Colin Kaepernick will try to get back to ‘moral victory’ form this Sunday, and he’s found a potential ally in the Jets’ secondary.
The Jets have gone downhill since a promising 2015 campaign had fans singing the praises of Todd Bowles. Their defense was clicking again thanks to the reunion of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, and a dominant front surrendered only 90.3 yards per game on the ground. Revis ended the year with 5 interceptions, and things were looking up on Broadway after the Jets finished 10-6.
One year later and the Jets are 3-9, Revis Island has been a welcome vacation destination for receivers across the league, and Cromartie is watching games at home on Sundays. In total, the Jets have only six interceptions as a team.
It’s not just that there’s been a decline against the pass, it’s that the decline has been massive. After finishing the 2015 season 9th against the pass, the Jets’ passing defense is currently last in the league and coming off an embarrassing loss to the Colts. Andrew Luck managed four touchdowns against the once lauded secondary, T.Y. Hilton ended the day with 146 yards, and Dwayne Allen had three touchdowns. Finding soft spots in coverage is one thing, but at times there was no coverage at all. Bowles is right - they got their asses kicked.
The issues are so glaring, Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson made news this week by calling the secondary out specifically, saying, “Maybe a little tighter coverage and we get those sacks.”
The 49ers have a terrible pass rush, but consider: San Francisco has the same number of sacks as the Jets this season, and they have Muhammad Wilkerson, Leonard Williams, and Sheldon Richardson. Facing a Colts offensive line that’s surrendered 39 sacks this season, the Jets only got to Luck once. Mo might have a point.
Don’t let Hilton’s stats from last week convince you Torrey Smith will play a big role in this game. It’s not impossible, but there’s just no reason to think Kap has the confidence to push the ball downfield after last week. A steady diet of short and intermediate throws to Kerley, Patton, and McDonald will get the best results. Those easy looks are perfect opportunities against the Jets, and if Kap takes advantage of them bigger shots could open up later.
Given the quarterback woes of the Jets and Kap’s likely venture into free agency in the offseason, the game will have no shortage of storylines to follow. The question is how much of a test this pass defense will offer. Kap set the bar lower than it’s ever been last week; let’s see if the hospitality of Revis Island helps him step over it.