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NY Jets’ defense must guard against two disadvantages vs. Giants

Darren Waller, New York Giants
Darren Waller, New York Giants, Getty Images

The New York Jets face familiar obstacles in their matchup with the New York Giants

It feels good for the New York Jets to be the kings of New York, right?

Not so fast.

The Jets are riding high off their upset win over the Eagles, especially after two weeks of savoring it. Still, it’s not as if they have played such lights-out football that they can afford to overlook any team. The Giants are undermanned in many areas of their roster, but they’ve played better in recent weeks.

The biggest issue for the Jets in this game is that the Giants’ offense is strong in a few areas where the Jets’ defense is particularly poor. They’re not just going to walk all over the Giants’ offense like some may expect. Here are the primary concerns for the Jets’ defense in this matchup.

Their tight end is their biggest weapon

The Giants brought in Darren Waller to be their No. 1 weapon in the passing game. Waller got off to a bit of a slow start but had his best game as a Giant last week, hauling in seven catches for 98 yards and a score. Waller’s 379 receiving yards stand as the third-most among tight ends, and his 1.57 yards per route run ranks eighth out of 33 qualified tight ends (min. 15 targets).

The Jets’ defense, as usual, is struggling against tight ends. They rank 28th with a 63.8% success rate allowed on those targets. Their EPA per target allowed isn’t as bad (18th), but that’s because they’ve picked off four passes intended for tight ends. Nevertheless, they are also 32nd with five touchdown passes allowed to the position in only six games.

The main culprit for the Jets’ poor coverage in this area is Jordan Whitehead. Among 75 defenders with at least 40 cover snaps against tight ends, Whitehead has given up the third-most yardage (104), the fifth-most yards per target (14.9), the most touchdowns (3), the fifth-highest open percentage (85.7%), and the sixth-worst EPA per target (1.03).

The other Jets defenders who have at least 40 cover snaps against tight ends are C.J. Mosley and Quincy Williams. Williams is 11th in allowing just 3.3 yards per target and 10th with -0.67 EPA per target. Mosley ranks 37th in yards per target (5.9) and 19th in EPA per target (-0.31). Still, of the three, only Williams is above average in coverage success rate, ranking 25th; Mosley and Whitehead are 42nd and 43rd, respectively.

Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed haven’t fared too well against tight ends, either. They’ve allowed a combined 9-for-9 targets to be caught for 71 yards and an 11.1% coverage success rate.

Waller can be a chain-mover and game-wrecker for the Giants. The Jets’ defense will need to figure out how to contain him.

Their quarterback(s) can run

The Jets are giving up the most rushing yards per game to opposing quarterbacks at 35.8. They rank 31st in yards allowed, 25th in success rate, 28th in EPA per rush allowed, and 27th in yards per attempt on quarterback runs.

It appears that Tyrod Taylor will start a third consecutive game for the Giants with Daniel Jones still not cleared for contact due to a neck injury. Taylor has vastly outplayed Jones in his two-game stint so far. Although he’s not the runner that he once was or that Jones is, Taylor can still make things happen with his legs. He has 10 rush attempts for 53 yards (excluding kneel-downs) with a 50% success rate over his last two games.

Although the Jets don’t need to spy Taylor the way they did Jalen Hurts, their edge rushers and underneath defenders do need to be aware of the possibility.

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Robert Papalia
7 months ago

Team that tackles and blocks the best will win the game. I am old school.

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