Rotating D-Line Adds New Wrinkle To Rex’s Defense
Florham Park, N.J.- Rex Ryan coached defenses are well known for their amoeba style, but according to Ryan things just became a bit more difficult for opposing offenses.
This will hardly be the first defense to imploy a rotating defensive line, but it’s the ingredients in this specific recipe that make it so special. The versatility of each part of the rotation will allow for so many different combinations that there is little chance the opposing offensive line will have an idea what anyone player will do on any one specific play.
Since Ryan has been either a defensive coordinator or a coach his defenses have always been among the elite, but that has never stopped him from assessing the team’s weak spot and going out to find the proper quality players to upgrade the talent at said weak spot.
Two years ago the Jets were eliminated by the Colts and their high powered passing attack and Ryan focused on improving his secondary, last season it was the defensive line that got bullied in Pittsburgh and that’s the area Ryan decided needed to be addressed if this team was going to continue to improve.
“I felt bad for the guys we had.” Ryan said of his defensive line, “We had three guys, and they all had to slug it out every snap last year. We had to get more depth. We had to add more depth to the group. And the fact that they’re younger and things like that, that’s great. We want to be a physical football team-the most physical team. And we weren’t that day (AFC Championship game).
“This year, we thought we had to do something to the defensive line to give us more depth, and that’s why we added those guys.”
Those guys that Ryan was referring to are of course the Jets two big (and that is indeed meant to be taken both figuratively and literally) rookie d-linemen, Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis.
Yesterday Ryan continued to rave about the potential of these two young rookies and explain how excited he is that they can contribute right away. Especially Wilkerson considering he has already been inserted in the starting lineup. But it’s not often that Ryan isn’t going out of his way to praise one of his players, so if you don’t take his word for it then wait to read what Bart Scott had to say about the young rook.
“I think the young kid Wilkerson is going to be a player. I mean, instantly, I think he’s the guy you plug in day one.” Scott said, “He’s really going to pay dividends for us.”
Scott said he’s impressed with the size and power of Kenrick Ellis, but stressed he might take a little more time to become an impact player. Scott says it will be up to him and his teammates to “teach,” Ellis the basics of NFL football because, “coming from a smaller school, a historically black college, he doesn’t really have the great fundamentals going on.”
But the one big addition to this year’s defense that is flying a little under the radar due to the season-ending injury he suffered last preseason is the guy Scott is really excited about.
“I’m really excited about Ropati (Pitouitua). We were excited about him last year, but unfortunately, in the preseason he was injured.” Scott said, “To be 6′9″ and be able to move that well and be 315 (pounds) and be able to run and be long, if he just keeps his pads down, I don’t think anybody can block him because of the amount of leverage and force he gets with his height and weight.”
So technically there will be three new guys added to the defensive line rotation, four if DT Jarron Gilbert can also work his way into the rotation. Actually scratch that and make it five because Ryan is also expecting Marcus Dixon to step up and contribute more in his second year.
Adding the youth and talent of those guys with the veteran savvy of Mike Devito, Sione Pouha gives the Jets the potential to run an extremely deep rotation that can wear out and constantly confuse opposing offensive lines.
Ryan says he will “absolutely,” install a five-or-six man rotation along the defensive line.
“That’s the ideal thing. Last year, like I said, there were three of them. Three guys really slugging it out on early downs.” Ryan said, “We tried to put some other guys in there, as well. Now, I feel really good. When you look at that group out there now, there’s seven, eight guys that you feel really good about.”
The Jets may have lost Shaun Ellis to the Patriots, but they have added more youth and talent to the line while still managing to keep some solid veteran leadership to help bring the young guys along.
Yesterday Mark Sanchez talked about how the Jets defense has, “looked like the ‘85 Chicago Bears defense in practice.” It was pure hyperbole, but the point Sanchez was making was that the defense looks ready to go, not now, but right now. Even Ryan was smart enough to not fall for that trap and deflected any comparisons to the greatest defense of all time, just shaking his head and saying, “No this team is not there,” when asked if this defense will be as good as those ‘85 Bears.
But the Jets don’t need to be the ‘85 Bears, they just need to keep improving. Last year the focus was on improving the secondary and they did just that, only problem was the defensive line wasn’t deep or strong enough. So this year they kept the secondary in tack and seriously upgraded the defensive line.
They may not be the ‘85 Bears, but this defense will still be plenty scary to opposing teams and now not only do teams have to worry about how to attack the talent filled secondary, but also how to stop a potentially deadly defensive line rotation that can attack in a multitude of ways.
So, good luck with that opposing offensive coordinators.