Ryan’s Jets defense showing signs of dominance
Some players shook their heads. Others couldn’t help but
The New York Jets’ defense sat in the film room, stunned while
watching the video of the last time it played the New England
Patriots. There was Tom Brady leading his offense on a
clock-chewing, victory-sealing drive, and the Jets unable to stop
”The guys, especially up front, those guys looked at it and
said, `Who is that impostor wearing my jersey?”’ defensive
coordinator Mike Pettine said Thursday. ”There were a bunch of
guys that I think felt that way. That’s not us, and that’s not
where we are now.”
Not even close. Since that game – a 30-21 loss at New England on
Oct. 9 – the Jets have turned their defense around. Not that it was
at all bad at the beginning of the season. Far from it. It’s just
that the dominant defense Rex Ryan insisted the Jets would have has
started to show up in a big way.
”It’s all about executing and playing better football,”
linebacker Bart Scott said. ”You look at that film and we didn’t
execute, we didn’t tackle well. That was kind of the beginning of
us trying to make our way back to playing at a high level. I think
since then, every week we have gotten a little bit better.”
The Buffalo Bills found that out the hard way last Sunday, when
the Jets caused turnovers, stuffed the run and put constant
pressure on the quarterback. Next up: Brady and the Patriots on
Sunday night in an AFC East showdown for first place.
”I think last week was our best performance to date,” Scott
said. ”We know it’s going to take that same type of effort, if not
a greater one, to try to beat these guys.”
In the last meeting, the Jets got within six points at 27-21
with 7:14 left in the game on a 21-yard touchdown catch by Santonio
Holmes. Suddenly, a game in which the Patriots had mostly held a
comfortable lead throughout was turning into a possible nailbiter.
All New York had to do was stop New England from scoring and give
the offense time for a winning drive.
Brady went to work, though, leading the Patriots on a 13-play
drive that lasted 6 minutes, 12 seconds and was capped by a field
goal by Stephen Gostkowski that put the game out of reach.
”That’s something we always stress every week is getting off
the field,” safety Eric Smith said. ”There were times we could’ve
gotten off the field, penalties extended drives, things like that.
The Jets gave up 446 yards to the Patriots in that game,
including 136 yards rushing by BenJarvus Green-Ellis. It’s the last
time New York allowed a 100-yard rusher – and the last time the
Jets lost. They allowed 308 yards against Miami the following week,
268 against San Diego, and 287 last Sunday against a Buffalo team
that had been one of the NFL’s best.
Fred Jackson had a quiet 82 yards rushing, and Ryan Fitzpatrick
struggled mightily with a 15-of-31 performance that included a late
touchdown, when the game was already decided, and two
”We’ve been trying to get rolling these last couple of weeks,”
said linebacker David Harris, the AFC’s defensive player of the
week after getting five tackles and an interception.
The Jets were ranked eighth in overall defense the last time
they played the Patriots, and are in the same spot entering this
matchup. But the last few games have proven that New York’s defense
is now much more of a presence.
”We feel good about this week,” Pettine said. ”We feel we’re
a different team. We’re much improved over that performance from
the last time.”
In the three games since, the Jets have five sacks, six
interceptions, seven forced fumbles and a whole lot of
”We’re just stopping the mental mistakes,” said cornerback
Darrelle Revis, who is having another Pro Bowl-caliber season.
”We’re being a little bit more aggressive on defense.”
And that’s exactly the way Ryan likes it. Especially with the
Patriots up next.
”We weren’t good enough to beat them the last time we played
them,” Ryan said. ”I think we will be this week, but we’re going
to find out.”
New York might be wise to borrow from the defensive game plans
Pittsburgh and the Giants used to beat New England the past two
weeks. The Steelers had primarily played a zone defense this
season, but surprised the Patriots with a lot of press coverage in
a 25-17 win two weeks ago. The Giants won 24-20 last Sunday, helped
in large part by their front four putting consistent pressure on
Brady – always a key part of the game plan to beat him.
”It seems to me that he gets a little more anxious at times,”
Pettine said, ”where before you would see him sit in that pocket
and not move and scan the field.”
As evidenced by his 10 interceptions after four all of last
season, Brady can be forced into mistakes – something the Jets
intend to do.
”Oh, yeah, he’s mortal,” Harris said with a laugh. ”He’s not
an alien, after all.”
Notes: WR Plaxico Burress refused to answer a question about the
terrific play recently of Giants quarterback Eli Manning, his
former teammate. ”I’m not talking about Eli,” he said, before
repeating it. Burress has chosen to focus only on his current
teammates. … Burress, Holmes and quarterback Mark Sanchez have
started meeting together in the morning, just the three of them.
”It’s veteran leadership from both wide receivers,” Holmes said.
”Carrying our young quarterback under us and teaching him things
that we see that he hasn’t seen.”