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Jets vs. Lions: Double Trouble

Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

There are four teams in the NFL tied for the lead in least yards allowed per rush on defense with a 2.8 average. One is your New York Jets. Another is the Super Bowl champion in Seattle. Another is Washington(?). The fourth is Sunday's opponent, the Detroit Lions.

From what I have seen I think the real strength of this defense is up the middle. Detroit has a pair of really talented tackles, the four time All Pro Ndamukong Suh, and Nick Fairley, who is off to a good start in a contract years. These two cause real problems for teams trying to block them. They require double teams, which keep the linebackers free to make plays.

When I watched Detroit's win against Green Bay, the Packers attempted 22 runs. I counted six (over a quarter) in which:

A. The gain was 3 yards or less

B. A linebacker either made a tackle or redirected a ball carrier without needing to get off a block

These guys are perfectly capable of making plays, but the blockers they eat up give Detroit's linebackers the space they need to get to ball carriers. Sometimes its subtle. On zone blocking plays double teams are common, but the way these guys gain leverage force a blocker to hold his block a little longer before going to the second level, which can make all of the difference in the world if the linebacker uses that extra time to get up the field.

If you want something of a silver lining, Suh is the more decorated and tends to line up against the right guard. That might spare us a Suh vs. Brian Winters matchup, but Suh isn't a good matchup for Willie Colon either. If the Jets use Nick Mangold to help Colon, it leaves Winters with Fairley, not exactly a great pairing from New York's standpoint.

Establishing the run might be a challenge.