Jets vs Bills: Defense the Cause for Concern, Not Mark Sanchez

Aidan MackieSenior Analyst INovember 27, 2011

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 27:  Scott Chandler #84 of the Buffalo Bills runs with the ball after a catch as  Brodney Pool #22, and  Jim Leonhard #36 of the New York Jets make the tackle during their game on November 27, 2011 at  MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

After an unimpressive 28-24 victory over the reeling Bills, the New York Jets have kept their slim playoff hopes alive. In the game, Mark Sanchez threw for four touchdowns and just one interception, but completed just 17-of-35 passes.

New York escaped in the final minutes after the USC product conducted a full-field drive that resulted in a Santonio Holmes catch in the corner of the end zone. 

Ryan Fitzpatrick and the Bills offense did not go quietly, as they answered with a sparkling drive in the final minute that just fell short in the final seconds. Fitzpatrick missed numerous throws to open receivers throughout the final minute, including Steve Johnson in the end zone with less than 30 seconds left.

Johnson also dropped a perfect throw in the middle of the field with a clear road to the end zone ahead a few plays beforehand.

The New York defense that is regarded as one of the best in the league was thoroughly unimpressive on Sunday afternoon, as they let a Fred Jackson-less Buffalo offense march down the field at will for the majority of the game.

The two main problems that the defense faces are the inability to force constant pressure on the opposing quarterback and miscommunication throughout the secondary.

New York's main defensive concern heading into the season was the lack of a premium pass rusher, and this hole is costing the Jets now. Even when sending as much as eight men, Gang Green can not find any ways to get to the quarterback.

The only defender who manages to provide any sort of rush seems to be former draft bust Aaron Maybin. Maybin now leads New York in sacks, after recording two of the three Jets' sacks on Sunday. 

The other major problem facing the defensive coaching staff is miscommunication among the secondary. Throughout the final drive, the Jets left receivers wide open, including Steve Johnson in the end zone. 

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 27:   Steve Johnson #13 of the Buffalo Bills lies on the ground as  Darrelle Revis #24, Brodney Pool #22, and Jim Leonhard #36 of the New York Jets celebrate a broken up pass after the last play of the game with the Jets win
Al Bello/Getty Images

Johnson managed to get open after Brodney Pool failed to communicate effectively with cornerback Darrelle Revis. The safety was supposed to help the star corner over the top, but due to the lack of communication and attentiveness, Pool ended up running straight into Revis. This left Johnson wide open space across the middle. 

Fitzpatrick's inaccurate throwing was the only reason New York managed to beat a weak Buffalo squad and stay in playoff contention. In consecutive weeks, the so-called "elite" Jets defense has allowed two below-average quarterbacks to lead effective drives with the game on the line.

The real concern facing Rex Ryan and company is the below-average clutch play of the supposed elite defensive unit. The media should not be attacking Mark Sanchez for his struggles, but rather the so-called defensive genius head coach. 

If Ryan really is the coach he proclaims himself to be, than the Jets should not have major problems on the defensive side of the ball. 

The coaching staff need to mend the dynamic between the defensive players, or else elite quarterbacks such as Michael Vick and Eli Manning will have no problem racking up scores against the "elite" defensive unit.