One of our undeniable strengths in this early going has been the defense. And one of the strengths within that strength has been the defense's performance inside its own 20.
"I think in the red zone in particular, we’re much improved," head coach Rex Ryan said this week. "Obviously, a lot of games are won or lost there. It’s been an emphasis for us to improve in the red zone on defense and I think we’ve done that so far."
"The defense's job is to prevent points," LB
"It's all about the mindset, just tuning into your game plan, knowing your opponents and your assignments in that specific area," DE
We've been holding them to three for a while now. Tampa Bay scored both its touchdowns in the opener on first-half RZ opportunities. Since then, we've gone seven possessions without giving up a TD (six FGs and the late kneeldown drive at New England).
That doesn't sound like a long streak, but in the red zone world it's not far from an eternity. The last time our defense went 7-for-7 was in Games 5-7 in 1999. The last time we had a longer streak was 11-for-11 back in Games 6-8 in the '93 season.
And the last time we had a better first three games of red zone touchdown defense, the concept of the red zone had yet to be created. The 1972 Jets allowed only two TDs in 10 opponent drives inside their 20, back when the goalposts were on the goal line, not the end line.
Two caveats for Jets Nation: One, red zone domination comes and goes, and over a season the best defenses will allow about four touchdowns on every 10 drives.
And two, it's nice to stop the bad guys inside the 20, but you need to stop them from outside the 20, too.
"We gave up a touchdown on a blown coverage in the New England game, and when Buffalo scored their touchdown, it was on a blown coverage also," Ryan said. "I don’t know how many touchdowns we’ve given up, I think three this season.
"It seems like we’ve had one major breakdown per game. If we can eliminate it, we’ll be pretty good."
|JETS' BEST STARTS IN RED ZONE DEFENSE SINCE 1970|
|First 3 Games||First 4 Games|
Not practicing in team drills today were WR
"No, just the opposite. The kid was coming and so we’ll see. Hopefully this isn’t that big of an issue because he’s going like this," Ryan said, moving his hand in an upward direction like a Jet lifting off. "One thing we know about Dee: very competitive young man. Hopefully it won't be long with this injury."