New York Jets: Defense has stood out through two preseason games

James Burgess, New York Jets (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images)
James Burgess, New York Jets (Photo by Todd Kirkland/Getty Images) /

New York Jets head into another preseason battle this Saturday against the New Orleans Saints. It’s essential to look back at the first two games against the New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons.

While most of the talk surrounding the Jets has been about the impressive play of quarterback Sam Darnold and the anticipation of Le’Veon Bell returning to the field, one of the most underrated aspects of the Jets’ first two contests was the dominant play of the defense, mainly the first unit. The defense has held its own against the opponents’ starters, with the backups contributing big plays against opposing second and third-stringers. Here’s a look at some of the best defensive moments so far.

Starters Stop Eli

Eli Manning helmed the initial Giants drive of the first preseason game, but the defense forced a punt in just three plays. Manning completed only one pass for 3 yards, and the offense looked mismatched against a swarming Jets defense. While Giants rookie Daniel Jones had a good drive, this was mainly against the Jets’ backups.

Giving up 31 points doesn’t look good. But when the unstoppable play of the Jets’ first-team defense is taken into account, it’s not as bad as it seems. Another aspect to consider is that starting defenders C.J. Mosley, Leonard Williams and Trumaine Johnson were all inactive, so the defense should be even scarier when the regular season begins.

Gang Green Shuts Down Matt Ryan

The Jets faced a daunting task when they went up against the Atlanta Falcons and last season’s 9th ranked scoring offense, but the starters again came to play. Matt Ryan played up until there was just 2:20 remaining in the 1st half, yet the Falcons had only scored 3 points.

New defensive coordinator Gregg Williams used a series of different blitzes to keep Ryan on his heels, and it worked tremendously, as the former league MVP was sacked three times and couldn’t score a touchdown on any of his four drives. Jamal Adams played tremendously in his limited action, finishing with four solo tackles and a sack.

This year’s 3rd overall pick Quinnen Williams had a much better week after a quiet first game against the Giants. Although he didn’t record any tackles in his limited time on the field, he was dominating in the trenches, and it clearly affected the entire Falcons starting offense.

Backups Beat Up Atlanta

After the Jets stopped the opposing starters on their final drive of the game before being taken out, the Falcons backups scored a quick touchdown before halftime to take the lead going into the break, 10-6. However, New York’s second and third stringers put on a defensive spectacle in the second half, allowing just 135 yards and 0 points for the rest of the game.

The Jets’ backups capitalized on every opportunity given to them, forcing three turnovers and picking up two more sacks in the second half. When New York led 16-10 with 1:34 remaining in the 4th quarter, third-string linebacker James Burgess picked off Falcons quarterback Matt Simms and returned it for a touchdown, essentially ending the game.

Avery Williamson

Williamson had been playing amazing in his first action of the preseason, recording four tackles and a sack against the Falcons. However, he suffered an injury which was later revealed to be a torn ACL, meaning that he will miss the entire 2019 season.

After leading the team with 120 tackles last year, it’s going to be tough to replace Williamson’s production. Free agency addition C.J. Mosley will certainly help, as he recorded 105 tackles last season with the Baltimore Ravens despite playing in 15 games.

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While this is a large blow to the New York Jets, their defense has still shown to be extremely deadly and will hopefully wreak havoc on opposing offenses throughout this upcoming season.