FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Jeff Ulbrich said the Jets addressed some of their defensive problems and he is confident that they will be far better this week.
They’re playing the Steelers, who are not an explosive offensive unit. If the Jets’ defense falters in this game it won’t reflect well on Robert Saleh and Ulbrich, the defensive coordinator.
Ulbrich said the coaches and players have put in extra work to fix their issues and simplified things somewhat in hopes of preventing the same breakdowns that have been torturing them the first three weeks.
“We are tireless right now from a working standpoint, players and coaches,” Ulbrich said. “We’ve addressed some things. We’ve definitely identified some things that we can improve and we’ve shone a light on this week. This Sunday, I’m excited for us to demonstrate all this work.”
The Jets’ defensive issues have been multiple. They’re allowing teams to convert on 51.3% of their third downs. They have allowed seven touchdowns on third down and they continue to give up explosive plays.
Ulbrich said he’s still getting to know the players’ strengths and weaknesses. He referenced Bill Belichick, who has said he doesn’t know what his team is until midseason. Ulbrich needs to figure it out quickly because the Jets’ season could be over by then.
The Jets’ defensive struggles have led to some frustration on and off the field.
In last Sunday’s loss to the Bengals, tackle Quinnen Williams and defensive line coach Aaron Whitecotton got into a heated argument and needed to be separated by players.
After the game, cornerback D.J. Reed said all the miscommunications and the play of the defense overall were “unacceptable.” Reed said the players and coaches should meet to hash things out and figure out how they should play.
“They are not OK with this and we’re not OK with this as a coaching staff,” Ulbrich said. “We’re both putting in every single imaginable resource to get it right and get it better. I really believe it’s going to come to fruition this week.”
Ulbrich said the Williams-Whitecotton dust-up and Reed’s strong comments all came from a good place. They care, and that gives Ulbrich confidence that things will right itself in time.
“I’ve been around a lot of places where there’s frustration and a lack of success and there was a lack of caring and a lack of wanting to get it right,” Ulbrich said. “Things didn’t change because of that. I think because of the makeup that we have within this defense that we will get it right.”