It feels weird to be anticipating a shootout this Monday night when the Jets travel to New England to face the Patriots. What happened to the dominant Rex Ryan defense that carried this team to the AFC Championship Game in 2009?
The rankings may be there in 2009 but the swagger isn't. You can't say the Jets have one of the best defenses in the NFL right now. They aren't controlling games on a week to week basis. There is a lack of big plays and the general aura around Ryan and his exotic blitz schemes driving opposing quarterbacks crazy is no longer existent.
Throughout 2010, there has been brief flashes of dominance but before last week's win over the porous Bengals, the Jets had allowed at least 20 points in 5 of their last 6 games. There has been Colt McCoy and Matt Schaub looking like they were taking part in 7 on 7 drills at crucial moments against the Jets defense. It isn't going to get any easier over the last month of the season either, with the recent announcement that starting safety Jim Leonhard is out for the remainder of the year.
Regardless, there is no better night for the Jets defense to make a statement than this Monday. They can show they aren't going to let this game become a shootout. They aren't New England's defense, which is one of the league's worst. We are all aware of the all the weapons the Patriots have but this same defense held them to 14 points in week 2, without Calvin Pace and with Darrelle Revis for only a half.
The Jets don't have any great individual pass rushers. It is time for Rex Ryan to scheme up something that will keep a pass rush in Tom Brady's face all game. He did it in week 2, when Brady threw 2 of his 4 interceptions on the season. The Jets have struggled to cover the tight end all year. How about mixing and matching the coverage with your two elite corners to take away some of the productivity of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.
Jason Taylor, you have generally been a disappointment this year. Yet, we signed you for games like this. You closed out New England in week 2, do it again. Darrelle Revis, you were posterized in week 2 by the Patriots. Make up for it. Calvin Pace, you showed some signs of life last week. How about you keep acting like our top outside linebacker and pass rusher? Eric Smith, Brodney Pool, James Ihedigbo...all of you need to step up your game to compensate for the loss of Jim Leonhard. This Jets defense was promoted to be good and deep enough to overcome an injury. We overcame the loss of Kris Jenkins. There is no reason we can't overcome the loss of Leonhard.
It is time for the Jets to be who they said they would be on defense. Mark Sanchez and company are going to get their points against a porous New England secondary. The defense needs to rise up and make sure Tom Brady can't match Sanchez's production, because unlike Sanchez, he is facing a quality defense.