The Jets defense won't be elite until they find another playmaker or two
Nobody is trying to say the New York Jets defense wasn't very good last year. The numbers don't lie. They were 6th in the NFL at defending the pass and 3rd in the NFL at stopping the run. Peyton Manning and Tom Brady were both confused and struggled against the defense in their own building during playoff games. However, there is room for an improvement on a unit that is getting old in certain areas and lacks playmakers.
The reality of the situation on the Jets defense is that there really wasn't any big time playmakers in 2010. Darrelle Revis is such a uniquely talented player that he doesn't get the chance to be one because teams simply won't throw on him. David Harris is solid and consistent but not known for creating a ton of big plays. Nobody on the team had more than three interceptions. Nobody had more than six sacks. Funny enough the biggest playmakers might have been the two players we criticized the most heading into the season, Drew Coleman and Dwight Lowery.
Yes, the Jets fifth and sixth defensive backs. Lowery had three interceptions, two sacks, and two touchdowns. Coleman had four sacks, an interception, and five forced fumbles. Of course, I am not saying they were near being the Jets best players on defense but there is something to be said about forcing turnovers, sacking the quarterback, and scoring defensive touchdowns.
An infusion of youth is needed in the front seven. Hopefully, Shaun Ellis can be brought back to finish his career with the team he started it with but the Jets need to draft his successor. Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito are quality run stopping defensive lineman but neither can get after the quarterback. At linebacker, Jason Taylor wasn't the answer to improving the pass rush and despite Bryan Thomas finishing with a team leading 6 sacks, the Jets need to find his long term replacement as well or at least somebody who can provide a pass rush on third downs.
In the secondary, the focus will likely be on keeping Antonio Cromartie around at corner and hoping Kyle Wilson eventually can develop in a quality defensive back. However, a playmaking safety would be a nice addition. Unfortunately, they don't exactly grow on trees. Jim Leonhard is a steady player who can quarterback the secondary but Eric Smith or Brodney Pool were only average players in 2010.
In order for the Jets to have an elite defense, they are going to need to find a few playmakers to add. It also wouldn't hurt if players like Calvin Pace and Antonio Cromartie reached their potential and provided more of the big plays, they are expected to.