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.”