AFC East

Todd Bowles has the Personnel to Make Jets Defense Great

The Jets already had a very good front 7. It was their secondary that held the defense back in 2014. Rex Ryan did a great job of putting lipstick on a pig, using scheme and design to cover for the back end of his defense. But it wasn’t enough to make them a great unit. Now, with Todd Bowles taking over as head coach, the Jets have added cornerbacks Darrelle Revis and Buster Skrine. They’ll likely add more defensive backs through free agency and the Draft. All of a sudden, the Jets look like they have the makings of a great defense.

Like Rex Ryan, Todd Bowles likes to be aggressive on defense. With the Cardinals, he loved to blitz and play man coverage behind it. In Arizona, the Cardinals played with a ton of dime personnel (6 defensive backs) to get more speed on the field. This enabled them to play man coverage and attack the quarterback with blitzes that hit home quickly. Bowles loved to use double and even triple-A gap blitzes with man coverage behind it. This created protection issues for the offense and provided immediate pressure in the quarterback’s face.

An example is below. Here, two defenders were aligned on either side of the center in both A-gaps. Both ended up blitzing. A third defender (defensive back) would blitz behind them.

Screen Shot Courtesy of NFL.com Gamepass

Screen Shot Courtesy of NFL.com Gamepass

The center went with the blitzer to his right. The back moved inside to take the 2nd A-gap blitzer. This left no one to take the 3rd blitzer.

Screen Shot Courtesy of NFL.com Gamepass

Screen Shot Courtesy of NFL.com Gamepass

Below, you can see that the first 2 A-gap blitzers had succeeded in creating a lane for the 3rd blitzer behind them.

Screen Shot Courtesy of NFL.com Gamepass

Screen Shot Courtesy of NFL.com Gamepass

The result was a free runner at the quarterback.

Screen Shot Courtesy of NFL.com Gamepass

Screen Shot Courtesy of NFL.com Gamepass

Here, quarterback Philip Rivers got hit as he threw an incomplete pass.

As the Cardinals Defensive Coordinator, Todd Bowles was masterful at creating pressure on the quarterback using blitzes like this. Executing them properly required a deep group of defensive backs, including both those who could get to the quarterback quickly and those who could play tight man coverage. In Arizona, Bowles had the cover corners to be effective (Patrick Peterson, Antonio Cromartie) as well as other versatile defensive backs who could cover well enough when asked and blitz effectively when called upon to do so.

In New York, it remains to be seen if Bowles will use his personnel in quite the same way considering he has a better front 7 than he did in Arizona. He might feel more comfortable blitzing with his linebackers than needing to bring in defensive backs to do so as often. After all, the Jets aren’t deep enough in the secondary to play dime as often as the Cardinals did…yet anyway.

But the Jets do now have arguably the best cornerback in the league in Darrelle Revis. Buster Skrine is also an upgrade over last year’s corners. The Jets should be able to play the high frequency of man coverage that Todd Bowles desires.

With With wide receiver Brandon Marshall and left guard James Carpenter coming to the Jets to help the offense, there is a lot of excitement around Gang Green. They’ve added very good talent to 3 position groups that needed it. The quarterback position is still the big mystery, though. The Jets have managed this position worse than any other team over the last 5 years. Will the new regime be any better?

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