A heaping helping of Thursday Whispers

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Let’s breakaway

from the non-stop Zach Wilson talk for a minute and talk about something that must be fixed if the Jets hope to have a successful season on defense.

And that is their run defense, which was problematic last season.

“They are an eight-man front team and they were 32nd in rushing attempts allowed, 32nd in touchdowns allowed rushing,” said VSIN’s Mike Lombardi, a former NFL GM. “Here is the reality. When you allow touchdowns rushing, it’s the easiest way to score points. [One] reason it’s hard in the red zone is most teams will play run defense and they force you to throw balls into tight windows. But that wasn’t the case with the Jets. If you want to score, just run it in, even [against] an eight-man front.”

People might wonder why I quote this guy so much. In a day and age of so many people trying to be PC and not ruffle feathers, he delivers straight talk on the NFL. And it’s not just that he’s a straight shooter, but he worked for Bill Walsh, Al Davis and Bill Belichick during a three-decade career in the NFL. He’s not right about everything but is knowledgable and shoots straight, which is rare these days.

So now that I got that out of the way, let’s get back to his run defense issue.

How often do you remember last season, seeing opposing running backs waltz into the end zone, without enough push back, like the 45-30 loss to Indianapolis, where they gave up 260 yards rushing?

This has to change big-time this year. People can talk about Wilson non-stop, but this topic is just as important. If you can’t stop the run in the NFL, where are you going?

Perhaps improved personnel will help with the return of Carl Lawson (pictured above) at end, the addition of Solomon Thomas at defensive tackle, and Kwon Alexander at linebacker.

Those three should help.

But some of the guys who were part of their low-ranked run defense last year were brought back, including three guys up the middle, Nathan Shepherd, Quincy Williams and Ashtyn Davis. Shepherd has a great motor, but he’s on the ground too much, and is too often tied up by one-blocker, Williams and Davis need to improve the sophistication of their eyes because their instincts led to them taking bad angles against the run at times.

Facing Lamar Jackson and the Ravens’ rushing attack will give us a good litmus test to see if the Jets’ problematic run defense from last year has improved . . .

Speaking of problematic, that is certainly a good word to describe the shoulder injury to Jets left tackle Duane Brown, who has only been with the team since August 15, signed after Mekhi Becton suffered a season-ending knee injury for the second straight season.

Some would argue that signing a 37-year-old offensive lineman with a lot of wear-and-tear is risky. Some would argue players of all ages get hurt.

Remember, a couple of years ago, the Jets had a big dispute with a veteran lineman who hurt his shoulder, and wouldn’t play with something they thought he could. Brown has a good history of playing through injuries, so we will see where this goes, but obviously they could move George Fant back to left tackle, and plug in Max Mitchell or Conor McDermott on the right side.

If Brown is out for a while, they have to move Fant back to left tackle. Joe Flacco isn’t as mobile as he used to be, so you can’t mess around with his blindside protection, and have him lower his eye level because he’s concerned with getting hit all the time.

Lowering your eye level at the QB position is common when a guy gets hit a lot, and Flacco is at his best when he uses his great height to look down field and makes plays . . .

Running back Tevin Coleman’s locker is still intact as is guard Dru Samia. These players were both waived over the summer at different times . . .

September 8, 2022

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Dan Leberfeld
Dan Leberfeldhttps://www.jetsconfidential.com
Publisher of Jets Confidential Magazine. Call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4) to subscribe. Co-host of Press Coverage every Saturday on SiriusXM NFL Radio from 11-2.

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