Jets defense puts together performance it had been expecting
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — David Harris and the New York Jets’ defense watched the film of their stingy performance last week against the Baltimore Ravens and liked what they saw.
Thumbs up all around — and it had been a long time coming.
“It was probably our best game of the year,” Harris said Thursday. “We got turnovers, limited them in running the ball and had a good day all around. We didn’t give up any touchdowns, so that’s a huge plus for us.”
In New York’s 24-16 victory last Sunday , the Ravens managed just 245 overall yards while the Jets put consistent pressure on quarterback Joe Flacco.
Baltimore ended up with just 11 yards rushing, a franchise-record low for New York. It initially had been 6 yards, but a scoring change during the week gave Leonard Williams a sack and slightly increased the Ravens’ rush total.
In the three games leading up to last Sunday, Terrance West rushed for 295 yards, the fourth-best mark in the NFL during that span. He finished with 10 on eight carries against the Jets.
“Yeah, that’s tough to do in this league,” Harris said. “Any time you can make a team one-dimensional like that, you can pretty much tell the guys up front to pin their ears back and go after the quarterback and try to make him uncomfortable back there, and I think we did that.”
It was the type of defensive dominance the Jets have been expecting all season, more befitting of a Todd Bowles unit than the inconsistent bunch that had marked most of New York’s first six games.
“I thought that we did some really good things,” defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers said. “You kind of look at a few things that happened that hadn’t been happening for us, guys getting their hands on the ball, we disrupted the quarterback a little bit. It was kind of the way we wanted to play.”
Entering the game against Baltimore, the Jets were ranked 23rd in total defense, 28th in passing defense and sixth against the run.
Those rankings improved a bit heading into this week’s matchup with the 0-7 Browns. New York is 16th in total defense, while it’s 27th against the pass and second versus the run.
“It was nothing special,” Bowles said, downplaying the performance. “I just think everybody did their jobs. Everybody did their jobs, we came together and we made some plays.”
The defense had just four takeaways through six games but got interceptions by Buster Skrine and Marcus Gilchrist on consecutive possessions in the third quarter. The Jets turned the first of those turnovers into a field goal.
“It was great, definitely great,” cornerback Darrelle Revis said. “That’s what we definitely want to do. We did a lot of that last year and we had a slow start this year. Now, we are starting to pick it up a little bit more and once you get a feel, they come in bunches.
“So, I’m sure you’ll start seeing more guys making more plays on the ball.”
The Browns are tied for 16th in total offense, putting them right in the middle of the pack. But they’ve allowed 21 sacks, which is topped by just two other teams.
Which quarterback they’ll be trying to take down remains to be seen. Josh McCown was medically cleared to play after breaking his left collarbone in the second game of the season. Cody Kessler, who started last week, is in the NFL’s head injury protocol after being hurt last Sunday in Tennessee, and Kevin Hogan finished up in his place.
“With their current situation, it forces us to prepare for all of them,” Rodgers said. “We played against McCown last year and then we watched a lot of tape on Cody. He’s doing some good things with them, and Hogan comes in last week and then they played (Terrelle) Pryor against Miami. We have to prepare for it all.”
The Jets could have defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson back after he missed last week with soreness in his foot, a remnant of the broken leg he suffered in the finale last season. He had been playing through soreness in the tendon by the ankle but is hoping to be back on the field Sunday.
That would be a big boost for a defensive line that already includes Williams, Sheldon Richardson and Steve McLendon. Regardless of whether Wilkerson plays this weekend, the defense already has something to build on after its performance against the Ravens.
“Hopefully it does carry over and gives the guys a little more confidence going into this week, and hopefully we can put another week like that together,” Harris said. “Confidence is a real thing, especially in a sport like this where it’s the ultimate team game. Confidence goes a long way.”
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