Inexperience and injuries on the Jets' defense has led to a unit that teams are suddenly able to run against with success this season. Through eight weeks, the Jets have the league's 25th-ranked run defense after finishing third in the league last season.
The way we hear it, the Jets miss DE Shaun Ellis, who joined the Patriots in free agency, and OLB Bryan Thomas, who is on injured reserve, as most of the big runs being allowed have come on the perimeter. Ellis' exit paved the way for rookie DE Muhammad Wilkerson to start. Wilkerson has had his flashes but is still raw.
DE Mike DeVito, one of the best D-lineman against the run, missed Week Seven with an injury and the Jets had two rookies starting — Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis. The rotation on the D-line also has included Marcus Dixon, who is in just his second season.
League observers still consider NT Sione Pouha and ILB David Harris two of the best in the league defending the run. The Jets are allowing 2.83 yards per carry up the middle, which is third-best in the league. But they have allowed an 8.72-yard rushing average on 25 run plays off left end, which ranks 30th.