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Mailbag: What's Happening Defensively?


There were high hopes that this defense, which was a force for much of last year, would take a step forward this year. But that hasn't been the case; if anything, they've taken a step back. How do you explain this and what are Rod Marinelli and Kris Richard going to do to get the defense back to where it was? - CHUCK NELSON / RANDOLPH, NJ

Bryan: Explosive plays have been killer for this defense. They're not winning enough battles along the line, especially in those one-on-one situations. When these quarterbacks have had time they've made this defense pay for the problems in coverage. Darnold did a great job moving around in the pocket. Injuries are starting to be a problem and will likely be a factor this week against the Eagles.

Rob: Just like the Packers game, they got in their own way early. Four penalties on the Jets' first touchdown drive accounted for 28 yards and wiped out a field goal situation. But Jamison Crowder also had a 24-yard catch early in that series, the first of five explosive pass plays by Sam Darnold, including the 92-yard touchdown that's now the longest play from scrimmage in the league this year. The defense did a much better job against the run – 50 yards on 14 carries for Le'Veon Bell – but Darnold hurt them in the passing game. It's not just one thing you can point to that's holding them back.

With Jourdan Lewis' latest interception I'm convinced, more than ever, that certain special players can attract the football coming from opposing QBs. Is there some glaring reason that keeps this young interception magnet from getting a chance? Or is it more seniority? - KEVIN PARKER / GRAPEVINE, TX

Bryan: With Anthony Brown injured he will get more of a chance. Would not be one bit surprised if he's the starter this week against the Eagles. He's one of the most competitive players they have in that secondary.

Rob: Lewis also made a key breakup in the fourth quarter that forced a Jets field goal to keep the deficit at one possession. He got a season-high 37 snaps against the Jets, and he might play more regardless this week depending on how Byron Jones and Anthony Brown do with the hamstring injuries they sustained. I've been in agreement with you about Lewis – he's not perfect on every snap, but he seems to make a difference when he's in there.

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