You probably clicked this article to yell at me, saying the New York Jets are winless an actually bad. And, of course, you’d be right.
The Jets have been awful through their first four games of the 2019 season. They’ve been blown out just about every week, including a 31-6 butt-whooping at the hands of the Eagles last Sunday. But while the Jets have been nearly a complete disaster this year, their defense has actually been pretty solid.
Especially considering the circumstances their offense has put them in.
Ranking 10th overall in defensive DVOA, the New York Jets’ efficiency numbers show they’ve been good against both the run and the pass this year. The Jets rank 13th in pass defense DVOA and 11th in rush defense DVOA, and despite the blow-out scores they haven’t allowed too many offensive points either.
Many of the opposing scores have come due to fumbles and interceptions, especially with franchise quarterback Sam Darnold out.
Upfront, the Jets defensive line is littered with former draft crushes of Cowboys Twitter. Quinnen Williams is a bonafide stud of course, and players like Leonard Williams and Jordan Willis possess a plethora of talent as well.
Still, despite the strong DVOA ranks, this defensive line ranks 29th in adjusted sack rate. Part of this is due to always playing behind, rather than in pass rushing situations, but their sack rate is still alarming for Jets fans.
The Jets’ biggest defensive problem comes with their cornerbacks, however. While their talented safety group is led by one of the league’s best in Jamal Adams, their cornerback group has gotten roughed up all season. Trumaine Johnson has been a disaster this year, and guys like Darryl Roberts and Brian Poole haven’t been great either.
Dallas’ best course of action on offense this week will be to look to move the ball through the air. New York is 3rd in adjusted line yards, meaning they’ve been pretty strong against the ground game this season.
As most teams tend to do, I’d expect the Jets to be highly conscious of Ezekiel Elliott and the Cowboys run game early on. Instead of trying to feed Zeke early and often on the road, the Cowboys need to go after these cornerbacks with Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.
Despite the national media continually questioning whether or not Dak Prescott is “the guy,” he is almost certainly primed to have a massive day in New Jersey. As long as Kellen Moore calls the game the way the numbers say he should, of course.
By DVOA, this Jets defense is sneakily one of the best in the league. But there’s no question that there are areas where the Cowboys can exploit this unit on Sunday.