The New York Jets will be tested by Denver’s breakout offensive star
One thing that the New York Jets defense has done well through two games is finish tackles. Based on Pro Football Reference’s tracking, Jets defenders have missed only seven tackles this season, tying for the fourth-fewest in the NFL.
That strength will be put to the test by the Denver Broncos on Sunday – particularly by one player in particular.
We’re talking about one of the NFL’s most elusive running backs of the young season: second-round rookie Javonte Williams.
The college backfield-mate of Jets rookie Michael Carter at North Carolina, Williams has been a nightmare to bring down. Pro Football Focus credits him with 11 missed tackles forced over 27 rush attempts, an average of 0.407 per carry that ranks second-best among qualified running backs.
Williams is in some incredible company. He trails only Nick Chubb (0.538) among qualified running backs. Among all positions, Lamar Jackson is sandwiched between the two (0.476). Dalvin Cook (0.333) sits one spot behind Williams.
Carter has also shown some slipperiness to begin his career. He has forced four missed tackles over 15 carries, an average of 0.267 per carry that ranks 11th-best out of 41 qualified running backs. That squeezes him between Najee Harris (0.269) and James Conner (0.250).
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Williams will challenge the plethora of Jets defenders who have been tackling with smooth fundamentals to begin the season. Cornerback Bryce Hall has made seven tackles without a single miss. C.J. Mosley (14 tackles), Michael Carter II (13 tackles), Javelin Guidry (7 tackles), and Brandin Echols (7 tackles) each have only one missed tackle apiece over an extended sample of opportunities.
The Jets’ relatively small rookie linebackers – each early in the process of converting from safety – will be vulnerable against the powerful 220-pound Williams.
Hamsah Nasirildeen (215 pounds) has missed two tackles while making only three this season. Returning rookie Jamien Sherwood (216 pounds), who is expected to start beside Mosley after missing the previous game with an ankle injury, had some issues as a tackler in the preseason. He made 11 tackles but missed two, including an ugly one in the open field that resulted in a long touchdown by Eagles running back Boston Scott.
The duel of UNC ball carriers is one of the most entertaining mini-battles of Sunday’s Jets-Broncos clash. For the Jets, Michael Carter can make a loud statement if he consistently breaks tackles against a sound Denver defense that has missed a league-low 5 tackles.
On the Broncos’ side, Williams is poised to be a tremendous measuring stick for a Jets defense that has also tackled excellently.