1 – A different defense
The New York Jets had the worst defense in football last season. Last in total defense and last in points allowed. But after a solid draft class headlined by cornerback Sauce Gardner, veteran free agent additions like safeties Jordan Whitehead and LaMarcus Joyner and continued investment in the defensive front the Jets defense has been transformed into a legitimate top 10 unit.
Ranked sixth overall, the Jets have top 10 rankings against the run and the pass and sit just outside the top 10 in points allowed (11th). Senior reporter for NYJets.com, Eric Allen in an appearance on One Bills Live this week, said the defense is strong from front to back, but believes the major upgrade at cornerback is the biggest difference.
“The dynamic at cornerback has flipped dramatically with the Jets with the addition of Sauce Gardner and DJ Reed,” said Allen. “It’s allowed the safeties to play a little more free, provide more help to the linebackers in coverage or sometimes play just single high safety if they want to because they feel so comfortable with Reed and Sauce Gardner on the outside.”
DT Quinnen Williams has also been a force at defensive tackle, as he was just named AFC Defensive Player of the Month for October after logging 23 tackles, 4.5 sacks, a forced fumble, fumble recovery and batted pass in five games last month.
“Quinnen Williams is one of the most if not the most disruptive interior D-linemen in the game right now,” said Bills QB Josh Allen. “C.J. Mosley is playing at a high level again. They’ve got some young guys flying around. You look at the corners, with their high draft pick, Gardner, he’s playing really well right now. We’ve got to be ready for everything they can throw at us. They don’t bring too much pressure. They just let four guys go. So, we’ve got to have a plan for their front four. When they do bring pressure, we’ve got to make sure we’re protected the right way and making sure we’re good on communication and where our hot (routes) are.”
New York’s big free agent acquisition last year was edge rusher Carl Lawson, who ruptured his Achilles in the preseason and missed all of 2021. He’s back healthy and has four sacks in eight games for the Jets along with an NFL high 45 QB hits and pressures.