Robert Saleh, Jeff Ulbrich
Robert Saleh, Jeff Ulbrich, New York Jets, Getty Images

New York Jets defense isn’t just bad: it’s as bad as it has ever been

The New York Jets defense embarrassed itself on national television this Thursday night, letting up 45 points, 532 total yards, and 260 rushing yards to the Indianapolis Colts in a 15-point defeat. Most of that production was accumulated by about halfway through the third quarter.

In many ways, this was one of the worst defensive performances in franchise history.

Considering that this showing comes only two weeks after the Jets yielded 51 points to the Patriots, the unit is also on track to become one of the worst groups – if not the worst – Jets history.

Here is the one stat that tells the whole story: the Jets are allowing 31.4 points per game this season. That is not only the worst mark in the NFL this season, but it would be the worst average in the history of New York Jets/New York Titans football if maintained.

The current record is 30.9, set in 1975.

Things are getting ugly to an extent that Jets fans have never seen before. Let’s dig into a few of the most mind-boggling numbers behind this particular showing of awfulness in Indy.

8.7 yards per play allowed

The Colts were getting chunk gains whenever they wanted and however they wanted. Indianapolis averaged 8.7 yards per play.

That is the third-worst mark allowed by the Jets in team history.

532 total yards allowed

Indianapolis racked up 532 yards of offense, which is the 12th-best total ever accumulated against the Jets.

Just two weeks earlier, the Jets allowed 551 yards to the Patriots, which is the eighth-best total a team has ever amassed against New York.

The Jets forced zero turnovers in both games. These two abominable performances mark just the third and fourth instances in franchise history in which the Jets allowed over 500 yards and forced zero turnovers. It had previously happened in 2003 against the Colts and in 1986 against the Dolphins.

30 carries for 260 yards

New York yielded 260 rushing yards to the Colts on only 30 carries.

That is an average of 8.7 yards per rushing attempt – the fourth-worst total ever allowed by a Jets defense.

The Colts’ running backs were actually even better than that. Jonathan Taylor and Nyheim Hines combined for 246 yards on 25 carries (9.8 per attempt).

Indianapolis’ total of 260 rushing yards is tied for the 12th-worst total allowed by the Jets.

The Jets also allowed the Colts to score three rushing touchdowns. This is just the ninth time in franchise history that they allowed 250+ rushing yards and 3+ rushing touchdowns – it is the first time it has happened in the 21st century. The last occurrence was in 1983, when the Jets allowed the Patriots to rack up 328 rushing yards and three scores.

408.1 yards per game allowed

New York is now allowing a league-worst 408.1 yards per game – on pace to be the worst mark in franchise history. The current record is 389.7, set in 1975. Closely following in second place is the 2020 squad, which allowed 387.6 yards per game.

This is rock bottom for the New York Jets defense

Simply put, this would be the worst defense in New York Jets history if the season ended today.

That is not acceptable for a unit that has as much talent as this one does. C.J. Mosley, Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, Foley Fatukasi, Sheldon Rankins, Bryce Hall, Michael Carter II, Marcus Maye – there are good players on this unit. Nobody expects them to be elite, but performing at this level is an incredible disappointment.

Right now, the whole is far lesser than the sum of its parts. That falls heavily on Jeff Ulbrich and Robert Saleh.

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at]jetsxfactor.com - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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Jets71
Jets71
10 months ago

I think I have mentioned this in training camp and somewhere on this site: when Saleh was saying, “keep it simple, repeat the same process until they get it right” sounds good but when they are keeping it simple and other teams are game planning, it won’t look so good. I’m not saying this is all scheme but there is a problem, and I’m not sure what it is at this point but I have some thoughts.

We can’t keep considering the CB’s “a nice surprise” and “doing a nice job” if the D is allowing so many yards/points. I’m growing tired of the “soft” coverage giving up easy 7-8 yard throws whenever the other QB feels like it. Hall gives up slants like it’s his job, not sure if it’s his problem but it’s not good. The safeties are an abomination and that included when Maye was playing. Ashtyn Davis doesn’t belong on a NFL field right now, and I’m very disappointed in his play. I had high hopes for him. It’s also time for everyone to stop talking about the Jets’ “front” as if it’s good. They had a very good game against Ten and since then my local HS has 4 guys on the DL that could produce the same results they have. JFM hasn’t done anything meaningful since signing that contract, and Q has made some very nice plays but he needs help. One guy can’t do everything 4 guys should be doing. Same for the LB’s, there is one guy who is good, the others are situational players, guys playing out of position or flat out trash (yes I’m talking about Blake Cashman as one).

All of that said, I also think there is a scheme problem. This is the NFL running your plan is only part of the equation, the other is scheming up ways to force offenses to do things they aren’t comfortable doing or taking away some things they do best. I don’t see much of that, I see soft coverage, 4 man rush, and LB’s running around in space with faster, quicker players. The occasional blitzes now turn into big plays. My guess is they have been scouted and other teams know how to use blitz breakers against them. I hate, and I’m using the word HATE, that when defensive coaches get hired as HC’s they get bashed for “not being a CEO type” or “spending too much time on their side of the ball” but when offensive “gurus” get hired they get to call their own plays and run the offense. It’s a joke. Saleh NEEDS to step in on the defensive side of the ball. He also needs to be himself. I saw it briefly vs. Cincy, when he got fired up for the D when they made the goal line stop. Trying to play the part of Bill Sleazechick isn’t going to work. He’s got to bring his passion to this team. Right now they have NONE. I mean ZERO! This looks like Todd Bowles, just standing on the sideline while he team plays flat, then he comes to the podium week after week saying “it’s unacceptable, we are embarrassed, we’ll get it fixed.”

We knew it wasn’t going to be consistently good but this is another thing all together. You guys have great breakdowns, where do they go from here?

Jets71
Jets71
10 months ago
Reply to  Michael Nania

Thanks for the reply. I’m not so concerned with the ranking or even the yards/points (well maybe a little) but as you mention they have some players. My worry is they aren’t getting the most out of what they do have which could slow down progress.