This time around, the defense didn’t rest. Instead, the Jets’ defense did what everyone expected.
It was a passionate, swirling gang-tackling effort from the start that harassed Miami quarterback Jay Cutler and silenced the Dolphins’ running game, a complete reversal from their first two games in which they gave up more than 400 total yards and more than 170 yards rushing in each game.
Against Miami, it wasn’t happening.
The Jets stacked eight men in the box against Cutler in the opening half, daring him to throw and applying pressure from their entire unit. They shuffled in a number of players especially in the secondary as Darryl Roberts and Terrence Brooks both excelled throughout the game. Brooks finished the day with two interceptions, one on a botched punt on fourth down.
The Jets also received a constant push up front from Muhammed Wilkerson and Leonard Williams, both of whom were hard to find in the first two games, along with Kony Ealy. With the onslaught, Miami was an abysmal 1-for-12 on third-down efficiency.
As a result, the Jets held Dolphins’ running back Jay Ajay’s afternoon to 16 yards and allowed a mere 30 yards on the ground.
Miami managed just 49 total yards in the opening half (10 less counting Jamal Adams’ sack) compared to New York’s 221. With the Jets substituting in the second half, Miami managed to outgained the Jets, but they couldn’t gain any momentum. New York finished with three sacks, one by recently signed linebacker David Bass, who made a good first impression.
The lone blemish was not pitching a shutout as Miami scored on the game’s final play in the 20-6 victory. It would have been their first whitewash of an opponent since Oct. 25. 2009 when they blanked Oakland, 38-0.
Still, it certainly felt like one.
“We played hard and we played with a lot of passion,” said head coach Todd Bowles. “Everybody was where they were supposed to be. We came to play and got after it.”
Bowles noted the play of rookie safety Jamal Adams, who continues to emerge as a leader and was all over the field.
“He’s an exciting player,” added Bowles. “He brings a lot of emotion and plays with it. You could see that out there today.”
Linebacker Demario Davis, who led the team with 12 stops and was seemingly in on many more, said the team took the cue from the locker room. A revved crowd for their home opener proved to be a 12th man.
“The coaches gave us the plan and we just came out and executed,” he said. “We came out and didn’t make mistakes. We showed what we are capable of. It was great playing in front of our fans and it did help.”
Cornerback Morris Claiborne celebrated the win, but he remained cautious. The Jets will welcome Jacksonville, coming off a 44-point performance against Baltimore, into Met Life next Sunday.
“We just have to take one game at a time,” he said. “The fan support was crazy today. This was a total team effort and the pressure the D-Line applied made it easier for us.”
Now, it is just a matter of keeping with expectations.