Jets high on defense even without Revis, Pace

Bryan Thomas had a get-well message for Calvin Pace, his injured
teammate.

”Calvin is selfish!” the New York Jets linebacker shouted with
a smile. ”Write that down!”

Pace will be sidelined a few weeks with a broken right foot,
something Thomas thinks is downright inconsiderate. All jokes
aside, some might consider not having their top pass rusher in Pace
or shutdown cornerback in Darrelle Revis a dire situation.

Not the Jets.

”We’ll get it done,” coach Rex Ryan said Monday. ”This is
what we do. We’re a team defense. That’s why I know our defense
will play great. There’s not a question in my mind that we’ll play
great. We play great team defense.”

Pace, a starting outside linebacker, was scheduled to have
surgery in North Carolina on Monday night to repair a broken bone
in the foot. He and the team said they would know more about how
long he’ll be sidelined after the procedure, but he’ll miss at
least the opener against Baltimore on Sept. 13.

That means Thomas, Jason Taylor and Vernon Gholston will replace
Pace, who led the team with eight sacks last season despite being
suspended four games for violating the league’s policy on
performance-enhancing substances.

”We have guys that are going to run around and I know Rex is
going to pick the best roster to make this thing happen,” Thomas
said. ”When one guy goes down, the next guy just has to step up
and keep the ball rolling. You can’t say, ‘OK, we’re going to put
the season on pause,’ because one guy goes out.”

But the Jets might also be without Revis, locked in a bitter
contract dispute that has no end in sight. Revis, recognized by
many as the league’s top player at his position, wants to be paid
as such.

His holdout reached its 30th day Monday, and it’s a real
possibility Antonio Cromartie and rookie Kyle Wilson will be the
starting cornerbacks against the Ravens. Unless, of course, the
sides reach an agreement soon.

”Obviously, you’re talking about two great players and overall,
in your mindset, you’ll miss them, but it’s about all of us going
out there and making something happen,” Gholston said. ”The way
we’re set up, it’s not just one guy. That being said, everybody
else has to step up and keep the defense being No. 1.”

Ryan’s aggressive defense is designed to throw offenses off with
its unpredictability as players line up at different spots
throughout games.

”Just in case something like this happens, you already know
both positions, the strong and the weakside outside linebacker
positions,” Thomas said. ”Calvin going down, it’s a big void on
the defense, but you still have somebody who can step up and fill
that role.”

Just as the Jets had last season, when they opened without Pace
and the suspended Shaun Ellis. New York also lost defensive tackle
Kris Jenkins later in the year and still finished with the top
overall defense.

”We can get it done,” Ryan said. ”We’ve proved it all through
the years. That’s all I know is great defenses. That’s what we
stand for. It’s not about one guy or two guys. Every team is going
to go through one or two guys you’re going to miss.”

Thomas will likely assume a lot of the man-to-man coverage
duties Pace was responsible for. Meanwhile, Gholston will flip
between defensive end and outside linebacker, as he did last
season. But Taylor, the NFL’s active sacks leader, will be on the
field a lot more than originally expected.

”I wasn’t walking around telling everybody I was a situation
guy,” Taylor said. ”I want to play. … It’s my job to step up
and help. Do I think I can do it? Yeah, that’s what I do.”

Taylor, once one of the Jets’ most despised opponents while with
Miami, can quickly endear himself to the fans and his new teammates
with a few sacks.

”People can write down whatever they want,” Taylor said.
”I’ve always kind of had that chip on my shoulder throughout my
career. People have always said I couldn’t do things. … It’s
dependent on me now to go out and help this team any way I
can.”

Without Pace and Revis, the Jets can certainly use as much help
as they can get. Just don’t think for a minute that they’re
panicking.

”It’s easier with those players around, but we have confidence
in the guys we have here, myself included,” Gholston said. ”It’s
all about the guys we have here and believing in the system.”