The NY Jets went into their Week 3 matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals looking to take advantage of an opposing offense that had struggled mightily through the first two weeks of the season.
The Bengals had scored just 37 points through two weeks and had yet to even hold a lead at any point in a game prior to their meeting with the Jets. There was a clear cause for this too.
The offensive line, while improved, was still playing poorly. Joe Burrow was being careless with the football and inviting pressure from opposing defenses. Most importantly, teams seemed to have figured out the Bengals' kryptonite: Cover 2.
The Bengals had been abysmal against Cover 2 defenses through the first two weeks of the season, something teams took advantage of at times last season.
The Jets don't run a lot of Cover 2 most weeks, but the hope/expectation was that they would adapt to attack their opponent's weakness. Unfortunately, anything but that happened.
Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich should shoulder a lot of the blame for the NY Jets' Week 3 loss
Rather than adapt their scheme to fit their opponent, the Jets continued to run the same defense they've run for the last two seasons. In doing so, they deployed a true Cover 2 look just once all game.
In Week 1 and Week 2, teams ran Cover 2 an average of 35 percent of the time. The Jets ran it just two percent of the time in Week 3. That's a recipe for disaster.
The Jets were notably burned by this decision on Tyler Boyd's 56-yard touchdown. This play might be remembered more for the Jets' all-out blitz as well as Jordan Whitehead's missed tackle, but the coaching staff set them up to fail.
No quarterback in the NFL has been better against single-high coverage since entering the league than Burrow. He also notoriously thrives against the blitz. The Jets combined both of Burrow's strengths into one defensive package. The end result shouldn't have been a surprise.
No wonder Quinnen Williams blew up on the sideline.
This is just how this Jets coaching staff operates, though, at least on the defensive side of the ball. They're stubborn to their scheme and obstinate in their personnel decisions.
It's why Bryce Huff has been inactive in every game this season despite the team's utter lack of an edge presence. It's why they insist on rotating their defensive line so that even their best players are only on the field for 50-60 percent of snaps.
Unfortunately, this approach just isn't working. The Jets' defense ranks dead-last in the NFL in DVOA per Football Outsiders and is among the worst in almost every statistical category.
There's way too much talent on this defense for it to be ranked that poorly, especially given Saleh's background. It ultimately falls on defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, but Saleh isn't without blame. This is his defense too — it's his scheme that he helped create.
The Jets don't have a defensive identity right now — unless you count stubbornly sticking to a failing scheme and playing to your opponents' strengths as an identity.
Something needs to change, and it needs to change quickly. If not, a coaching staff shakeup might be in order.