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How much was the Jets 2023 schedule to credit for their defense’s success?

Is the Jets’ defense likely to regress?

NFL: New York Giants at New York Jets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

One of the bigger surprises of the New York Jets’ 2022 season was the emergence of its defense. While the 2021 defense was rather bad (allowed the most yards and points), the 2022 defense was legitimately great, finishing with the 2nd lowest points allowed and the 4th lowest yards allowed.

While many reasons can be cited for why this improvement occurred (cough cough addition of cornerback Sauce Gardner cough), one reason that has been mentioned by critics is the Jets defense’s favorable schedule due to the high number of backup quarterbacks they faced. Admittedly, this criticism is fair as the Jets did play 6 of their 17 games against backups, which is undoubtably an advantage. However, the degree to which this advantage explains the success of the Jets defense may be overstated.

In examining the numbers, the Jets defense allowed two less points per week when facing a backup quarterback compared to weeks where they did not face a backup quarterback. While this may explain the gaudy statistics they were able to post in some areas, the Jets defense was still extremely good when facing starters; specifically, they allowed only 18.8 points per week when facing a starter, which would have still left them tied for second in points allowed with the Baltimore Ravens.

Overall, while the Jets defense may regress for multiple reasons, it does not appear that facing more healthy starting quarterbacks will be among the biggest reasons if that were to occur.