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Jets Defense Needs to Extend Its Miami Stone Wall

Posted Dec 6, 2013

The metrics, as we might say in the Website productivity business, were not good for the Miami game.

But one metric was off-the-charts outstanding against the Dolphins and should've perhaps had a greater impact on our performance, and that was our defense when the 'Fins lined up on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1.

"I think it says a lot," LB Quinton Coples said of the fact that we stopped Miami on five crunch-down-and-short situations last week. "In a crucial situation, to be able to stop someone on fourth-and-1, it's a big deal."

"We feel like it's really hard to run the ball on us, period, not just short-yardage," added DT Leger Douzable. "In those situations we're real comfortable."

How comfortable were they. Here's a quick review of our successes in preventing the longest yard from being gained:

Opening drive, third-and-1 at the Jets 43 —Lamar Miller takes the handoff from Ryan Tannehill and is swarmed by Coples, David Harris and even CB Dee Milliner for no gain.

Opening drive, fourth-and-1 at the 43 — Coach Joe Philbin thought this was a good time to take a shot in plus territory. The defense thought differently. "Going for it on fourth-and-1 there — that's disrespectful to us," said Coples. "We take pride in doing our job." And they did it again, as Tannehill's longball for Brian Hartline was batted away by Milliner.

Second quarter, third-and-goal at the 1-foot line — Charles Clay, Miami's hybrid TE/FB, tried to find a crease up the middle. What he found was a brick wall led by Douzable and Harris. He lost a foot

Second quarter, fourth-and-goal at the 2-foot line — Tannehill tries a fade to Clay, covered by Demario Davis. He can't drop it into the basket and the Jets hold.

Fourth quarter, third-and-1 at the Miami 48 — The 'Fins' only one-yard success as Miller finds 5 yards up the middle.

Fourth quarter, third-and-goal at the 1 — Later that drive, it's Miller off left tackle for the TD. But Harris and Dawan Landry lead the charge, drop the tailback for no gain, and the visitors settle for a final FG.

"It starts with great preparation," DT Sheldon Richardson explained. DL coach Karl Dunbar, he said, "gets us 110 percent ready for every snap so we should know what's coming, what we should expect in certain situations. As for the goal line stand, man, Mo [Wilkerson] yelled, 'This is where you be great.' Buckle down, man. We just weren't going to be denied."

Why am I going on about these plays? Because five stops with a yard to go is the best in a game by a Jets defense since the 1970 merger. There had been several games with four stops in these situations, but never five or more.

"I think it's a big momentum swing when we're able to do stuff like that," Douzable said. "They get the ball first-and-goal at the 4, they have four shots and they don't get it, that's a blow to them that can change momentum for our team, not just our defense but our offense and special teams, too."

Doubters can say, of course, where did all this great short-yardage defense get us in the 23-3 loss Sunday? What did the goal line stand in Cincinnati slow down in that 49-9 defeat? Certainly valid points.

But on the flip side of that question, the Bengals goal line stand arguably kept us in that game through the first half of the second quarter before the doors fell off. The first four stops vs. Miami kept that game scoreless. And who can deny that the goal line stand at the end of the first half at Atlanta was a key component of the Week 5 stunning of the Falcons?

Yet Richardson agreed that the stone wall bounce maybe hasn't been there since Atlanta and needs to return in a hurry for the Raiders on Sunday and the three games after that.

"The offense has been struggling, and we've been struggling a little bit, too. We had a long first series," he said of the Dolphins' opening drive. "We've just got to put it together. It's gut-checking time right now. We just need to come with it, no more excuses."

Here is a summary of the five times we've stopped opponents 4 times on third-/fourth-and-1, with key defenders mentioned below each game:

THE LONGEST YARD(S)
Game Opp Made   Att   Stops
2013, Game 12 vs MIA 1 6 5
Quinton Coples, David Harris, Dee Milliner, Leger Douzable, Dawan Landry
1997, Game 9 vs BAL 2 6 4
Marvin Jones, Victor Green, Ernie Logan, Mo Lewis
2008, Game 10 @ NE 4 8 4
Kris Jenkins, C.J. Mosley, Ty Law
2010, AFC Wild Card Game @ IND 2 6 4
Brodney Pool, David Harris

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