PHOENIX — No amount of creative number crunching can change the daunting odds facing the Jets entering Monday night’s road test against the Cardinals. The math simply is not on their side.
There’s a six percent chance that the 1-4 Jets will snap their five-year postseason drought. History has been unkind to teams that dig such a cavernous hole out of the gate. History screams that the unofficial end is near.
“You can take those percentages and shove ’em,” defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson told the Daily News. “Because I honestly I don’t give a damn. If we win our division, it doesn’t really matter. That’s it.”
Richardson’s defiance is wrapped in annoyance and dissatisfaction after his team — and his defensive line — sputtered out of the gate. Although Todd Bowles and defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers have praised what was expected to be the anchor of this team, there’s little denying that the star-studded line must elevate its play for the Jets to have any realistic chance of reversing course.
“I’m not pissed. Frustrated though,” Richardson said. “I’m trying to wrap my head around how we’re not pulling them out. But I’ve been in worse situations. I was on a 4-12 team (in 2014). This feels nothing like that. We still got a shot. People want to count us out now. Whatever it is they want to do, they can.”
Conventional wisdom suggests that the 4-1 Patriots will win the AFC East for unofficially the millionth year in a row. Richardson figuratively extends his middle finger to conventional wisdom.
“I don’t give a damn what people got,” Richardson said. “I don’t believe in predicting the future… I’ve always had this attitude: Fearlessness mixed in with a little optimism. I’m never going to call my season over in Week 6. I’m never going to do that.”
Bowles’ defensive line hasn’t been an abject failure. The Jets are second in the NFL in run defense (68.4 yards per game) and yards per rush allowed (3.0), but their big boys aren’t creating much of a pass rush since their seven-sack eruption in the season opener against the Bengals.
Leonard Williams, who is tied for fifth in the league in sacks (five), has been the lone difference maker. Muhammad Wilkerson (1.5 sacks) and Richardson (0.5 sack) are much too talented to have the stats that they do at the moment.
“We just got to do a whole lot better as far as pass rush,” Richardson said. “But if (people) want to base if a guy’s good or not on whether he’s getting to the quarterback, then I guess two of our stars are not good then.”
Richardson has half-a-sack on the season.
(Al Bello/Getty Images)
Richardson and Wilkerson have proven to be game changers in their careers, but it’s no secret that each needs to deliver better results in a hurry before the season is lost. Opponents have mitigated the Jets pass rush with quick, short throws. Ben Roethlisberger gauged the Jets with the deep ball before killing them with quick, underneath passes to Le’Veon Bell last week.
“It’s frustrating,” said Richardson, who has been used as an outside linebacker at times. “But when they do it often and they’re getting a lot of yardage off it and keeping us on the field, it gets guys out of their rhythm as far as rushing the passer. If they keep doing it and it keeps working, guys start overcompensating. Like if you hurt yourself. If you hurt your knee or something, you start overcompensating with your other leg, you overwork your other leg and everything falls apart…. Guys are trying to do a little bit extra. I’m one of them too, but we ain’t doing what we’re supposed to do: Rushing the quarterback.”
The Jets have managed only five sacks in the four games since their Week 1 sack-a-palooza, but that is only one part of the problem. Bowles’ secondary hasn’t been getting embarrassed on a weekly basis. The Jets offense has the unenviable distinction of having the lowest passer rating (64.7). Their defense has the unenviable distinction of allowing the highest passer rating (118.7).
“I feel like everybody is still buying in,” Williams said of the low sack totals since the opener. “Everybody still wants to do great. But the numbers are dropping and I don’t know what to point out.”
A year after the Jets finished third in takeaways (30), they have the second fewest (four) through five weeks. Bowles & Co. were tops in red-zone defense last season. Now, they’re 15th. They were third in third-down defense last season. Now, they’re 13th. Who would have believed that a Bowles defense would be 30th against the pass, allowing 303 yards per game?
The Cardinals’ deep passing game could spell doom if the Jets defensive line hasn’t figured out what has plagued them in the past month.
“We have new stuff going in this week to get after (the quarterback) a lot more,” Williams said. “We changed a few things up.”
It better work or the math will get uglier.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News