Penalties, Fouls Typify a Rough 2020 for the New York Jets Defense

So far through four games, the New York Jets are among the NFL's leaders in penalties.
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Discipline is not a word that would be used to describe the New York Jets defense in 2020. With the 0-4 start, there has been lots of blame passed around. Jets linebacker Neville Hewitt told reporters Monday this responsibility falls squarely on the players and not the maligned coaches.

The Jets, not surprisingly, are among the league leaders in penalties and personal fouls.

“We just have to play smart,” Hewitt said to reporters Monday. “We’ve had penalties on numerous drives we should’ve been off the field. We’re not going to win games until we stop doing those things.”

Those things that Hewitt is referring to are the 11 penalties and six personal fouls the Jets’ defense committed in their 37-28 loss last week to the Denver Broncos.

“Some of them we think are bad calls,” Hewitt said. “But at the end of the day, when you make a tackle you have to lay off of the quarterback or you get there after the ball is thrown, you can’t hit him.”

Hewitt had a strong game amidst the myriad of mistakes. He lead the team with nine tackles, five of them solo, and one tackle for loss. The 27-year-old former Miami Dolphin has 29 tackles so far this season, which leads the team.

The most costly of all the infractions was a facemask penalty on Quinnen Williams on what would have been a sack on third-down late in the fourth quarter. It was the second personal foul just on Williams. That play was the best opportunity for the Jets to get their offense back on the field with time to come back and take the lead. The Broncos never lost the lead after that play.

It wasn’t a dirty or a deliberate play from Williams, far from it. Nevertheless, it is still a penalty.

Through four weeks of the regular season, there have been 23 roughing-the-passer penalties in the entire NFL. The Jets have seven of those, which leads the league.

“The last few weeks the penalties have been killing us,” Hewitt said. “I feel like we are playing well it’s just the little things we have to correct to take that next step.”

“The penalties were just, they were brutal,” head coach Adam Gase said in a conference call on Friday. “When we did hit them, we hit them too late. We were getting personal fouls. It was ridiculous.”

Hewitt played for Gase when he coached the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins cut Hewitt in 2017.