The 2017 NFL Draft for the Jets were marked with even more commitment to the defense, as they doubled down on safeties in the first two rounds. So why did a team filled with so many holes throughout the roster focus on one position? It’s because they had one of the worst secondaries in the league last year. Throughout the off-season, we will break down the Jets’ secondary and their ineptitude in defending the pass. It goes without saying that not all the plays were bad, so we will show some of the few good plays first.
On this play, the Jets come out in press man coverage, with a single high safety in Pryor, with Gilchrist moving back as the ball is about to be snapped. This is the defense that most of the personnel on the team has been drafted for. Rex Ryan was infamous for being aggressive on third downs, and constructed a team that is more suited for press man coverage, and Todd Bowles followed a similar mantra thereafter. All the receivers are well covered, forcing Andy Dalton to move up into the pocket and take a sack. One thing of note here is Darrelle Revis, who is on press coverage with AJ Green. Notice how Green is well covered on this play, and not an option for Dalton.
The Jets are again in press coverage to begin this play, but Marcus Williams moves backwards before the ball is snapped. The Bengals are trying to set up a screen pass on this play (as you can see the lack of effort from the three receivers to the right of the play), but defensive lineman Lawrence Thomas makes a nice play to break it up. Once again, the Jets succeed with press man coverage, and a single high safety.
This is actually a great play, and design by the Jets. Revis is again playing press man coverage on AJ Green and covers him extremely well on this play. However, the pass is going away from that side, and towards the right side of the line. The Jets show very good adjustment here because they show man coverage, but switch to zone near the end, which is why this pass is intercepted. When Dalton throws this ball, he is presuming man coverage, for which this is a great throw. The ball is already in the air prior to the receiver making the break towards the outside, but Marcus Williams is switching on this play, and intercepts this pass. If the Jets were in man coverage, this most likely would be a completed pass.
The Jets get a sack on this play, and for the most part the secondary does their job. Revis is actually caught out of position for this play, as there is a quick opening for a pass as he reacts to the route, but Dalton is not looking towards the receiver. The rest of the crew holds their ground, forcing Dalton to move up in the pocket and get sacked. The target for the Bengals is the deep in route through the middle, but Darron Lee is blocking the passing lane on this play with a safety over the top. Dalton tries to buy time by moving up, but it doesn’t end in success.
The Jets do a good job of getting the sack here, and preventing a TD. Revis is the only CB on this play to not show press coverage (although another CB rolls into zone coverage once the play goes in motion) and the Bengals are clearly going to target the right side of the field on this play. The Bengals correctly surmise that the right side of the field will have Green vs. Revis (playing back) and a receiver cutting across the middle with a safety having to make a choice. The safety doubles Green on this play briefly, causing Dalton to wait for the play to develop. However, Leonard Williams gets the sack before Dalton could pull the trigger. It’s a good thing, because Revis gets beat by Green once the safety moves on and Green has an easy TD ahead of him if there is more time on this play.
The Jets show press man coverage again, with tiered safeties, and stop the Bengals on this third down. Notice Revis covering AJ Green again, and how playing press coverage helps him stay right with Green. The Bengals go to a check down play and Darron Lee makes a good read, and great tackle in open space.
The defense comes out again in press coverage, except one corner, and get the job done. Again, notice Revis playing press coverage on Green and succeeding. The only CB not playing press coverage seems to be Buster Skrine, who promptly gets beat to the out route but Dalton is not looking towards him.
The Jets show press man coverage with a single high safety on this play, and they bring the pressure with Williams. Again, notice how the defense holds up with press coverage.
The Jets did show some good tendencies at times, but this is not a roster that was good at playing zone coverage. They excelled better at press man coverage. Revis does a much better job on the receiver when he is in press coverage, and it’s a complete mystery as to why he abandons it during this game, and in the subsequent games. While this does paint a decent picture of the defense, you may not feel the same after the next article, which deals with the failures.