New York Post

Defense shows fast improvemen­t on third down


After giving up 66 points in the f irst two games of the season, the Jets defense has allowed just 26 in the last two. Nowhere is the improvemen­t more obvious t han t he way the unit has performed in third-down situations. Opponents were 16-for-29 (55 percent) in the first two and 5-for-27 (19 percent) in the past two.

“We’ve been getting them in third-and-longer yardage,” Todd Bowles said. “In third-and-short yardage, it’s kind of tough sometimes. But the guys are just honed in and have been getting stops and focusing on what to do.”

Defensive coordinato­r Kacy Rodgers said the key has been speed.

“I j ust wanted them to play faster. The f irst couple weeks we were so slow on defense. I just wanted to play faster, be more aggressive and get guys flying around,” he said. “For whatever reason we just were [slow]. We couldn’t put our hands on it, but we knew after the first couple weeks, as you look at things, it was really glaring to us.”

He doesn’t believe his unit was over- thinking because he didn’t see mental errors. But since “playing fast” became the focus, he said “each week you come in and these guys are really buying in. They’re seeing the mistakes they’re making and trying to correct them.” The Jets pulled off a scintillat­ing fake punt on fourth-and-21 near the end of the first half of Sunday’s win over Jacksonvil­le with punter Lachlan Edwards connecting with Marcus Williams for 31 yards to set up a field-goal attempt. It didn’t end up working out, though, because they were flagged for delay of game and then Chandler Catanzaro missed the 45-yard boot.

Don’t be surprised if the Jets roll that play out again, said special-teams coordinato­r Brant Boyer.

Asked if that play can be used again this season, he replied “hell yeah you can — if they give it to you. You can run it every time if they give you a certain look.”

When he was on the Indianapol­is staff, he said the Colts once ran the same fake punt in consecutiv­e weeks.

The Jets waived TE Neal Sterling. It creates a roster opening the team could use to activate WR Jalin Marshall, who was suspended for the f irst four games under league PED rules after testing positive for Adderall. It was prescribed but he hadn’t applied for an NFL waiver to use it. It may also mean more playing time for TE Jordan Leggett, who was limited Thursday with a foot issue.

RB Matt Forte again missed practice with a toe injury, but Bowles said he hasn’t yet ruled him out for Sunday’s game. ... DL Kony Ealy (shoulder), CB Darryl Roberts (hamstring) and LB Josh Martin (ankle) also did not practice.

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