71° Good Evening
71° Good Evening

Muhammad Wilkerson looks to step up after tough Week 1

Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson before a game

Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson before a game against the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium on Dec. 5, 2016. Credit: Lee S. Weissman

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The Jets’ highest-paid player officially recorded just two tackles and had one pass breakup in the season-opening loss to the Bills.

Defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson’s performance last Sunday received criticism from coach Todd Bowles, who called out the defensive line this past week, and the media and fans expecting more from a player with a team-high base salary of $14.7 million.

“Just come in on Monday watch film do our corrections [and] we speak as a unit,” Wilkerson said of his performance. “We watch the film, everybody sees what they did wrong. Everybody on the back end knows what the D-line did wrong on a play everybody on the D-line knows what a DB might have done wrong. We hold each other accountable, that’s one thing we’re doing and we have to make sure we get this thing corrected this week.”

Sunday it’s the Raiders, a more talented team than the Bills. The Jets struggled to stop the run in Buffalo, allowing 190 rushing yards. That can’t happen on Sunday afternoon against the Raiders, who have a strong back of their own in Marshawn Lynch and a passing attack led by Derek Carr.

Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers said Wilkerson’s game wasn’t as bad as what it appeared to be.

“I looked at is as a whole,” Rodgers said. “I thought he did what we asked of him. We didn’t do enough defensively as a whole. I don’t think it was one guy. As a whole, we just didn’t do our job. I don’t highlight him.”

Yet the Jets are asking Wilkerson to do more than obtain a bunch of tackles. He needs to be disruptive on the line of scrimmage and maybe draw double-teams so other defenders can make plays. In the Bills game, Wilkerson wasn’t double-teamed often and still had a quiet game.

He needs to make some noise Sunday.

“It’s really how it played out,” Rodgers said of Wilkerson’s efforts in the Bills game. “I can’t say they ran at him and he did not make the play. It wasn’t that, it’s just the way it fell.”

New York Sports