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Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Green Day: Defense is wearing down

By Rich Cimini

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The New York Jets' defense is sucking wind as it heads for the finish line. What else are we to believe?

The Jets have allowed 836 total yards in the past two games, the highest back-to-back total in the Rex Ryan era. The number alone is cause for concern, but it's downright alarming when you consider the quality of the opposition -- the Miami Dolphins and Oakland Raiders. Both teams would consider it a compliment to be called average on offense.

The Jets' top-ranked rush defense no longer is top ranked. After allowing 275 yards to the Dolphins and Raiders, they dropped to second in yards-per-game, behind the Carolina Panthers, this week's opponent.

Fatigue has to be a factor. Because of the offensive struggles, the defense has spent an inordinate amount of time on the field -- a total of 860 plays, 11th most in the league. The Jets have eight starters that play a majority of the snaps, and the wear and tear could be taking a toll. Even defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson, the best player on the team, was unusually quiet against the Raiders.

The Jets allowed a fourth-string running back, Marcel Reece, run down their throat for a 63-yard touchdown.

"That run, it's embarrassing," Rex Ryan said. "It rips your heart out if you give up a run of that distance."

Ryan downplayed the recent struggles against the run, claiming their problems against the Raiders stemmed from gap integrity -- easily correctable, he said. Defensive-line coach Karl Dunbar apparently is more concerned.

"Coach Dunbar is a little hot at us right now," defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson said. "Most definitely, we'll get that corrected."

Frankly, I think it's more than alignment issues and technical hiccups. The defense, under a tremendous amount of stress from Day 1, looks gassed. If that's true, it could be a long final three weeks.

ICYMI: Even though he played the entire game, cornerback Antonio Cromartie was diagnosed with a concussion afterward. ... QB Geno Smith was scolded by his coaches for failing to run out of bounds on a long scramble, initiating contact with a defender. Maybe it's time to re-hire Joe Girardi for sliding lessons. ... An analysis of the offensive and defensive playing time from Sunday's win. ... Former Jets tight end Hayden Smith returned to his roots, playing rugby. Good luck, mate.