Jets short on sacks, but aren’t about to panic
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The number is stunningly glaring because it’s a big zero.
No sacks for Muhammad Wilkerson.
None for Leonard Williams, either.
For two of the biggest playmakers on New York’s defense to have not taken down a quarterback in six games is nearly as big a surprise as the Jets’ 3-3 record.
“It’s a long season,” Wilkerson said after practice Wednesday. “You can ask any defensive guy: Sacks come in bunches. So it’s Week 6, Week 7, there’s no need to panic about sacks. Last I heard about this league, it’s about winning and that’s what we’re trying to do here.”
The Jets have won three games despite ranking second-to-last in the NFL with seven sacks. None have come from a defensive lineman.
Only the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have fewer sacks than the Jets, with six.
“There are a lot of things that we have to get better at that are unacceptable to me, but winning games is the biggest thing to me,” coach Todd Bowles said. “The other stuff comes with it. Sometimes you can get sacks and win games. Sometimes you can get sacks and lose games. It doesn’t bother me. If we can win ballgames, we’re fine.”
Linebacker David Bass, who was signed less than a month ago, leads the way with two. Fellow linebacker Demario Davis has 1 1/2, followed by safety Jamal Adams, cornerback Buster Skrine and linebacker Darron Lee with one each. Linebacker Josh Martin has a half-sack.
“We can do better,” Bowles said of the lack of sacks. “The timing has to be right. They (have to) get a good rush. He has to hold the ball a little more, and it comes. It’ll take care of itself.”
Williams had seven sacks last season, his second in the NFL, and made the Pro Bowl. He has said his goal was to average a sack a game. Well, he’s got a lot of ground to make up over the last 10 games.
Williams said one factor for he and the D-line not getting sacks is their inability to consistently stop the run and making opponents one-dimensional. The Jets’ run defense is ranked 28th in the NFL, allowing 138.8 yards per game on the ground.
“Overall, I don’t want to make excuses,” said Williams, who has a team-leading seven quarterback hurries. “I definitely think we have to get more pressure and more hits and sacks on the quarterback.”
Wilkerson has 41 sacks since entering the league as a first-round pick out of Temple in 2011. He has dealt with injuries the past few years, and currently has a sprained shoulder and an ailing foot. Wilkerson has also refused to make excuses for the lack of production, but he has only one quarterback hurry this season.
Add in the fact that Wilkerson signed a five-year, $86 million contract last year, and the Jets aren’t exactly seeing a return on their investment.
“They’re playing hard,” Bowles said while defending both Wilkerson and Williams. “They’re playing well and they’re doing everything we’re asking them to do. I’m not disappointed in those two at all.”
But is he OK with the fact his two best pass rushers have zero sacks?
“Nobody is playing great when you’re 3-3,” Bowles said. “You’re playing average football. It has nothing to do with Mo or Leonard. It has to do with our entire team. I’m not going to sit here and make excuses about two guys when we have 11 guys on each side of the ball.
“So if you want to nitpick, go for it.”
Bowles then turned testy when he was asked specifically why he’s not displeased with his two big stars.
“I’ve made my comment guys,” Bowles said. “Take it or leave it.”