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Jets Run Defense Not Improving Fast Enough

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Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans breaks through the defense of the New York Jets for a 94 yard touchdown rush at LP Field on Dec. 17, 2012 in Nashville, Tenn. Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images.
Chris Johnson of the Tennessee Titans breaks through the defense of the New York Jets for a 94 yard touchdown rush at LP Field on Dec. 17, 2012 in Nashville, Tenn. Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images.

Last season, the Jets run defense was so bad it ranked 26th in rushing yards allowed per game. The Jets run defense will perform slightly better than it did last season.

Run defense was a big reason the Jets finished with a disappointing 6-10 record. Six running backs had great games against them.

Four of the running backs who destroyed the Jets are simply great running backs. They were Houston Texans’ Arian Foster, Buffalo Bills’ C.J. Spiller, New England Patriots’ Steven Ridley and Seattle Seahawks’ Marshawn Lynch.

The other two running backs who had great games against the Jets run defense were Jacksonville Jaguars’ Montell Owens and Tennessee Titans’ Chris Johnson. Owens gained 91 of his season total, 201 rushing yards, against the Jets, and Johnson gained 122 of his season total, 1,243 rushing yards, against the Jets.

This off-season, the Jets made some cap saving moves that will hurt the run defense. Among their notable moves, they released linebackers Bart Scott and Calvin Pace, and defensive tackle Sione Po’uha.

Each of them helped the Jets to avoid finishing last in rushing yards allowed per game. The Jets did a terrible job replacing the three players.

The Jets did a smart move by drafting Missouri Tigers DT Sheldon Richardson. Richardson is 6 feet 4 inches tall and weighs 295 pounds and ESPN projects him to start at right defensive end.

Richardson had 75 tackles and four sacks for the Tigers last season. Charlie Campbell, walterfootball.com, compared him to the Houston Texans superstar J.J. Watt.

According to Campbell, “... of all the players in the NFL, Richardon's non-stop motor and style of play is the most reminiscent of Watt. Both players also have explosiveness and the instincts to make impact plays even when not recording sacks.”

The other run defense starters for the Jets are DT Kendrick Ellis who totaled only 18 tackles in 12 games and left inside LB DeMario Davis who totaled only 36 tackles last season. Neither one of them will have a major impact on helping the Jets stopping the run.

The Jets will face some great running backs this year who will get at least 90 yards. They are Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Doug Martin, Spiller, Baltimore Ravens’ Ray Rice, Oakland Raiders’ Darren McFadden (if he is healthy), and Cleveland Browns’ Trent Richardson.

Richardson and the development of left DE Muhammad Wilkerson and left outside LB Quentin Coples will help the run defense finish outside of the bottom seven in opposing rushing yards per game. However, the run defense will need a miracle to avoid the Jets missing the playoffs for the third consecutive season.