Reviewing the Jets’ last four games:
NE 24, NYJ 17 L
NYJ 28, Mia 31 L
Atl 25, NYJ 20 L
Buf 21, NYJ 34 W
The Jets were virtually competitive in every game looking at the final scores. All of their losses have been within a touchdown. Their win last week was quite convincing, it was a 24 – 7 Jets lead going into the fourth quarter.
That is the same Buffalo Bills team the Bucs lost to earlier in the season.
There is nothing that stands out as great for the Jets defense, but they still possess four wins in the season and, as aforementioned, their losses in the last four games have been within a touchdown. Is their defense underrated or are the teams they face lacking offensive power? It is the latter. Buffalo, Atlanta, and Miami are average to below average scoring offenses, respectively 16th, 17th, and 32nd.
The Jets might be happy to know the Bucs also come into the game as a below average offense. There is a new wrinkle, though. Journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick will be the starting quarterback for the Bucs this game. Will the Bucs’ passing game perform effectively under a new captain?
In a recent article I wrote, I passed along information from Football Outsiders, Pro Football Focus, and Pewter Report about the run blocking offensive line. It s non-existent due to the fact only two out of the five starting offensive linemen were very good at run blocking. Only one was very good at run blocking within the interior of the line. A Y-TE cannot help run block on the interior of the line, only outside the tackles on zone blocking schemes. There might not be enough time for the TE to pull in a man/power scheme to help the interior.
Now, Bucs fandom is right back to “Doug Martin Sucks” mode once again as opposed to realizing that you need at least a competent run blocking offensive line to generate holes and forward push. Many years ago, Bobby Rainey was the running back who fans thought was the better than Martin. After Bobby, Jacquizz Rodgers was that back that was better than Martin. Now, it may seem like another running back will be better in Peyton Barber.
The Bucs’ superstar receiver Mike Evans is suspended from playing in this game. Last year, that would have been a death knell to the passing offense. This year, the Bucs have WR DeSean Jackson, WR Chris Godwin, and TE OJ Howard. That is on top of improved targets in TE Cam Brate and WR Adam Humphries.
Godwin will probably get his first start of the season, playing all the reps that Evans would have been game planned for the game. It is a luxury to have that talent available to step onto the field and not lose too much quality. The Bucs have a ridiculous depth in their receiving department this year and for the next two years, provided Jackson remains with the team.
The defense is simply inconsistent. They still are being hit with injuries. That is the singular common problem for the defense this year – injuries. Safety Chris Conte, CB Vernon Hargreaves, DT Gerald McCoy, and LB Kendall Beckwith are the only projected pre-season starters that have played all eight games. VH3 and Beckwith have moved around positions as a starter. VH3 has played both outside and slot CB. Beckwith was the starting strong side LB, but due to Kwon Alexander’s injury, Beckwith started at middle LB as well.
With injuries comes a chemistry issue on execution as well as coaches trying to discover how to best utilize their personnel as injuries pile up. The coaches tried a 3-3-5 look because they have no pass rushers available. DE Jacquies Smith never returned to form from his season ending surgery last season. DE Noah Spence had his season ending with injury. At least they are trying to do something different, but it is still failing.
Are there any positives for the inconsistent defense?
The first half of the game was not a complete blowout. There were three long drives and one three-and-out. Of the three long drives, the defense was able to create a fumble as well as recover it. They were bending and not breaking too terribly in the first half.
Unfortunately, that inconsistent play resurfaced in the second half. The defense let the Saints rush game literally run over them.
I do not know what to expect from the defense besides inconsistent play.
So now we know why the Bucs do not have a more competent run game and are forced into throwing the rock more. Unless the run blocking group improves, we will probably throw more. This time around, we have a different passer. Will the Bucs have a different offensive output? That does not imply the overall outcome will change.