The Jets’ defense did have some inexcusable moments Sunday afternoon in the team’s 35-27 loss to the Panthers.
There was Jordan Jenkins jumping offside on a crucial fourth-down play that gave the Panthers a first down and eventual touchdown.
The Jets were also caught with 12 men on the field during the same drive after calling a timeout.
Mike Pennel, who was clog in the middle all afternoon and even returned to the game after being flattened on his back, was flagged for a roughing the passer penalty on a fourth down with just over two minutes to play, putting a severe dent in the Jets’ hope to either tie or win the game.
Consequently, though, the unit did have its share of highlights. They remain the glue that has been holding tight as the bottom easily can fall out in a five losses in six games tailspin.
The Jets’ D held the Panthers to 21 of their 35 points and rattled Cam Newton throughout the game, sacking him three times and hitting him eight. Newton never got into any kind of rhythm as he completed only 11 of 28 attempts for 154 yards.
Overall, Carolina, which rolled up 548 yards against the Dolphins last week, was held to 299 overall yards against Gang Green.
Their lone glaring blemish was failing to control wide receiver Devin Funchess, who caught seven of his 12 targeted passes for 108. Even though he was held out of the end zone, Funchess made enough big plays and was a problem for cornerback Darry Roberts all afternoon.
Christian McCaffrey also made some key plays for the Panthers, just getting underneath coverage to make the most of his seven receptions.
Don’t point all the fingers at the Jets’ defense in another late-game collapse.
Linebackers Demario Davis and Darron Lee did a nice job in the middle. Cornerback Buster Skrine, who has struggled most of the year, had an overall solid 60 minutes.
Like the remainder of the team, though, the defense hasn’t had enough four—quarter performances, notably late in the game as happened Sunday. They are, however, ahead of the development of the offense.
“I think our coaches did a job putting in a good game plan,” noted Davis, who led the team with 10 tackles. “We knew what they were wanting to do and we just tried to execute as best as possible. At the same time, you’ve got to give them credit, they made plays when they needed to make them, enough to get a win. So we just got to keep working.”
They will and will get better. The Jets’ defense will need to keep teams in the 20-or-less point range over the next five weeks to keep the season respectable, playoff run or not. Statistically, they rank 18th overall in the league, 15th against the pass and 25th against the run.
More importantly, though, they have been galvanized into a cohesive, tireless unit that can anchor this team for quite some time.