GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Jets defense is a multi-million dollar Whack-A-Mole game.
No matter how hard the unit tries, weaknesses just keep popping up.
The Jets entered Monday night’s contest against the Cardinals with the best rushing defense in the NFL. But in a game they absolutely needed to win to keep their sinking season alive, the Jets let Arizona running back David Johnson gash them for 111 yards on the ground and three rushing touchdowns in a devastating 28-3 loss.
The Jets (1-5) had surrendered just one rushing touchdown this season entering Monday.
“We come here and give up 100-and-something yards. That’s embarrassing,” defensive lineman Steve McLendon told the Daily News. “That’s just straight embarrassing.”
All season long, it’s been the Jets secondary surrendering the big plays. Gang Green had allowed a passing play of 42 yards in each of its first five games, including 42-yarders for touchdowns in four of those five games.
But on Monday night, the Jets defensive front switched roles with the defensive backs. On the Cardinals’ second drive of the night, Johnson took a handoff to the left side, burst through a hole and weaved around several Jets defenders before exploding down the sideline for a 58-yard touchdown run.
It was a sign of things to come for Arizona, which totaled 171 yards on the ground. Johnson became the first player to rush for 100 or more yards against the Jets since Week 15 of last season, when the Jets let Cowboys running back Darren McFadden rush for exactly 100.
The 171 rushing yards Monday night are the most the Jets have allowed since Week 17 of 2014.
“They just made more plays than we did. That was the biggest thing,” McLendon said. “They had a little more effort, a little more energy. Guys was in places to make the plays. They just wanted it more than we did.”
Sheldon Richardson pointed out that the Jets were without run-stuffing linebacker David Harris, whose 121-game consecutive starts streak ended Monday because of a hamstring injury.
“That was out first 100-yard rusher in some years, bro,” Richardson said. “So yeah, he was missed.”
Richardson, normally a defensive lineman and outside linebacker, was forced to play inside linebacker in place of Harris, especially after rookie Darron Lee went down with an ankle.
“I make plays. That’s it. That’s the thought process behind it,” Richardson said of the coaches’ decision to play him at inside linebacker. “Put me in position to make plays, and they did that.”
The Jets entered Monday night surrendering an average of 68.4 rushing yards per game. They held the Steelers’ one-two punch of Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams to just 61 rushing yards.
In the desert, though, that vaunted ground defense was nowhere to be found.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News