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Jets linemen have no defense for Todd Bowles’ criticism

Jets head coach Todd Bowles looks on before a

Jets head coach Todd Bowles looks on before a game against Bills on Sept. 10, 2017 in Orchard Park, New York. Credit: Getty Images / Tom Szczerbowski

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Jets coach Todd Bowles isn’t one to reveal his emotions at a news conference. The information presented comes out like crumbs.

But apparently Bowles gave his defensive unit, specifically the linemen, plenty of information as he called them out in a meeting this week.

In the Week 1 loss to the Bills, the Jets defense allowed 190 rushing yards led by LeSean McCoy’s 110 individual yards on 22 carries. McCoy gained 45 total yards on runs up the middle.

After watching the tape, Bowles had enough.

“We didn’t stop the run,” Bowles said after Wednesday’s practice. “So the coaches and players alike — me included with everything else — we didn’t play well.”

How did the players take being called out?

“Myself, our room, we take a lot of pressure,” said lineman Muhammad Wilkerson, who was credited with just one tackle. “Coach even called us out. We take pride in ourselves, our work and accept the challenge. We’d definitely accepted the challenge and know we got to play better this week.”

Oh yeah, that challenge: Marshawn Lynch and the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.

In Lynch’s first game, after his year-long sabbatical, he rushed for 76 yards on 18 carries in the victory over the Titans. Bowles said Lynch performed as if he never left the game.

“He looks better than ever,” Bowles said. “He actually looks quicker. Laterally, he looks just as good as he always has.”

That’s bad news for the Jets because they couldn’t contain a shifty runner in McCoy and now take on a north-south physically demanding runner in Lynch.

“You got to have pride in this game and pride with your position, which you do,” defensive end Kony Ealy said. “You got to have pride with the attitude to win and we didn’t get it all the way done. We played half of the game instead of the whole 60 minutes. I understand what [Bowles] was saying. The responsibility is on us, we’re the first one sent in and do our jobs and get the ball back for our offense and potentially score for the defense and we didn’t do that. We had opportunities to do that and we left plays out there. He expected more. Where I think we’re a top defensive line in the NFL, nothing to go against what he said, we just got to take what he said work hard and do the little things.”

One of the issues for the Jets’ front was a lack of gap control. Some of this is attributed to McCoy’s ability make quick, hard cuts in the middle of a run. If a lineman isn’t disciplined to control his gap or set the edge, problems will arise.

Bowles pointed out fundamentals are needed to control an opponent’s running game and the Jets linemen responded well, at least in the meeting room and during Wednesday’s practice.

“We’re men, I feel like as a man you definitely want to accept that challenge,” Wilkerson said. “But we know what we have to do this week and accept the challenge from coach.”

Containing Lynch isn’t easy because, he too, can be shifty while laying hard hits on would be tacklers. And knowing this ,Bowles said the Jets shouldn’t change their approach.

“It’s not much of a change schematically,” he said. “You still have to be gap conscious, in your gaps as far as running the defense, but a great back is a great back. [LeSean] is great in a different way, and then you have Marshawn, great in a different way. You have to prepare for them all the same. They’re good backs and they are going to be tough every week, so we just have to get ready.”

If the Jets are not ready, then another calling out will occur.

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