The Jets #1 problem . . . Dan Leberfeld

It’s easy to say the Jets “quit” in recent blowout losses to Miami and New England.

I don’t see it that way.

Let’s look at the defense in this blog.

Defenses that quit don’t play the run as hard as the Jets did in those two games. In the loss to the Dolphins, Miami’s Jay Ajayi ran 19 times for 51 yards for a 2.9 average. Ajayi ran for 206 yards against Buffalo yesterday.

In the Jets’ loss to the Patriots, New England’s LeGarrette Blount ran 20 times for 50 yards for a 2.5 average.

Those are two superb performances by the Jets’ run defense. Guy were flying around playing very hard, including safeties coming up and sacrificing their bodies to stop these two big backs.

The Jets’ biggest problem this year, by far, is pass defense. Their pass defense is really, really struggling.

And that is a huge issue in a passing league, and it’s not just defensive backs, but linebackers as well.

It’s not a lack of effort, aside from perhaps one guy, who often refuses to play the sticks on third down and might have been signed for marketing reasons (they can’t do this anymore).

The Jets’ lack of overall coverage speed is killing them. Obviously there are some fast guys (like Darron Lee), but not enough. Guys are trying, but faster targets are running away from them. Do you think David Harris didn’t try on the 25-yard TD by RB James White against New England? Harris always gives everything he’s got.

Some guys have stiff hips, so quick targets cut away from them.

Do you think that Rontez Miles didn’t give everything he could on Martellus Bennett’s TD? Of course he did, but he couldn’t deal with a quick cut into the end zone.

And there are a couple of players who just have bad instincts, and take false steps too often. They play hard, but struggle with things like combination routes.

And compounding the problem is a virtually non-existent edge pass rush (so important in a 3-4 defense), so this struggling pass defense often has to cover too long.

Todd Bowles needs to coach better, but from a defensive personnel standpoint, he hasn’t been dealt a great hand. His last year in Arizona, with the right players, he did a terrific job coaching that defense.

Suspect pass coverage, and the lack of any discernible edge-rush, is a toxic combination in a QB-driven league.

I’m not saying there aren’t other problems. I’m just saying this is the biggest one.

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