This week's defensive breakdown is also going to be a bit shorter than usual and kick it positive. The overall premise here this week is that we have endured plenty of the negative this season and on Christmas week, let's focus on one thing that has us really pleased and satisfied moving forward into 2016.
Before we do that, of course, we should point out that this defense will have a few things on its epitaph if one is ready to actually hold them accountable and not to blame every single detail on Tony Romo's presence.
First, is the idea that they may or may get to 10 takeaways this year. Keep in mind, in the history of the NFL, the modern record for fewest takeaways in a season is 11 by the 2013 Houston Texans. So, the fact that they are within striking range of the all-time record seems pretty notable and extreme.
Then, of course, we have another 4th Quarter where the Cowboys give up more points and yards than they do in any other Quarter. It happened again and the team lost another game they were in a position to win. It is a matter of opinion as to what causes the 4th Quarter collapses, but when there is a pattern - it is both disconcerting and annoying.
Now, with that acknowledged, let's move on to something positive.
And that is that 2nd year defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is playing the best football of his young career. On this day, he registered 5.5 splash plays - see details below - and was a menace the entire game for the Jets to deal with. But, this is not about one game. He has been trending in this direction for 3 months now and leads the team in this category now. I did not expect that after September.
Here, he demonstrates unreal quickness to avoid his blocker, then navigate in a blur past the lead blocker and the pulling guard. Love a guy who can make people miss in close quarters.
2 plays later, on 4th and goal, they decide to run the other way, but try to get 90 on TE reach block. No chance. Lawrence shoots the gap in the blink of an eye and blows up another play. Beautiful.
Now, we know he is a force in the pass rush with his relentless motor. If he can blow up run plays, the whole value of his game will make all of the difference in the world, because we know he can do this. Cleaning up a sack when a QB tries to escape is his specialty.
They are focused on making sure he gets cut-blocked here. Nevertheless, he is playing too well to let that slow him down and he just jumps it and makes another TFL. This is most exciting. They have a lead DL man, it appears, and it isn't Greg Hardy.
WEEKLY DATA - Wk 15 - NY JETS
The numbers show again that the defense had a rather rough day in slowing down the Jets with 372 yards against and 299 in the air to Ryan Fitzpatrick. Basically, the Jets were guilty of some self-sabotage when it came to ending their drives as they cost themselves plenty of points via penalties and other mistakes.
Add to that the goal-line stand and the Jets fell way short of a point total that agreed with their overall offensive production and field position. They had 7 drives in Dallas territory and really didn't produce much at all to show for it.
RYAN FITZPATRICK THROW CHART
Honestly, I am not sure I have seen anyone since Drew Brees throw the ball all over the yard like Fitzpatrick did on Saturday night. Look at the blue all over the field and this was not dink and dunk, but rather some throws down each seam and out to the sidelines. He is really pretty impressive for a guy who has a reputation as a replacement level QB. The Jets have done very well for themselves this season at the QB spot with a veteran backup.
WEEK 15 - NY JETS - SPLASH PLAYS
Overall, there were many fine plays registered by the defense, including a stunning 8 different tackles for loss. But, in the end, partly because of the insane generosity of the QBs, they lose again.
SPLASH PLAYS - SEASON TOTALS
PASS RUSHERS VS JETS
Pretty interesting that they stopped blitzing again. Almost no real pressure on the Jets on Saturday night by sending additional rushers.
BLITZ PERCENTAGES BY WEEK
EXPLOSIVE PLAYS ALLOWED
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Basically, we will keep this simple at this point and circle back to where we started.
From this perspective, we are talking about the type of historic lows that get coaches fired. I would never endorse that as I think Rod Marinelli is a fantastic coach, but when you start to discuss the all-time worst in the history of the sport when it comes to taking the ball away, well, let's just say nothing should surprise us.
This week, they travel to Buffalo. One characteristic about this defense we like very much is that they always seem 100% sold out in the effort department. But, this is the type of game where a team that is done would often check out. I don't think this team would ever do that on defense under Marinelli, as that would reflect very poorly on a group that always battles hard.
Tomorrow, we will look at the Terrance Mitchell interception as part of the Xs and Os post.