He was supposed to get that unit right and bring them to a similar level that took the San Francisco 49ers to a Super Bowl.
Although through the first eight games of the 2021 season for the Jets it has been all talk and no action.
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Words Are Just Words
You may have noticed during the Week 9 Thursday night broadcast between the Jets and the Indianapolis Colts, that NFL analyst Troy Aikman uttered a jarring comment during the game:
“Saleh told us that this current Jets defensive line is the best one he has ever been a part of.”
That raised several eyebrows among the fanbase and on social media, none bigger than that of Peter King of NBC Sports:
Saleh’s a good guy, with a chance to turn around a moribund franchise. But let’s examine that statement.
Jets are dead last in the NFL in team defense and points allowed per game. In 2019, Saleh was the defensive coordinator in San Francisco. The Niners’ defensive front, featuring Nick Bosa, Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, and Dee Ford, was doubtless the league’s best. The Jets have just surrendered 54, 31, and 45 points the last three outings, and the Colts called off the dogs with 20 minutes to go.
Maybe Saleh was referring to the character of his men when he referred to the “best defensive line room” he’s had. But I’m dubious of that. How are we to trust real praise from Saleh if he says that about the front of a defense that’s the worst in football?
After an amazing 7.0-sack performance that led to an upset win over the Tennessee Titans in Week 4, 27-24, the defensive line has fallen flat.
Over the last four games since that win vs the Titans, Gang Green as a team has 7.0 sacks combined.
It’s Time to Live Up to the Hype
Heading into the 2021 season, most agreed that the Jets’ defensive line was the deepest and most talented positional group on the team.
Yet despite that hype, they haven’t lived up to the billing so far this season.
Up next for Gang Green is a tough matchup against the division-leading Buffalo Bills. While they’re considered among the best teams in the AFC, they have a lot of faults.
One of their biggest weaknesses is their offensive line.
Their overall numbers in the sack-allowed department are very good (second-best in the league), but recently they have slipped up.
Last week Buffalo lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars 9-6 and allowed 4.0 sacks.
Offenses have adjusted to the Jets’ aggressive scheme upfront with screens and the short passing game. Although coach Saleh hasn’t had a counter-punch to that adjustment.
After an embarrassing loss to the Colts where they trailed at one point 42-10, this defense needs a major bounce-back performance. It’s time for this defensive line to prove that they’re the kings of the castle.
This is a golden opportunity for both teams. The Jets are hoping to take advantage of the trench warfare while the Bills are certainly licking their chops at some of the defensive lapses this season for the green and white.
In two of the last three weeks, the Jets have imploded defensively. They allowed 45 points, 532 yards of offense, and 28 first downs to the Colts. The New England Patriots also gave Gang Green the business with a 54 point beatdown, 551 yards of offensive firepower, and an astonishing 32 first downs.
The Bills are clearly a better team, but that doesn’t guarantee they’ll beat the Jets on Sunday. The “any given Sunday” mantra was never more true than in Week 9, and looking at the Jets wins this season, they have proven they can beat anyone but also that they can lose to anyone.