Something is missing on the Jets’ defense. Make that someone.
The Jets sorely miss Jamal Adams. This was expected because he was the best player on the team the past two years. He was their emotional leader, their best playmaker. It’s hard to replace that. But through the first two games, the Jets’ defense has been dreadful and uninspiring.
Gregg Williams’ unit hasn’t shown up. The only reason the defense isn’t ripped more is because Adam Gase’s offense has been worse. The head coach is a lightning rod for criticism — and rightfully so.
The Jets haven’t tackled well, made nearly enough plays or shown discipline. They haven’t played with passion, fire or pride. These are all things Adams provided, and now he’s bringing it in Seattle.
Adams forced his way out. The Jets got a nice haul in return: two first-round picks, a No. 3 and safety Bradley McDougald. Those assets will help them in the future, but they won’t make plays now.
Williams’ schemes, multiple fronts and exotic blitzes were supposed to be able to keep offenses off balance and compensate for losing Adams and linebacker C.J. Mosley, who opted out because of concerns over COVID-19. It sounded good, but it hasn’t been good.
The Jets have allowed opposing offenses to get into the red zone 11 times — the most in the league.
"Not up to par. Not what we preach," safety Marcus Maye said about the defense. "We’ve just got to continue to work with each other, 11 guys doing their job."
Maye has replaced Adams as the Jets’ line-up-everywhere and do-it-all safety. Maye had a big game in Week 1 in Buffalo, but veteran 49ers tight end Jordan Reed beat him for touchdowns twice on Sunday.
But this isn’t on Maye. It’s on the entire defense, starting with the coordinator, Williams. The Jets’ defense has not come out ready to play in either game.
The Bills moved into Jets territory on their first five drives, and four times they were in the red zone. San Francisco running back Raheem Mostert ran 80 yards untouched for a touchdown on the first play from scrimmage Sunday. The 49ers scored TDs on three of their four first-half series.
The Jets trailed 21-3 at the half in both games.
"The one thing we talked about was making sure we didn’t give up explosive plays in the run game," Gase said. "We didn’t do that. We gave up two huge plays. The first play of the game and the third-and-31. We’ve got to make sure that we do whatever we can to get that guy down."
The third-and-31 play was a pitch from backup quarterback Nick Mullens to third-string running back Jerick McKinnon. He cut back and went 55 yards.
"We had too many guys on the ground on that play," Gase said. "We have to be ready for them to cut back the way they did."
That had to be brought up in defensive meetings leading up to the game, right? The 49ers didn’t have All-Pro tight end George Kittle or their top receiver, Deebo Samuel. They were going to run the ball with Mostert, McKinnon and Tevin Coleman. Yet the Jets couldn’t stop it. San Francisco ran for 182 yards.
Just for context, the Jets let only one team run for more than 130 yards last year — the Baltimore Ravens with MVP Lamar Jackson. Adams didn’t play in that game. Overall, the Jets were the No. 2 run defense in 2019. They have the eighth-worst run defense through two games in 2020
Here are some other numbers to illustrate how bad this defense has been: They’ve allowed a 51.9% conversion rate on third down (fifth worst). They’ve been called for four roughing-the-passer penalties and have amassed the fifth-most penalty yards on defense. The Jets are 19th in total defense. They were seventh last year.
"The message from Gregg is to continue to trust everybody," Maye said. "We got to trust all 11 guys on the field doing their jobs. Once we do that, we’ll be fine. Once everybody’s on the same page, we know the type of defense we can be."
Until then, offenses are going to love facing the Jets.
Notes & quotes: The Jets signed wide receiver Josh Malone to the active roster and placed cornerback Arthur Maulet on IR. Maulet hurt his groin in Sunday’s loss. They also released linebacker Paul Worrilow from the practice squad.