Jets Defense Tightening the Screws
At Dallas, the Jets defense allowed 30 points, tied for the most the group allowed since the start of last season (Week 2 at Cleveland). After two games, the unit ranks No. 21 overall and No. 15 in points allowed per game.
Last season, the Jets ranked No. 18 and No. 25 after two weeks in those categories and the defense found its form shortly thereafter. In Weeks 3-18, defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich's group ranked top-five in total yards allowed per game (No. 4), passing yards (No. 4), third-down conversion (No. 5) and points per game (No.2).
In two games last season against the Patriots, the Jets totaled 12 sacks and held New England's offense to a touchdown and 6 field goals.
Sunday's matchup features one of the NFL's most-efficient units in the red zone – the Patriots offense and the Jets defense.
New England's 71.4% in the red zone is tied the fourth-best mark in the league through two games while the Jets rank No. 7 in red-zone defense at 37.5%. The Green & White finished No. 4 in the NFL in red-zone defense last season, allowing opponents to score touchdowns on 47.8% of the time. Last season against the Patriots, the Jets held quarterback Mac Jones & Co. to 1 of 5 over two games.
"We always say give us a blade of grass and we'll protect it," head coach Robert Saleh said. "That's kind of the mindset. Especially in the second half, there were some short fields with the takeaways and all that stuff, but I thought the defense played its tail off all the way until the end. Obviously we gave up the two touchdowns, one of them I think was undeserving, but it is what it is. We fought. The players fought. A testament to the red-zone defense to be able to stand up and keep them out of the end zone and hold them to field goals. If there's one thing we know about our guys in this locker room, it's a resilient bunch and they'll continue to fight into the end."
Despite the emotional rollercoaster since the start of the regular season, the Jets have a chance to be 2-0 within the conference and the division with a victory on Sunday. The Jets haven't beaten the Patriots in 14 games and while they may not look like the same team as a couple years ago with Tom Brady, Saleh believes they're an underrated group.
"They play a very patient style of football," Saleh said. "You look from an offensive standpoint, everyone is trying to talk about their demise, but they've played two of the better defenses in football and they had 82 plays against Philadelphia and 75 against Miami, so they're possessing the ball, moving the ball. Albeit it may not look explosive, but they're moving the football. They play clean.
"Defensively, they have one the top units in football. Very underrated unit. Philadelphia is an explosive offense and they held them down. Same thing with Miami. It's a much better football team than people give it credit for and it's going to be a challenge Sunday."