time, the utter lack of adjustment from defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers‘ defense is concerning and downright deplorable.

Excuses can be made from not until the end of time but the fact remains that Rodgers and head coach Todd Bowles had over a week to prepare for one of the more simplistic offenses in the NFL and they came out and got, for all intents and purposes, embarrassed.

Again, some of this is definitely on the players and the game tape will show that. But the Jaguars offense picked apart the Jets zone defense by running the same basic schemes in the passing game and that is totally unacceptable.

As for the defensive players themselves, Leonard Williams put together the best game of his 2018 season recording five total tackles and picking up his first full sack since Week 10 of last season. Wiliams has come under a good amount of criticism as of late for his lack of splash plays but for at least this week his “hidden production” finally showed up on the stat sheet.

His fellow defensive lineman Henry Anderson picked up another sack and the former Indianapolis Colt is now sitting pretty with two and a half on the season. Anderson has turned out to be quite the offseason steal as he was acquired during the past draft for just a seventh-round pick.

Anderson has been perhaps the Jets most effective defensive lineman thus far and his interior pass rush presence has been a huge plus to a Jets defense that has lacked a true edge rusher. That combined with his improved run stuffing ability has made him an overachieving pickup for the team.

Linebacker Avery Williamson had himself another eventful afternoon picking up nine total tackles and making a couple of splash plays later in the game that masked some of the defense’s flaws. The former Tennessee Titan deflected a pass from Bortles midway through the third quarter which fell right into the hands of an awaiting Darryl Roberts setting the Jets up for their first points of the day.

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Later, Williamson ripped the ball out of the hands of running back T.J. Yeldon forcing a fumble that was recovered and returned to the Jaguars five-yard line. This ultimately set up the team’s only touchdown of the game.

Williamson has settled nicely into the role that Demario Davis had with the team last year and while he still struggles from time-to-time in pass coverage, he seems to have a knack for the big play. The Kentucky product already had two sacks on the year coming into the game before adding a forced fumble and a pass deflection turned interception to his stat sheet.

The team once again got excellent production from second-year safety Jamal Adams who led the team in tackles for another week with an astounding 12 defensive stops. It’s evident to even the untrained eye that Adams is far an above a superior player to many of his defensive counterparts and he has shown immense improvement from last year.

The LSU product has really refined his game and he has proven to be the Jets swiss army knife, do-it-all kind of player. With the return of Marcus Maye, Adams was able to play more snaps from inside the box than any other game this year and that likely helped him record his dozen tackles.

Maye being healthy allows the Jets to play Adams close to the line of scrimmage more regularly giving him the best chance to make an impact on any given play, maximizing his potential. The duo could take the next leap forwards this year if Adams can continue his stellar play and Maye could stay healthy. The former Florida Gators safety didn’t look 100 percent on Sunday as he still appeared to be nursing the foot injury that kept him out the first three weeks of the season. Look for Week 5 to be a turning point for Maye who will have more time to heal up.

In terms of disappointment, it’s hard to argue that Trumaine Johnson shouldn’t be the one to be discussed. Johnson was torched in press coverage by Donte Moncrief for a 67-yard touchdown on a play that was ultimately the nail in the coffin for New York.

The Jets paid Johnson a lot of money in free agency to be a lockdown cornerback for the team and the former Los Angeles Ram hasn’t necessarily been that so far. He hasn’t been downright awful, but he certainly hasn’t made any game-changing plays and his man coverage has been questionable, to say the least. There’s still time to turn it around, but Johnson isn’t off to the best start with his Jets career.

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At the end of the day, the Jets defense completely underperformed against Jacksonville. Be it a combination of poor coaching and/or a lack of execution, the unit allowed over 500 yards of offense to a Jaguars team that had put up just six points the week prior. The three turnovers keep the grade from being any lower, but it’s hard to leave with many positives following this disappointing performance.

Final Grade: C-