4. The NY Jets defense still struggles situationally
This one hurts to mention, but it is still so true. The biggest problem with the Jets defense last year was their inability to create turnovers. I forget the exact stat and can’t seem to find it, but I believe the Jets set the record for most fumbles forced and least recovered last season.
To make matters worse, despite having arguably the best duo of cornerbacks in the league, neither seems to ever intercept the ball. Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed finished with a total of three interceptions last season. It simply isn’t good enough.
After a huge Week 1 performance that saw Jordan Whitehead intercept three passes and the defense recover a crucial Josh Allen fumble, it was back to the 2022 Jets on Sunday.
After pinning Dallas deep, already down 7-0, CeeDee Lamb took a slant 31 yards before Gardner forced a fumble. Despite five Jets defenders being within two yards of the ball, the Cowboys center sprinted down the field to fall on it. It would have set the Jets up with a short field early on with an opportunity to tie the game early at 7-7.
Two drives later, on a second and short, Dak Prescott pumped and threw to the flat late. Gardner jumped the route and got both hands on the ball without any contact. Despite this, he dropped the ball, or else he could have crawled to the endzone.
It was a game-changing play. Instead of a 14-10 Jets lead, Prescott and the Cowboys would drive the length of the field and score, plus get the two-point conversion, and take an 18-7 lead.
Even more so than just the missed turnovers, the Jets fail to make the plays that need to be made. On the opening drive, facing a 3rd and 6, Prescott avoided what should have been a sack, scrambled for 15 yards, and picked up a first down. They then scored a touchdown three plays later.
On the same drive, Gardner dropped the interception, but the Jets still forced a third-down incompletion after a beautiful Michael Carter II pass breakup. Unfortunately, a roughing the passer call extended the drive and led to a touchdown after two more crucial Jets defensive penalties.
This defense is supposed to be special. Robert Saleh and his unit believe they could be one of the best. Best-ever defenses don’t make those mistakes.
They changed the game. The defense didn’t lose the game, and the Cowboys' offense is really good, but they certainly didn’t help themselves either.