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Gregg Williams Opens Up on the New York Jets Defensive Struggles: 'It Still Makes Me Sick'

The New York Jets defense has struggled in 2020, its second season under coordiantor Gregg Williams.

A defense that a season ago was the toast of the NFL is now struggling as much as their counterparts on offense. Outside of the kicking game, the New York Jets are struggling to do anything right.

Despite injuries that decimated the two-deep, the Jets defense a season ago punched above their weight and were No. 16 in total defense. This year, on the other hand, has been a complete disaster. The loss of safety Jamal Adams in a trade and then linebacker C.J. Mosley opting out didn’t help matters but there are few excuses for this unit’s performance.

The offense is struggling, No. 31 in total offense. The defense is equally as bad, also No. 31 in points allowed and sixth worst in total yards allowed.

The shocking number is the 32.2 points per game allowed. For a defense that was respected a year ago for exceeding expectations, that number through the first five games of a winless season is debilitating.

“It’s not a very good number and a lot of it’s not all defensively, but you know it’s not a very good number, and as points on the board, we’ve got to do a good job with that and how you do that is make them kick more field goals, got to do a better job in field position type things and as you see the scoring is up in the league, but it still makes me sick,” said defensive coordinator Gregg Williams on Friday. 

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“All the players I’ve been places I always talk about setting defense back 100 years, because you got to be able to place very strict, stringent defense and the biggest part of it is, when they get into those scoring areas, make them kick field goals, don’t let them cross the goal line.”

The “not all defensively” line is obviously a nod to errors and mistakes made by the offense such as turnovers that lead to touchdowns or conceding the ball in good starting field position for the other team. Not all the points are on the defense although Williams’ unit isn’t helping matters.

The loss of Adams, an All-Pro last year, surely didn’t help matters. Mosley’s opt-out was a surprise and he too is a former All-Pro. Losing two big playmakers on the defense can hurt, especially with a unit that is relatively thin in terms of depth.

“Every year is a different year, every year is a different story. When you guys read my book when I get done, it’ll be some interesting things, it’s going to have to sell in the fiction aisle because no one’s going to believe all the stuff after 40 years. But this will be another year, this will be another year that’s crazy and we have to adapt, we have to be able to do those type of things,” Williams said.

“And how we have likened that, is what happens if that player, both players would still be here, but let’s say they got a serious injury and went on the IR? We got to find ways, you know, those are the things that have to happen and that’s why they brought us in as coaches, we’ve got to coach whoever we get to coach, not got to coach, whoever we get to coach. And this staff is passionate in that way and the players feel that, the players feel the energy and feel the interest and the love of getting a chance to help them be better. And I’ve said this for a long time, all good players want to be coached motivated and inspired and these guys all fit into those categories.”