Jets’ valiant effort on defense goes to waste again, cracks begin to show after 13-8 loss

Jets defense under pressure again
Dec 3, 2023; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Tyler Allgeier (25) is tackled by New York Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams (95) and linebacker C.J. Mosley (57) and defensive end John Franklin-Myers (91) and defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson (70) during the fourth quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
© Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

EAST RUTHERFORD — Holding opponents to under 20 points in the modern NFL is an incredible accomplishment. For the New York Jets defense, the hard part is that those performances haven’t been translating to wins. 

Gang Green’s 13-8 loss to the Atlanta Falcons Sunday afternoon was another example of a valiant effort from the Jets defense going to waste disappointingly. 

“We’re searching,” Jets head coach Robert Saleh said afterward. “I felt like there was a lot of missed opportunity with possible explosives, potential touchdowns on the field today. We’ve got to find a way to take advantage when we have those opportunities.”

Sunday afternoon was the sixth straight game where the offense failed to record over 14 points in a single game. It also was the third time in the last five games where they failed to score a touchdown. More importantly, it moves New York to just 3-3 on the year when they hold their opponent to 20 points or fewer – a staggering number when you look at other teams across the league.

Despite the concern of potentially having a rift in the locker room open up due to the issues along the offense that have not been fixed, Saleh and the coaching staff have maintained that everyone is together going into December. 

“They won’t stop,” Saleh explained. “Our defense is built the right way. They are not going to stop.”

East Rutherford, NJ — December 3, 2023 — Jets head coach Robert Sales holds the helmet for Perrion Winfrey after Winfrey was injured in the second half. The Atlanta Falcons topped the NY Jets 13-8 at MetLife Stadium on December 3, 2023, in East Rutherford, NJ.© Chris Pedota, NorthJersey.com / USA TODAY NETWORK

Even though Saleh has maintained a level of control in the Jets locker room, the cracks have begun to show even with some of their top leaders. 

“The truth is we have the quarterback position right now,” C.J. Mosley stated. “The offense is struggling, the defense is just trying to maintain, special teams trying to do the same. It’s no secret. That’s just the card we were dealt this year.”

Mosley’s comments were the first example of a member of the Jets defense to openly acknowledge that the offense’s struggles have impacted the 2023 season. 

It also wasn’t the only one on the defense. 

“You turn the tape on, you’re going to see a dominant defense, play in and play out,” John Franklin-Myers explained. “Obviously wasn’t dominant enough. We put up the points we did, and we didn’t win the game. So, we could say we’re worried about offense, or other team defense, but that defense helped them get points. We want to do better.”

It’s hard to blame the defense for the type of season the Jets have gone through this year. It’s the third straight year of the Saleha era where Gang Green has gone through four different quarterbacks in a regular season. Adding in the plethora of injuries sustained along the offensive line, it’s easy to understand why New York’s offense is where they are right now. 

It does though add to the increasing amount of pressure already on New York’s vaunted defense which has had to play historically amazing to stay a the game. With that, the mindset of the group has also changed.

“I definitely thought we played great defensively,” D.J. Reed said. “Obviously, we got to get the ball. We didn’t have any turnovers, so that’s definitely an emphasis.”

The cracks have begun to show in a frustrated defense for New York. How the team responds in the coming weeks will not only tell the story of the 2023 unit but also could lend a hand in determining the future of both Saleh and the Jets front office. 

If the defensive unit stays together, it will continue to be a feather in the coaching staff’s cap. If not, it very well may be a sign that changes are coming in the offseason. 

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