In the beginning of the season, the Achilles' heel for the defense was its susceptibility to big passing plays. The secondary tightened up since Week 5, only surrendering two plays of over 40 yards prior to Saturday's 34-13 loss to the Dolphins. In the late stages of the first half, WR Kenny Stills found separation from rookie CB Juston Burris for a 52-yard score. Defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers marvels at the opportunity to use this as a teaching point for the 23-year-old, who made his first NFL start against Miami.
"A lot of times we work to what the corner feels more comfortable with," Rodgers said. "Burris for instance, we were in a cover zero. Usually we like to be off in that situation because we expect the ball to come out quickly, but he's a better press guy. So he was kind of in between whether to be on or off. It's a good thing to fix for him."
One thing about Bryce Petty is certain: He's one tough cookie physically. This week, his mental toughness will be tested as the second-year QB is gearing up for a Christmas Eve showdown against the Patriots in Foxborough, MA. Offensive coordinator Chan Gailey stressed the importance of Petty's film study, but also anticipates New England to show some new formations. Additionally, Gailey tagged them as the "smartest" defense the Jets will face this season.
"They have a lot of people that can interchange to other places," he said. "They play a lot of different positions. You might find [Dont'a] Hightower at one spot one play and another spot the next play. That creates a challenge when you can have guys that can move around and come from different spots and move around to different spots."
The Jets have dealt with a number of injuries on both sides of the ball over the course of the season, but special teams may have been impacted the most. ST coordinator Brant Boyer said 2016 has been his most challenging year in coaching because he's been plugging new players in his system each week.
"It's tough," Boyer said. "I'm not going to lie to you, but that's part of the profession. Guys that are in the building, on the practice squad, that were here in the spring and came back have been in the system. They've practiced the system. Guys that just got here two days ago, you show them what to do and you try to bring them along. You try to do it slowly and at the end of the day you don't know if they can get it done in the first week or two. You try to do the best you can to prepare them and get them ready."