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Jets DC Jeff Ulbrich says 'it hurts' the way the defense is playing

Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich during training camp

Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich during training camp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center in Florham Park,NJ on Tuesday, August 3, 2021. Credit: Noah K. Murray

Jeff Ulbrich went from losing sleep over preparing for the Eagles’ quarterback – who didn’t even play – to feeling pain in his soul by how the Jets’ defense performed Sunday.

The Jets’ first-year defensive coordinator can paint some colorful pictures with his words, but he hasn’t been able to draw up a way to stop teams often enough this season. The Jets rank last in the NFL in points allowed (30.6) and total defense and had no answer for the Eagles’ offense in a 33-18 loss.

"It hurts," Ulbrich said. "I’m a prideful person and I put a lot into it. The players put everything they got into it as well. We don’t work our [expletives] off like we do to have the results that we’re having. So is it frustrating? Absolutely it’s frustrating. It hurts the soul."

Ulbrich was fired up leading up to the game against Philadelphia. The Jets had just come off their best defensive game of the season, albeit against the Texans. Houston is one of only three teams with a worse record than the 3-9 Jets.

Still, Ulbrich spoke about the Jets having the opportunity against the NFL’s No. 1 rushing offense to show the world they’re a better defense than they’ve been. He said, ‘We’re coming.’ The Jets never showed up.

They allowed Philadelphia to score on its first seven possessions. The Jets also didn’t prepare for quarterback Gardner Minshew, only Jalen Hurts, who missed the game with an ankle injury that limited him in practice all week.

They’re two very different quarterbacks. Hurts is a legitimate threat running the football. Minshew doesn’t run much. Ulbrich downplayed that, saying the Jets prepared for the Eagles’ system.

"Schematically, they didn’t really change what they did," Ulbrich said. "We self-scout. We see what we prepared for, how we practiced, the plays that we showed the players as opposed to what we got. It didn’t change. It was what we were ready for."

Yet, the Jets couldn’t stop Minshew (two touchdowns, no INTs), the run game (185 yards) or tight end Dallas Goedert (105 yards, two TD receptions).

The Jets’ defense has a chance this week to at least look functioning against the Saints, who have lost five straight and totaled 23 points in their last two.

The Jets probably should prepare to play both of New Orleans’ quarterbacks, though.

Taysom Hill played last week, but he injured his finger in their loss to Dallas. If Hill can’t play or is bothered by the mallet finger in the game, the Saints would turn to one-time Jet Trevor Siemian.

They’re two far different quarterbacks also. Hill is a legit threat running the football. The Saints undoubtedly will try and exploit the Jets’ holes in their run defense. New Orleans hopes to get All-Pro running back Alvin Kamara back from a knee injury that kept him out of the last four games.

But the Jets continue to say it’s more about them than who they are facing.

Linebacker Jarrad Davis said they have to go back to the basics and focus on what has been their "detriment" That list could be long. Lineman Foley Fatukasi said the Jets have "a lot" of things to fix. Ulbrich pointed out the 15 missed tackles against the Eagles. That will be a point of emphasis this week.

Ulbrich said the players and coaches are committed to cleaning up this mess.

"As hard as it’s gotten and as dark and as bleak as it’s felt at times there is still an all-in mentality," Ulbrich said. "Although the results are absolutely not good enough, we’re not playing winning defense yet. Amidst the darkness there are some subtle improvements here and there. There are small moments of progress that are showing, especially with the young players. So we keep trying to build upon that."

Roster moves

The Jets placed Corey Davis (core-muscle surgery) on injured reserve and released defensive back Jarrod Wilson. They signed running back Austin Walter to the active roster, signed kicker Matt Ammendola and wide receiver Tarik Black to the practice squad and released wide receiver Keelan Doss from the practice squad.

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