Moeller: Jets’ Defense Faces Mettle Test

It’s gut-check time.

For the past two weeks, the Jets’ defense has responded in a way that was reflective of the anticipated dominant unit.

They didn’t have flawless efforts and did make their share of mistakes, but the D-Unit made timely plays when needed the most.

More importantly, they have notched five interceptions, four sacks and 12 quarterback hits over their past three games.

Against Indianapolis last week, they picked off Andrew Luck three times, but the quarterback also victimized them for four touchdown passes and he was the victim of a series of drops.

Prior to that, the unit has the luxury of Isaiah Crowell’s record day, but they were plundered late by Denver’s Case Keenum, who managed 344 passing yards.

Two performances that were better than adequate and still left some questions. Still, they have begun to develop a sense of consistency.

Leonard Williams has been surfacing as the one-man wrecking crew he can be.

Now comes the character test.

The Minnesota Vikings (3-2-1) will be at Met Life Sunday afternoon, a team that has been a bit of an enigma with plenty of firepower.

Quarterback Brad Cousins is off to a blistering start, and he leads the seventh-ranked passing offense with four deadly weapons at his disposal: receivers Adam Thielen (58 catches,712 yards, 4TDs) and Stefon Diggs (40-435 3TDs), tight end in Kyle Rudolph (27-266 2TDs) along with Laquon Treadwell (19-180 11TDs).

To call this a challenge is an understatement. So far, this is the most explosive offense the Jets will have faced.

Cornerbacks Trumaine Johnson and Buster Skrine are out, and rookie Parry Nickerson and veterans Darryl Roberts and Doug Middleton likely will see action alongside Morris Claiborne. Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye should be at the safety spots. Nickerson and Roberts had some rough moments against the Colts.

Even though Dalvin Cook will be out of the lineup, the Vikings’ running game shouldn’t be taken lightly. Latvius Murray rushed for 155 yards in their victory over Arizona last week.

According to Pro Football Focus, Adams was tied for most defensive spots (16) at this position, and linebacker Darron Lee led all linebackers in interceptions (3) and was third in pass coverage rating (72).

For the record, the Jets are ranked 23rd overall, 17th against the run and 22nd against the pass.

Lee, who continues to emerge as a leader, believes his team can overcome their errors.

“I’d say just communication and fundamentals,” said Lee. “Just some technical things, just some stuff that we have to clean up and we will. It’s all part of the plan for us having consistency as a defense and as a team, we have to pay attention to the details.”

If they do, the Jets’ defense will take another step toward dominance.

About the Author

Jeff Moeller

Jeff Moeller has been covering the NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL and college football and basketball as well as high school sports on a national and local scene for the past 39 years. He has been a Jets and Giants beat reporter for the past 13 years.

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