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New York Jets: Darned If You Don't (Linebacker Edition)

Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The situation the Jets face at cornerback has residual effects across the rest of the defense. Because the Jets lack corners who can man up with quality receivers, they have to play more zone than Rex Ryan would probably like. This creates its own issues because the Jets don't have particularly adept zone defenders. This is evident at many spots in the lineup, and Monday against Buffalo it showed itself at the linebacker position.

One problem you can run into playing zone coverage is ending up with a bad matchup, like a wide receiver against a linebacker. If you are playing man, a cornerback is going to stick with a wide receiver no matter where he goes. In zone coverage defenders are covering a spot on the field so if a receiver runs into that area, you can end up with a mismatch.

That is what happened on Buffalo's first touchdown. Robert Woods ends up one on one with David Harris. Even though the Jets have nine guys in coverage to clog the throwing lanes on a 17 yard chunk of field (and the Jets actually get a pass rusher to Orton rushing two!!!!!!), Woods ends up one on one in Harris' zone. Kyle Orton sees this, and puts the ball up. Harris doesn't have the athleticism or ball skills of Harris, and it's a touchdown.

On our second Buffalo touchdown we see how some Jets just don't have the tools to be effective zone defenders.

Scott Chandler finds a hole in the zone behind Demario Davis and in front of Jaiquawn Jarrett.

It looks here like Davis (red circle) has more room to drop to obstruct Kyle Orton's passing window because T.J. Barnes (green circle) has dropped into coverage to cover for him and take a shallow zone.

Instead Orton ends up with a pretty easy throwing lane, and it's a touchdown.

This is yet another example of how limited the Jets are defensively scheme wise and how ill-conceived the construction of this roster was. The Jets can't man up, but they also don't have linebackers who are capable of handling the increased responsibility zone coverage brings.

They're darned if they do and darned if they don't.