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Identifying an area for improvement for the New York Jets: Limiting explosive plays allowed

The Jets defense has been great, but there’s always room for improvement

NFL: New York Jets at Pittsburgh Steelers Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL’s bye week not only allows players to rest, but also allows teams to identify areas of improvement. The New York Jets defense has been so good that it’s tough to identify anything too glaring, but there is always room for improvement.

Specific to the Jets defense, it is built around the idea of limiting explosive plays. Per Robert Saleh:

“When offenses can generate an explosive play in a drive, their percentages of scoring are astronomical,” Saleh said. “It’s almost guaranteed that they’re going to get three points. Two explosives in a drive, you might as well just put seven on the board and kick the ball off.

“So, the objective is to make them go earn it.”

This emphasis on limiting explosive plays makes perfect sense. Scoring in the NFL is hard. Regularly ripping off 15 play scoring drives is even harder, so forcing teams to try to do so maximizes the likelihood that a self-inflicted wound like a holding penalty, a dropped pass, or a sack will end a drive.

However, the 2023 Jets defense has yet to really excel in the limiting explosive plays department. In fact, through the first 6 weeks, the Jets have been rather mediocre in explosive plays allowed per game with 5.7, which is just about average across the NFL this season.

Of note, plays were defined as explosive if they met one of two criteria:

  1. A pass play that went for 20+ yards
  2. A run play that went for 10+ yards

For the Jets, they seem to be allowing about 3 of each per game. If they can cut this number down then their defense may be able to further their dominance, maximizing the Jets chances of winning any given game in 2023.