One of the keys to the Jets' commanding victory over the Dolphins Sunday was the defense's ability to come up with third down stops. The Dolphins went 0 for 12 on third down. I took a look at the plays. Here are some of the key things I found.
- There is an expression that the best defense is a good offense. In this game, the best third down defense for the Jets might have been their first and second down defense. The Jets consistently put Miami into third and long situations. Eight of of the twelve third downs required the Dolphins to pick up at least 10 yards. There were more third downs where the Dolphins had to go at least fifteen yards (three) than third downs where they had to go five or less yards (two). Obviously, the more yardage the offense has to go, the more difficult it is to pick up the first down. There are strategic points also. On third and long, the offense must become one-dimensional. On a third and three or four, the run is a viable option. On third and ten and longer, the offense is almost compelled to pass. This allows a defense to attack, and that is what the Jets did.
- On ten of the twelve third downs, the Jets sent at least five pass rushers. This might even be understating how frequently the Jets blitzed. The only two times the Jets sent less than five after Ryan Tannehill were a third and fifteen and a third and nineteen.
- On nine of the twelve, the Jets had TWO inside linebackers blitz. Demario Davis blitzed by himself a tenth time.
- On nine of the twelve, the Jets had a blitzer come from the secondary.
- These weren't just blitzes. They were aggressive blitzes. On six of the twelve third down plays, the Jets sent at least seven.
- I counted four incompletions that coincided with either a pass rusher forcing Tannehill or his spot or hitting him. There was also a deflected ball. Buster Skrine was responsible for two of these pressures, and neither one was on that sequence near the end of the first half when he blitzed from the slot on three straight plays.
- Tacking well is important in an attack style defense. Since so many players are blitzing, there are fewer guys in the back. When a pass is completed, a missed tackle can mean big yardage. Tannehill actually completed half of his third down passes, but the Jets tackled the receiver short of the sticks on all of them.
Let's see how long the Jets can go without allowing another third down conversion.