Jeff Ulbrich, NY Jets, Defensive Coordinator
Jeff Ulbrich, New York Jets, Getty Images

The New York Jets’ defense is setting records with its ineptitude

The New York Jets’ defense continues to make the wrong kind of history.

On Sunday, New York got bullied at home by the Buffalo Bills by a score of 45-17.

For the first time in 25 years, the Jets have allowed 31 or more points in four straight games. The last time the team had done it was in 1996, when the Jets finished the season 1-15 and head coach Rich Kotite was fired at the end of the season.

Like this season’s Jets team, the 1996 squad had some talent. Up front, the defense featured defensive end Hugh Douglas and aging defensive tackle Marvin Washington. On the back end were linebacker Marvin Jones, linebacker Mo Lewis, cornerback Aaron Glenn and stud safety Victor Green (who led the NFL in combined and solo tackles in ’96).

With a young secondary and a shallow linebacking core, the 2021 season was always going to be an uphill battle for head coach Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. But surprisingly, to start the season, the defense actually looked decent.

Despite losing defensive end Carl Lawson, defensive end Vinny Curry, safety Lamarcus Joyner, and linebacker Jarrad Davis, the Jets allowed no more than 27 points in a game through the first five weeks. The defensive line was getting to the quarterback, C.J. Mosley looked like his old self, and the inexperienced secondary was playing lights out.

The Jets were allowing 24.2 points per game entering the bye week. That isn’t great, but it was an acceptable result considering the injury circumstances.

Since the Week 6 bye, everything has come crumbling down. New York rounded out October by allowing 54 points to New England and 31 to Cincinnati, needing Mike White’s heroics to bail them out against the Bengals. Following the big win over Cincy, the Jets went on to allow 45 points to Indianapolis and 45 to Buffalo.

As bad as that last record sounds (31 points in 4 straight games), this next one is far worse.

For the first time in franchise history, the Jets have allowed 45 or more points in three out of four games.

We are only nine games into the 2021 season, but the Jets’ total of three contests in which they allowed 45 or more points already ties them for the second-worst single-season mark in franchise history behind only the 1986 and 1963 Jets, who each had four in full seasons.

Injuries have hurt the 2021 Jets, but even so, the defense has simply not been playing as well as it should be. With recently extended defensive end John Franklin-Myers alongside Quinnen Williams, Foley Fatukasi, and Sheldon Rankins, the front end has been unexpectedly poor. On top of that, C.J. Mosley has regressed and the safeties have been atrocious.

Over the past four games, the Jets have allowed 588 rushing yards. They are dead last in the NFL in points allowed per game (32.9) as well as in yards allowed per game (417.1). Both marks are on pace to be the worst in Jets history.

The coaching staff cannot go without blame, as Saleh and Ulbrich have not made enough adjustments. Despite the unit’s lack of experienced talent, they refuse to make the necessary changes. For opposing offenses, the Jets’ defense has become predictable.

As things stand after Week 10, the offense is not the Jets’ preeminent problem anymore – the defense is.

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