Jets 2013 Run Defense: Historically Great?

We all know that the Jets defensive line has been absolutely superb this year, in particular at just completely dominating opponents in the run game. Heck, even in games like this past Sunday in Buffalo where the entire team decides to collectively lay an egg, the run defense was still incredible as Bill's RB's had just 41 yards on 26 carries and every single member of the Jets stating DL had 9 tackles(!), a number that you almost never see from a single DL, much less 3 on the same line (particularly impressive considering none of them had any sacks).

So I was bored and decided to do some research on just how good the Jets run defense has been this year. I knew full well that they were at the very least the best in the league this year - easily leading the league by allowing just 73.2 yards a game and just a 2.9 average on carries - the question was, is the Jets defense this season on pace to do something historically great? The answer is yes.

Yards per Game

I decided to do research and go back 30 years to see how the Jets stack up versus excellent run defenses of the past. YPG however is a somewhat flawed statistic as it is necessarily predicated on how many rushes a team has seen. One team can be better than another in stopping runs, but if they see 10 more rushes per game they'll give up more yards. That's just the way it works.

Additionally, it is quite possible that a team like the 2013 Jets may see more rushes than other squads. This is partly twofold, as the Jets unfortunately have seen themselves on the back end of blowouts quite often (where teams like to run out the clock) and due to their poor offense, have never really been so far ahead in games as to make the other team just pass all the time.

Either way, it still is an important stat when measuring run defense as you will almost never see a team allowing so few yards on the ground without being an excellent run defense.

As of now the Jets have allowed 732 yards rushing through their first 10 games, an average of 73.2 yards against per game with the next closest team this season being the Cards at 81.4 (amazingly enough, the #4 team is the Broncos, all the way up at 92.7). I set my research back 30 years to see whether the 73.2 average per game was historically significant and whether any teams over that timespan were able to outperform them. Here's what I found......

  1. 2000 Ravens (60.6 YPG)
  2. 2006 Vikings (61.6 YPG)
  3. 2010 Steelers (62.8 YPG)
  4. 1995 49ers (66.3 YPG)
  5. 1994 Vikings (68.1 YPG)
  6. 1991 Eagles (71.0 YPG)
  7. 1998 Chargers (71.2 YPG)
  8. 2000 Giants (72.2 YPG)
  9. 1990 Eagles (73.1 YPG)
  10. 2013 Jets (73.2 YPG)

Yards per Carry

Looking at a team's Yards per Carry should tell you more than looking at their average per game. This is due to the fact that, plain and simple, it measures how effective a specific team is at stopping the run on a play-by-play basis. In this measure I also went back 30 years and the Jets ranked out even more impressively then they did at Yards per Game.

  1. 2000 Ravens (2.7 YPC)
  2. 2006 Vikings (2.8 YPC)
  3. 2007 Ravens (2.8 YPC)
  4. 2013 Jets (2.9 YPC)

If the Jets keep up their current pace (and of the 6 games remaining, at least 4 are against bad rushing offenses) the Jets would be one of only 4 teams in the past 30 years to hold opponents to under 3 yards a carry. If that is not impressive, I don't know what is.

1st Down Percentage

Frankly, I'm not quite sure how to determine what to make of this stat, which tells us on what percentage of a teams carries they made a 1st down. In this instance, the Jets have given up just 35 1st downs on 249 carries for a 1st down percentage of 14.1%. only goes back to 1991 (23 seasons) in giving out this stat and the only other team to even come in at lower than 15% is the 1991 Eagles at 13.8%. In other words, no team in the past 22 seasons has come even close to matching the Jets when it comes to preventing 1st downs on rushing attempts.

Football Outsiders DVOA

I cant pretend that I really understand the concept of DVOA, how it's calculated, what it means for a defense etc.....but I do know that Football Outsiders' DVOA is widely respected and that I should take a look at it.

First off, Football Outsiders has 2 different rankings: "weighted" (which gives precedence to games more recent/later on in the year) and "non-adjusted". In both of these categories the Jets have blown away the competition this season with a weighted DVOA against the run of -35.9% and a non-adjusted DVOA against the run of -30.7%. I decided to look back at the historical DVOA rankings on Football Outsiders to see whether any teams in their database had outperformed the Jets. The rankings go back to 1989 (i.e. last 25 seasons).


  1. 2000 Ravens (-36.6%)
  2. 2013 Jets (-35.7%)


  1. 2000 Ravens (-37.4%)
  2. 2006 Vikings (-33.3%)
  3. 1991 Eagles (-33.3%)
  4. 2013 Jets (-30.7%)

Have the 2013 Jets been the best run defense ever (or at least in the past 30 years) but at the very least they have certainly been historically good.

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