Through 10 weeks, the New York Jets‘ anemic offense has been the talk of the town in New York. Between Zach Wilson and Mike White (who’s likely returning to the bench after a horrible showing against the Buffalo Bills), the Jets are still searching for a quarterback capable of orchestrating a productive offense.
The Jets rank 23rd in total yards and 29th in expected points contributed by the offense. They’ve unquestionably fielded one of the worst offenses in the NFL this season.
With that said, it’s not like the Jets had a particularly formidable offense on paper heading into 2021. Their offensive line still needs improving, their WR and RB rooms are filled with inexperience, and the before-mentioned Wilson is still working through the growing pains of being an NFL starter. However, flip over to the defensive side of the ball, and it’s an entirely different story.
The Jets have the worst defense in the NFL
Despite the intense focus on Wilson, White, and the Jets’ poor offense, their defense has been far more disappointing.
They rank second-worst in the NFL in total yards allowed (despite only playing nine games) and dead last in expected points contributed by the defense. Following their absolute bloodbath against the Bills (they allowed 45 points), one could reasonably argue the Jets have the worst defense in the entire NFL.
Like the offense, the Jets’ defense isn’t loaded with superstar talent. However, they specifically hired a defensive-minded coach this past offseason to fix this side of the ball. Having the worst unit in the league halfway through the year is a problem the Jets can’t ignore.
Robert Saleh deserves blame
Hiring a defensive-minded head coach is a risky endeavor. With how the NFL is evolving, most teams target elite, up-and-coming play-callers when hiring head coaches. Teams are always looking for the next Sean McVay, someone who can draw up 30-plus-point performances with ease while helping the team’s quarterback develop.
Despite their plans to draft Wilson No. 2 overall (someone who needs developing), the Jets jumped at the opportunity to hire Saleh away from the San Francisco 49ers this past offseason. They envisioned Saleh — a former defensive coordinator — coming in and completely transforming their defense.
Seeing as the Jets have the worst defense in the league entering Week 11, it’s safe to say such an occurrence did not take place. Saleh’s personnel usage and defensive play-calling have disappointed at every turn.
What next for the Jets?
There’s still time for Saleh to turn his defense around, and it’s worth acknowledging he lost a few key starters to injury this season. However, the pressure is definitely on the first-year head coach to prove he can run a defense.
If Saleh can’t get this side of the ball right, one must wonder why New York would keep him around at all? It’s not like he’s having a positive impact on Wilson’s development.
Calling Saleh a one-and-done candidate is a stretch. However, there should be internal pressure on him moving forward. Having the last-ranked defense as a defensive-minded head coach is firable material in the NFL.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference.