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Which Red Zone 'D' Will Show Up in Buffalo?

Posted Nov 19, 2014

Jets Struggled vs. Bills & Chiefs, Then Posted a Near-Shutout of Steelers Before the Bye

Of course there are many keys to surviving in the white zone surrounding Buffalo, NY, this weekend. And one of those keys for the Jets will be thriving on defense in the red zone against the Bills.

"You've just got to understand the importance of red zone defense," Demario Davis, one of the contributors to the Jets' D, told me after practice today. "It's emphasized every week, and it really just comes down to communicating and to winning 1-on-1 battles."

Are we in fact picking up momentum in the red zone? Consider:

■ The Bills, Sunday's opponents (the weather gods willing), came into MetLife Stadium on Oct. 26 and did some fine red zone work against our defense with four touchdowns — Kyle Orton scoring passes to Robert Woods, Lee Smith and Scott Chandler plus Frank Summers' TD run — and two field goals in six opportunities.

Add the Chiefs' three red zone TDs the next week to the Bills' four, and the seven RZ scores hadn't been surpassed by back-to-back opponents since Games 3-4 in the 2008 season. We were close to red zone rock bottom.

■ Yet after Kansas City came Pittsburgh. And our red zone defense also arrived, cooling off the hot Steelers with no TDs and one field goal in three trips inside our 20. That included our first no-points stop of the season on Jaiquawn Jarrett's first of two interceptions, then later Shaun Suisham's 1-for-2 field goal kicking.

That computed to one point for each of the Steelers' three red zone chances. The last time the Jets yielded 1.0 points on three or more red zone chances in a game was the Sunday after Sept. 11, 2001, when we went to New England, knocked Drew Bledsoe out of the game, and edged the Patriots, 10-3. The last time we had a better average was in 1992 in the  6-3 overtime loss at Indianapolis, with the Colts held to 0.8 points on three points in four RZ trips.

"It was a good week," Davis said of the Steelers conquest. "We just have to be able to carry it forward. The thing we knew going into that game was they were extremely hot, but they had had struggles in the red zone just like us, so it was just understanding that they're not in till they're in."

Damon Harrison, another contributor to our RZD, said that sometimes no matter what you do, red zone excellence can be fickle.

"Offensive coordinators, they study just as much as Rex Ryan does," said Harrison, "so they're going to try to scheme up some things to beat what we do. Either they call the right play or they call the wrong play. Last week we didn't do anything different scheme-wise. Guys just actually took the coaching, they did exactly what Rex told them to do. If you do what your coach tells you to do, one of the best defensive minds in football, you have games like Jaiquawn did and like No. 22 [rookie CB Marcus Williams] did."

So what's ahead in the zone at Buffalo? If we plan on scoring our first road win of the season, we'd better bring the red zone "D" that doesn't play as if wearing snowshoes. 

"They have good weapons. We know who they like to try to get the ball to down there," Davis said. "The more we communicate and the more confidence we have in our 1-on-1 matchups, the better we'll do."



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