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Will the Jets score a defensive touchdown in 2018?

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Antonio Allen was the last Jet defender to get six; who will be the next?

New England Patriots v New York Jets Photo by Ron Antonelli/Getty Images

The Jets are in the middle of an embarrassingly long drought that trumps the ineptitude of any other in the NFL. No, not their playoff drought. I’m talking about their dearth of defensive touchdowns.

Okay, that was an exaggeration. Still, the Jets have not scored a defensive touchdown since October 20, 2013, when Antonio Allen picked off Tom Brady and took it to the house. That’s a pretty darn long time ago. Geno Smith was making his first starts in the NFL. The Jets were about to reach .500 for the fifth time in six seasons. The Golden State Warriors, Chicago Cubs, Cleveland Cavaliers, Philadelphia Eagles, Houston Astros, and Kansas City Royals all were still at least a couple years away from breaking their championship droughts. There was no such thing as a third Star Wars trilogy and there was only one Avengers movie. It was a way different world, back then.

Just how inept is it for a team to not score on defense for four consecutive seasons? The Jets are the only team with zero defensive touchdowns since 2014. Every other team in the NFL has at least 3 during that span. The Broncos lead the league with 16! As a Jet follower, it is hard to even imagine that total as possible! The average NFL team has about 8.5 defensive touchdowns since 2014; or about 2 per season.

How do teams score defensive touchdowns? Let’s look at a breakdown of how all of the 274 defensive touchdowns since 2014 have been scored.

You can clearly see that interceptions are the primary way of scoring defensive touchdowns, making up about two-thirds of the total. Many of those picks are likely pressured throws. With sacks adding in another 19%, this suggests that producing a pass rush is vital to creating defensive scores. So, while the Jets have certainly been on the wrong end of some bad luck when it comes to scoring defensive touchdowns, have they done their part in increasing their chances?

The answer to that is a mostly resounding no. While it definitely takes some bad luck to never accomplish a feat that most teams do with regularity, the Jets have done little to maximize their chances of becoming a productive touchdown-scoring team on defense. Since 2014, they have forced 66 turnvovers, tied for the second fewest in the NFL. They have collected 137 sacks, 20th in the league. Clearly the Jets haven’t shifted the odds in their favor in this department.

Another factor that needs to be kept in mind is that defensive scores become increasingly common the closer the offense is to its own end zone when it snaps the ball.

The Jets have only forced 8 turnovers inside the opponent’s 20, tied for 3rd fewest in the league, but they have collected 23 sacks in that range, 12th in the league. They also have forced their opponents to run 603 plays inside their own 20, 16th in the league. This suggests that there has definitely been some bad luck involved for the Jets in their lack of scoring on defense. In the most fruitful zone for defensive scoring, they have been only slightly below league average with their overall playmaking level. They are by no means a team that has put itself in tremendous position to score on defense, but they are also certainly not the team that has put itself in the worst position. Luck should trend their way eventually.

Trumaine Johnson is the most intriguing new addition to the Jets defense and also brings the most promise to help the team score a defensive touchdown. Johnson has scored three pick sixes in his career, all coming in the past four seasons with one each in three separate seasons.

The hottest zone for total defensive touchdowns (as opposed to the rates seen above) is between the offense’s 21 and 40 yard line, in which 108 defensive scores have occurred on plays snapped in that range since 2014. Johnson has been an absolute monster there.

Over the past four seasons, Johnson has 6 interceptions in that range, 6th most in the league, with 2 touchdowns, 2nd most in the league. His 123 interception return yards in that range is the 3rd most in the league. To boot, he’s added two fumble recoveries, one of them forced on his own. He has thrived in the most prolific range for defensive scoring, and that is a great sign for the Jets’ hopes of breaking their defensive scoring drought.

Avery Williamson brings some promise as well. For his career (began in 2014) Williamson has a total of 2 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles, and 2 fumble recoveries. Those numbers may not jump out at you, but to compare, Demario Davis has 1 interception, 1 forced fumble, and 5 fumble recoveries in his career over 33 more games. Darron Lee has no picks, no fumble recoveries, and 2 forced fumbles in his two-year career.

Back to Williamson, he has done some work in the “money ranges” as well. Williamson has a pair of forced fumbles on the receiving end and a fumble recovery on a sack under his belt, all three coming on plays snapped inside the opponent’s 30.


So, what say you? Are the Jets going to break the plane on defense in 2018? Or will the most infamous drought in sports history continue?

Poll

Will the Jets score a defensive touchdown in 2018?

This poll is closed

  • 18%
    Yes, 3 or more
    (58 votes)
  • 32%
    Yes, 2
    (103 votes)
  • 30%
    Yes, 1
    (98 votes)
  • 18%
    Nope
    (59 votes)
318 votes total Vote Now