It could be a Buffalo thing or it could be a Game 8 thing. Either way, defensive coordinator Bob Sutton sees progress being made.
"The players worked very hard the last couple of weeks," Sutton said at his biweekly informal news conference this afternoon. "We’re still a long way away from where we need to be. But they can see the progress and we can see the progress."
Of course, you can never discount a play from a game, so the late 85-yard J.P. Losman-to-Lee Evans touchdown pass that put Sunday’s Bills game out of reach goes on the defense’s log as well. But put that over on the side and the Jets allowed 262 yards on 61 plays for a very respectable 4.3 yards per play. And now counting that home run ball, for the second time in three games, the Green & White allowed just one TD.
It starts with playing the run. Rookie RB Marshawn Lynch told the CBS announcers at the pregame production meeting that he felt sure the Jets game would be his first 100-yard game as a pro. He was wrong. Lynch ran 21 times for 80 yards (after going 23-for-79 in Game 4 at Buffalo), and for the second time this season the Jets held the Bills to 3.1 yards a carry, their best averages this season.
"There are no quantum leaps," Sutton said. "It’s just the ability to keep improving the little things. From a coaching or individual player standpoint, it could be the most simple of things like hand placement or footwork. When those things are improving, you’d be surprised how quick you can fix these problems."
And the improved run play, rather than the fact that Buffalo was Game 8 this season just as Cleveland was Game 8 last season, may have had something to do with the pressure that the Jets successfully brought to bear on Trent Edwards and J.P. Losman.
"A lot of the things tie together," Sutton said. "Sometimes getting control of the run is an easier way to pressure. Once you get one area squared away, it’s much easier to call defenses. You can anticipate what’s going to happen to you. I think they did a good job with the pressures and execution."
Quarterback hits, as imperfectly as they are kept by stat crews around the NFL, have been up. After seven in the first four games, the Jets have 21 the last four, including a season-high-tying seven vs. the Bills. None of the pressures were more exciting than the "cloudburst" approach of having six players standing up and milling around before the snap and then rushing the pocket on a couple of occasions.
"Every week we draw up something we want to do," said LB David Bowens, who had the hit on Edwards the first time the blitz was unveiled, which produced Darrelle Revis’ first pro interception. "It’s fun. As a player, you can get lost in the monotony of being in a four-man or a three-man front."
Bowens still is having limited exposure in the defense, but he had his most productive burst as a Jet in a three-play span in the second-quarter, preceding his QB hit with a half-tackle on a 1-yard loss and then defending an Edwards pass with his elbow. He’s feeling it and he says his defensive mates are feeling it.
"We saw it. Call a spade a spade," he said. "We played a lot better for four quarters. We’ve had flashes of good defense but not consistently, over four quarters. I think we did that against Buffalo. Even on the touchdown, guys were in position."
Is this a mirage or real improvement. We’ll see Sunday. The Redskins certainly have dangerous performers on offense. They also have rankings very similar to the Bills. If not a quantum leap, the Jets need to continue to make strides if they’re to salvage important elements from this season that has started so unfortunately.
Here are some key offensive rankings of the Jets’ last opponent and their next opponent:
|Total Yards per Game||31st||28th|
|Total Yards per Play||31st||23rd|
|Rushing Yards per Game||20th||18th|
|Rushing Yards per Play||24th||25th|
|Passing Yards per Game||31st||25th|
|Passing Yards per Play||25th||15th|
Coles Listed as Doubtful
WR Laveranues Coles sat out his third practice this week today — or more accurately, he stood it out, watching in sweats. But he was not ruled out of Sunday’s game against Washington. His status in the injury report just released is doubtful, which officially means there’s at least a 75 percent chance he won’t play in the game. S Kerry Rhodes was added to the report today with a knee injury. He was limited at practice and is questionable for the game.
The Redskins’ report had several interesting additions today: LB Marcus Washington with a hamstring (limited, questionable), WR James Thrash also with a hammy (limited, probable) and RB Clinton Portis, who did not participate in today’s practice due to a coach’s decision. There is no further word on why coach Joe Gibbs held Portis out, and no listing of Portis’ status for the Jets.
Tags: Bob Sutton, David Bowens
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