The New York Jets defense put forth an embarrassing, disinterested performance in the team’s 41-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills. How does the unit grade out following the disappointing loss?
Pure apathy. There are no words that better exemplify the effort that the New York Jets defense showed during Sunday’s 41-10 blowout at the hands of the hapless Buffalo Bills.
The Bills entered the week on pace to finish the season with one of the worst offenses in NFL history. As of a couple weeks ago, Buffalo was averaging just 234 yards per game, the lowest by any NFL team since 2005. In a year where the NFL has seen it’s highest offensive statistics ever, that’s downright embarrassing.
Using Football Outsiders’ DVOA (defense-adjusted value over average) statistic, the Bills offense was statistically the worst NFL offense ever through the first seven weeks of the season when compared to league average. Not only that, but the team trotted out veteran backup Matt Barkley under center who hadn’t taken a snap in nearly two full years.
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Despite all this, the Jets defense, by some measures a top 10 defense this year, surrendered 34 offensive points to the seemingly hopeless Bills offense.
There are no excuses for that. Absolutely none.
This wasn’t an issue of talent level nor was it an issue of preparedness. The Jets defense simply phoned it in.
Now, this isn’t intended to attack certain players or question the effort of particular members of the team. Rather, essentially the entire defense appeared to just be going through the motions. The team lacked spark, lacked fire, and lacked any sense of energy.
That’s just as much a statement about the head coach as it is the players.
One of the many jobs of a head coach is to prepare his players mentally and schematically for every new challenge each week. Todd Bowles, for all intents and purposes, failed to do either of those things on Sunday.
The Jets defense wasn’t just outmatched and outclassed by one of the worst offenses in recent memory, they were straight up disgraced.
The level of embarrassment emanating off that football field on Sunday doesn’t happen if the players desire to win matches their opponents. It doesn’t happen if their coach is able to inject energy and enthusiasm into his players. And it most certainly doesn’t happen if the team respected their coach enough to play for him.
With Bowles likely to remain a part of the coaching staff for the remainder of the 2018 season, it remains to be seen as to how the defense will perform over the final six games of the year. Unfortunately, it appears as though they will have to rely solely on self-motivation to get by.
One of the only players who showed any sort of vitality was safety Jamal Adams. Despite the poor overall defensive showing, Adams was all over the field on Sunday picking up four tackles and a half sack making his presence felt as always.
On one particular play midway through the first quarter, a blitzing Adams knocked blocking running back LeSean McCoy off his feet and delivered a hefty hit on Barkley forcing an incomplete pass. The second-year safety remains the heart and soul of the Jets defense and should continue to be on of the few bright spots over the final stretch of the season.
Other than Adams, however, it’s difficult to find any positive takeaways on defense. The Jets cornerbacks had rough days covering the inexperienced and unproven Bills receivers with Trumaine Johnson and Buster Skrine being the biggest culprits.
Johnson returned for his first game since Week 4 and struggled early on getting toasted by the undrafted Robert Foster for 47 yards on the very first play of the game. It was just Foster’s third career catch and his first of three on the day as the Jets secondary made Foster look like a veteran deep threat as opposed to an unseasoned rookie.
Meanwhile, Skrine was consistently beaten throughout the afternoon by second-year wide receiver Zay Jones who put together a career day catching eight passes for 93 yards and a touchdown. Jones hadn’t hauled in more than six grabs or 70 yards in any game in his entire career until this past weekend.
Skrine will be an unrestricted free agent after this season and the team will likely look to replace him as the former Cleveland Brown pushes 30. The Jets would be wise to get an extended look at rookie Parry Nickerson over the final six games to see if he could be the team’s nickel corner of the future.
While the Jets pass defense was certainly poor, nothing was as deflating as the team’s pitiful attempt at defending the Bills rushing attack. McCoy rushed for a season-high 113 yards and two touchdowns averaging 4.4 yards per carry.
Taking nothing away from McCoy, the Bills rushing attack has been non-existent for the most part this year as the six-time Pro Bowler has been running behind one of the worst offensive lines in football. On Sunday, that offensive line manhandled the Jets front seven with little resistance from the Jets big men.
Again, this isn’t a question of talent level. Leonard Williams has the ability to be a game-changer and Henry Anderson, Nathan Shepherd, Steve McLendon, and Mike Pennel are all solid rotational pieces along the defensive line.
Not a single one of them stepped up on Sunday and the Bills were able to run all over the Jets as a result. Williams will get the most blame as he is widely regarded as one of the most talented players on the team’s defense but his inconsistency and tendency to disappear for large stretches is becoming very concerning.
The USC product is in line for a hefty contract extension in the offseason but the team should be wary of the amount and length they give him given his frustrating lack of consistency.
Altogether, not even the play of Adams can save the defense from a failing grade this week and if there was a grade worse than an “F,” they would have likely received that instead.