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A Tale of Two Defensive Halves vs. the Jags

Posted Aug 18, 2013

Last week, head coach Rex Ryan said he liked the way that the first-team defense stepped up and challenged the Lions’ offense.

Saturday night, his excitement for the defensive "ones" turned to confusion and disappointment.

“Our defensive intensity in the first half I thought was not to Jets standards,” the fifth-year head coach said.

“I don’t understand it," said Ryan, noting the unit’s missed tackles as one of the key issues. “Clearly, our focus has been good in practice and things like that. It just seemed like, for whatever reason, it wasn’t there.”

First Half: "Horrible" Tackling

The defense allowed 231 yards in the first half — 59 on the ground and 172 through the air. Nine different Jacksonville receivers caught a pass in the first two quarters of play.

Veteran LB Calvin Pace said he wasn’t prepared for the Jaguars’ up-tempo offense, but he gave no excuses.

“As a professional, you’ve got to be ready at all times,” the 11th-year LB said. “Our tackling was horrible.”

CB Antonio Cromartie knows that the team’s struggling to deal with the fast-paced offense in Saturday night’s preseason game is really a blessing in disguise.

“We were kind of glad we got a look at it,” the two-time Pro Bowl corner said. “It had us on our toes a little bit. You know it's preparing us for when we play New England with the hurryup offense.”

Ryan was not pleased with the play of his first-round rookie in the secondary, Dee Milliner.

“When we call on him, I want him to get up there,” Rex said. “Let’s go. Let’s play.”

“It’s the second preseason game for him,” Cro said of Dee, “and we expect more from him than we saw tonight. That’s something that he needs to learn from and he has to come out with a great attitude and get ready for the next week when we get ready to play guys like Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz.”

Second Half: "Outstanding" Intensity

The starters did end on a positive note, though. They came out onto the field to start the third quarter and forced their only three-and-out of the game, and that stop set the tone for the backups in the second half.

Despite a plethora of not-so-goods from the first-half defense, Ryan called the second group’s intensity “outstanding.”

“I loved the way we came out in the second half with the twos and that temperament that we carried onto the field,” Rex said. “They certainly were ready to play and they did a tremendous job.”

Down 13-10 at halftime, the twos and threes pitched a shutout in the third and fourth quarters and perhaps lit a spark in the offense as well, as the Green & White outscored the Jaguars 27-0 in the second half.

In fact, the Jets defense actually outscored the Jaguars offense in the second half as CB Mike Edwards recovered a fumble for a touchdown, falling on a high snap into the end zone with 2:44 left on the clock, capping our 37-13 victory.

“Coach Ryan basically challenged us to come out with a better intensity,” CB Darrin Walls said. “I think all the younger guys used that as motivation and took that as an opportunity to capitalize on.”

Walls had back-to-back plays, on second and third down, on which the Jaguars decided to throw to his guy. Both times he got his hands on the ball and forced incompletions.

“I got there so quick that I wasn’t expecting the ball to be in my hands,” Walls said of the first play. “It kind of surprised me a little bit.”

Leger Douzable was playing left end on a play when Jacksonville QB Chad Henne tried to hook up with WR Denard Robinson on a throw to the right sideline. Douzable wasn’t having any of that, as he stuck out his big left mitt and knocked the ball down.

“My mindset when I hit the ball was to try to bounce it up and catch it,” he said, “but it came off my hands too hot.”

While Douzable and Walls were unable to come away with turnovers, LB Danny Lansanah had the team’s lone interception on the night.

“Danny played a hell of a game,” Douzable said.

“We had fire zone pressure,” Lansanah said of the play that led to his interception of Henne, “and I’m taught to drop and replace the pressure, and that’s what I did. Just sit back and read the quarterback’s eyes, and he threw it and I caught it.”

The linebacker wasn’t too surprised he caught the ball, saying interceptions are “kind of like my specialty.”

While Lansanah had the team’s lone pick, fellow LB Ricky Sapp accounted for the Green & White’s only sack in the game, calling it a “blessing” just to get an opportunity to make a play.

“We came out here together,” Sapp said of the second-team D, “and had an attitude that we weren’t going to get scored on.”

And they weren't.

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