Comparing 3-4 Defenses: Jets, Steelers, Packers, Chargers (Part 3)

A couple of days ago, I posted Part 1 of my comparison of some of the top 3-4 defenses of last year.  Part 1 set the stage comparing total defense and sacks.  The Jets compare well enough but are certainly missing the double-digit sack artist at OLB that the other defenses all have.  Still, though, the Jets do pressure opposing QBs just not enough perhaps from the front seven.

Part 2 posted yesterday focused on interceptions and forced fumbles.  Again, the Jets compare well enough, but they are certainly missing interceptions from the safeties and linebackers.

Today I'm posting Part 3, the finale, the wrap up...

In Part 1, I opened with a comparison of total defense hinting that the most important aspect of a great defense was keeping your opponents out of the endzone.  To highlight this, I like to look at defenses as a compilation of the performance of opposing running backs and quarterbacks over the 16 week schedule.  First up here is the performance of opposing running backs facing these defenses:

JETS:  408 attempts, 1,454 yards, 3.6 yard average, 11 TDs, 8 20+ yard gains, 12 fumbles

STEELERS:  333 attempts, 1,004 yards, 3.0 yard average, 5 TDs, 1 20+ yard gains, 5 fumbles

PACKERS:  395 attempts, 1,838 yards, 4.7 yard average, 6 TDs, 10 20+ yard gains, 6 fumbles

CHARGERS:  404 attempts, 1,500 yards, 3.7 yard average, 14 TDs, 7 20+ yard gains, 2 fumbles

The Jets as stated before compare very well against the run to the other three teams.  Opponents chose to run on us more than the others, perhaps as a nod to our secondary, but more than likely because our offense never forced teams to go to the air too early -- when you let your opponents hang around in games, they can still mix in the run.  I'd like to see that TD number go down a bit, but you have to be impressed with the fumbles.  I think the fumbles are a sign of an agressive group of experienced linebackers, but I can't really prove that point.

Next up is a comparison of the performance of opposing quarterbacks:

JETS:  531 attempts, 50.7 completion %, 3,210 yards, 6.5 average, 24 TDs, 12 INTs, 77.1 QB rating

STEELERS: 593 attempts, 61.2 completion %, 3,425 yards, 6.3 average, 18 TDs, 21 INTs, 73.1 QB rating

PACKERS:  527 attempts, 56.2 completion %, 3,107 yards, 6.5 average, 16 TDs, 24 INTs, 67.2 QB rating

CHARGERS:  487 attempts, 58.0 completion %, 2,845 yards, 6.4 average, 18 TDs, 16 INTs, 76.2 QB rating

The good and the bad jumps right off the screen for the Jets.  They are obviously confusing and confounding opposing QBs causing them to throw 50% of their passes incomplete.  However, the 24 TDs is alarmingly high.  Heck, I'd be happy if Sanchez threw 24 TDs and only 12 INTs.  For those that want to blame the lack of INTs on the Jets pass rush, I'd direct you first to the Chargers who had as many sacks as the Steelers and Packers but still only managed 4 more INTs than the Jets.  Then I would direct you to the outstanding, incredible 2009 Jets stat line, when we only had 32 sacks - see below:

2009 JETS Opposing QBs:
501 attempts, 51.7 completion %, 2,459 yards, 5.4 average, 8 TDs, 17 INTs, 58.8 QB rating

Unfortunately, I do not have the answer for what went wrong.  Are teams learning the Jets defense? Do we really need a  Kerry Rhodes type FS that much?  Was Revis just not himself?  Was Lito Sheppard actually better than Cromartie?  Did the attempt to use blitzing DBs to pick up the pass rush cause big holes in the secondary?  Again, I really don't know but I hope Rex can fix this.  A review of the TDs we gave up, shows 18 TDs to WRs and 6 TDs to TEs.  Of the WR TDs, I can identify at least 5 that were in the slot, but that still leaves a number that went to WRs lined up against our CBs - that includes 2 TDs to each of Randy MossPercy HarvinWes Welker, Brandon Marshall, and Johnny Knox.  On a side note, there were no TDs given up to RBs or FBs in the pass game - I thought that was kind of interesting - thank you linebackers.

I think the issue is a combination of the lack of a true free safety, the Revis injury and trying to get pass rush from blitzing DBs, which as teams learn to counter, leaves gaping holes in the secondary.  The defense is obviously still disruptive causing opposing QBs to miss on half of their passes, but the QBs are finding spots and throwing TDs.  As much as we can argue the Jets pass rush needs to improve, particularly at OLB, I think its undeniable that we really need help at Safety particularly Free Safety.  The good news is the draft is coming next week.  Hopefully we can address these needs.

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