There was so much concern about how putrid the New York Jets offense would be in 2017, but it appears we need to worry about the defense just as much.
The Jets’ 45-20 loss to the Oakland Raiders on Sunday was more than your average blowout, for a few reasons. One, the Raiders rang up more points on New York than any team ever has in the Todd Bowles era. The Jets gave up 34 to the Raiders two years ago and again to Miami last year; 45 is a whole new level.
Secondly, the Jets were gashed by Oakland’s ground game. Marshawn Lynch actually gained the third-most rushing yards for the Raiders (45 yards). Jalen Richard led the team with 58, thanks mostly to a 52-yard touchdown scamper, and wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson surprised many people by lining up in the backfield a few times, taking three carries for 57 yards and a touchdown.
Oakland gained 180 rushing yards on New York one week after the Buffalo Bills totaled 190. Through two weeks, the Jets have the worst rushing defense in the league.
This is more important, in my opinion, than the Jets’ scoring defense. Meditate on this a bit — the Jets have the worst rushing defense in the league. For years, the one constant for this team was its stout run D. Even as teams started to beat New York through the air, they were at the very least top-10 against the run.
So when your reliable trait goes out the window, you have nothing left to rely upon.
“I was more pleased with the front seven this time,” Bowles said following the Week 2 loss. “There’s some things on the perimeter that got out and we gotta correct, and some of the young guys played young at times and gave up some plays. But for the most part, interior-wise, up front, I thought they were where they were supposed to be.
“We missed tackles,” he added. “When we miss tackles, should’ve been a four-yard gain, but we missed a tackle and it went for six.”
Or, in the case of Richard’s touchdown, 52. For the record.
I am not one to call for anyone’s job this early in a season, but we should start watching Kacy Rodgers with a skeptical eye. Rodgers has been the Jets’ defensive coordinator since Bowles arrived and set up his staff. He was a defensive line coach across various colleges and pro teams for the previous 20 years. He’s now in his third year coaching Muhammad Wilkerson in his prime. Leonard Williams is on this line. Yet there’s no pass rush to speak of and there’s no longer a run-stuffing element to fall back on, either.
The Jets get a bit of a break for the next few weeks as they host Miami and Jacksonville before going to Cleveland. None of these teams have world-beating offenses and none are playoff contenders. On paper, New York should handle them fine. But that’s on paper. Maybe our expectations have been too high, based on what’s on paper.