Even though he downplays it, Jets’ coach Todd Bowles couldn’t have been prouder of his team’s defensive performance against Detroit Monday night.
The unit was a wrecking crane against a Lions’ offense that presumably would present a challenge with Matthew Stafford and an upbeat running game.
But Gang Green picked off five – yes , count them – passes and chased and smashed Staff and later Matt Cassel all over the field. The Lions were limited to 39 yards rushing, but ironically, the Jets didn’t record any sacks.
Linebacker Darron Lee silenced some of his critics with a pair of interceptions – one for pick six.
It was a particularly impressive showing from the Jets’ secondary, both their starters and reserves who delivered their share of blows. Jamal Adams, Trumaine Johnson, and Buster Skrine looked crisp and on their game, helping alleviate the absence of Marcus Maye.
Overall, it was the kind of performance Bowles’ prize unit was supposed to deliver, even to the point of reading the Lions’ offensive signals.
Remember, until Sam Darnold, the Jets’ last seven top draft picks were defensive players. Under Bowles, the Jets drafted Leonard Williams, Lee, and Adams, all of whom are sturdy beams for the unit.
The Jets’ performance against the Lions was reminiscent of Bowles’ blitzkrieg methods of sending an all-out affront with the Cardinals.
With the offense getting a pass due to Darnold’s learning curve and adjustment to his receivers, the Jets’ defense easily can set the tone through the next two games.
Miami had a weather delayed win over a flat Tennessee team last week, and the thought of quarterback Ryan Tannehill and running back Frank Gore doesn’t scare anyone.
Cleveland follows them, and the Browns still look like they have trouble getting out of their own way, and they also faced a lukewarm Ben Roethlisberger.
So, the Jets defense has a great opportunity in front of them. Make some more plays and take some of the pressure off Darnold. Firmly establish yourself as a top five unit in the league and lift the team to a 3-0 mark and start the playoff talk.
Jets CEO Christopher Johnson addressed the media Wednesday and made it clear that the team now has a two-year window to become a legitimate contender…or ..a.k.a. – the playoffs.
They will have nearly 100 million to spend next season.
“Next year, we have the most money in free agency and there’s reason to believe that there are some interesting free agents coming out,’’ Johnson said. “It’ll be another chance for us to improve the team. Maybe [then] expectations should ramp up.’’
After the 2019 season, Bowles will have five years under his belt, and a postseason appearance looms as a priority.
Keeping the defense on a high octane path is a surefire path to get there. After all, Bowles was hired for his defensive prowess.
For the Jets and Bowles, the performance against the Lions should be a benchmark for the next several weeks and a hallmark for the unit over the next two years.