By Ryan Alfieri, Editor
Throughout the Rex Ryan era, if there is one thing the Jets have been able to hang their hat on, it would be their run defense. However, the Jets find themselves ranked 31st in run defense, only outdone by the Saints in yards allowed on the ground.
With Darrelle Revis out, it was assumed that the pass defense was take a fall, but the 49ers were able to have more success than any other team this year, going for over 200 yards in the 34-0 rout.
Where did this team go so wrong to get so bad at an area that was assumed to be a strength?
Sione Pouha is Not the Same
After watching the game, it was apparent that Sione Pouha was not playing like the dominant nose tackle the Jets saw last year. He was move around the pocket with ease, often by single blocks.
Sione spent most of training camp on a stationary bike and off the practice field, and he did not practice on Wednesday. Perhaps the coaches are seeing the same thing we are and decided that it would be best to give him all of the time he needs to get healthy and back to his dominant self.
Neither is David Harris
One of the most disappointing players this year has been David Harris, who has been missing an inordinate amount of tackles this season. When watching him, it is not a lack of effort but just misjudgments on plays that get him in trouble. This is very uncharacteristic of Harris, who is regarded as one of the smartest players on the team with great play recognition skills.
Slimmer Mike DeVito
Last year, Mike DeVito was one of the league’s best-kept secrets as a run defender. He cam into this year slimmer in hopes of being a more effective all-around player, perhaps a reactionary move to the drafting of Quinton Coples, but it could have impacted his ability as a run-stopper, which is what the Jets need him to be.
DeVito has not been bad, but a smaller version of himself make it more difficult for him to penetrate and blow up cutback lanes that have killed the Jets this season.
But wait…Revis plays in the secondary? He’s a good tackler and all, but why does he have that big of an impact on the run D?
The truth is, run fits and gaps are partly dictated by what alignment the secondary is in. Without Revis, the Jets are not able to play as aggressively against the run, thus hampering the run game.
The run defense was suspect even with Revis in the game, but their epic failure against the 49ers was at least in part due to Revis’ absence.
In the end, the Jets need to do a better job with the basics of run defense. Getting off blocks, staying in containment, and making sound tackles have been huge issues for a team that has once been dominant in this area. Even with watered-down personnel, and team should be able to manage decent run defense if they play proper technique.