Breaking down the Jets as Denver visits New York

Dec 10, 2017; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos inside linebacker Brandon Marshall (54) tackles New York Jets running back Elijah McGurie (25) in the first half at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Head coach Vance Joseph finds himself in a tricky position entering Week 5. Sitting at 2-2, a win over the Jets seems crucial to any playoff hopes the Broncos have. Without a playoff appearance or at least a late-season run, Vance Joseph is unlikely to keep his job, to say the least. If Denver loses this game, they’ll find themselves at 2-3 with games against the Rams and at the Chiefs on the horizon.

Todd Bowles, head coach of the Jets, finds himself in a similarly tricky situation. Coming off of back-to-back 5-11 seasons that saw the Jets finish in the cellar of the division, Bowles is desperate for wins. The three-game skid the Jets currently find themselves on is only making Bowles’ seat hotter. Unless he gets a win soon, Bowles may be out of the Big Apple by December.

Strengths

Rookie quarterback Sam Darnold is easily the most discussed Jet, but their greatest strength lies on the other side of the ball. The Jets boast one of the nastier up-and-coming defensive units in the league. Lead by star second-year safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye, their secondary is one of the toughest and hardest hitting groups in the league. The Jets Morris Claiborne and Buster Skrine help form one of the deeper, more well-rounded secondaries in the NFL.

The Jets’ front seven is led by 2015 first round pick Leonard Williams and 2016 first round pick Darron Lee. Williams is not only fantastic at stopping the run, he creates a mean interior pass rush that could give the Broncos fits. Lee struggled early on in his career but seems to be turning a corner this season. Lee appears to be one of the better coverage linebackers in the NFL now. In the season opener, Lee was able to intercept two Matthew Stafford passes, returning one of them for a score.

Denver’s run game has appeared high-octane all year, but could be in trouble against this stout Jets defense. The Jets are the seventh best team in the league in terms of depth of tackle, meaning they don’t allow runners to get to the second level often. The Jets are also top ten in tackles for loss or no gain and run stuffs. They don’t make many mistakes either, as they’ve missed just eight tackles against the run.

Weaknesses

The Jets defense is a nasty, gritty, tough group. Their offense can’t say the same. Darnold’s potential is clear, but he’s also among the more raw rookie quarterbacks who need some help, and he’s getting none.

The Jets’ supporting cast may be the worst of any team in the league. Deep threat Robby Anderson, their most talented receiver, has been made all but irrelevant in Jeremy Bates’ conservative offense, catching eight passes for 108 yards on the season. Quincy Enunwa and Terrelle Pryor have been more reliable for Darnold but are by no means elite weapons. The Jets’ tight ends are easily the bottom of the barrel in the league, lead by Eric Tomlinson and Jordan Leggett. It’s important for a rookie quarterback to have someone to lean on and Darnold has no one.

As bad as the weapons in the passing game are, the weakest link on offense may prove to be the Jets’ offensive line. Although they’ve been able to open holes for running backs Isaiah Crowell and Bilal Powell, their pass protection has left much to be desired. They rank 21st in Pro Football Focus’ pass blocking effiency and are allowing pressure on over a quarter of Darnold’s dropbacks. Bradley Chubb and Von Miller should give the Jets fits on Sunday.

The Broncos play the Jets on Sunday, Oct. 7th at 11 a.m. MDT.

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