Rex won’t give up on Top-5 Defense
JETS HEAD COACH ‘STUNNED’ BY DISMAL PASS RUSH PERFORMANCE BY DEFENSE.
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Rex Ryan was confident in training camp that he was the best defensive coordinator in the game. Not only that, but he beat his chest while defiantly announcing his 2012 defensive unit as the ‘best group he’s coached’ since becoming a head coach.
After the New England Patriots put up 49 points on the Jets Thanksgiving evening, dropping them to the 19th-ranked defense in the NFL, Ryan, losing six of his last eight, is ’stunned’ by the recent play of his defense — particularly the pass rush — but isn’t ready to give up hope.
“I’m not willing to concede anything, though. Maybe we can have some of those great games. We’ve got five games left,” Ryan said Thursday.
As a manufacturer of perennial top-five defenses [he's ranked in the top five in total defense every year since 2005], Ryan — thirteen weeks into the season — isn’t giving up hope of meeting his lofty expectations, but believes it’ll take ’some doozies on defense to get there’.
Short of getting the New York Sack Exchange back on the field, the 2012 Jets will buck Ryan’s defensive trend. Currently, the Jets are giving up 354.1 total yards per game — good for 19th in the NFL. Ranked 30th in the league with 17 team sacks and with Bryan Thomas your leader with 2.5 sacks, getting to the quarterback — much like gas in the Greater New York area — has come at a premium.
Through 11 games, the Jets have averaged 1.54 sacks per game — which, in return, would work out to 24.64 sacks through a 16-game season. To put that in perspective nineteen other teams already have 24 team sacks.
The reason for the lack of sacks is two-fold. One, the loss of Darrelle Revis — the type of unique player that allows head coaches to not worry about one side of the field — forced Ryan to change his approach. Instead of having a lock-down corner who can provide single man coverage on either end of the field, he has one. Having a healthy two would allow the defense to send an extra pass rusher if desired, where Ryan wouldn’t have to worry about the back end coverage. Without Revis, however, he has to worry about the back end coverage and, instead, replaces an extra would-be pass rusher with a defensive back.
The other reason is Aaron Maybin. He unexpectedly exploded for the Jets in 2011 — leading the team in sacks and forced fumbles while only playing in half the season. After given a new contract, new job security and new life in the NFL, Maybin brought the mayhem in training camp — where the only thing that was louder than his skull-cracking hits was his mouth. The problem was, it never translated to the regular season. Maybin was cut at the mid-point of the season for his lack of production.
Ryan wouldn’t place blame solely on Maybin however, citing that often times the sack statistic can be overrated. And he’s right, a bigger picture point-of-view of the pass rush takes QB hurries and hits into account when measuring pass rush efficiency.
“Sometimes sacks are a little misleadings, I remember we played New England the first year I was here and we knocked [Tom] Brady down 22 times and had no sacks. Sometimes that can be misleading, but we wont a Super Bowl in Baltimore with 35 regular season sacks,” he said.
When looking at the bigger picture of pass rushing, however, the Jets individually still have trouble treading water. A Pro Football Focus study on Pass Rushing Productivity[ Sacks (1) + Hits (.75) + Hurries (.75) / # of pass rushing attempts x 100] indicates that only rookie DE Quinton Coples has been the most productive Jets pass rusher, scoring a 7.4 PRP after getting 16 QB pressures over 168 pass rushing snaps.
He ranked tied for tenth among inside pass rushers.
The rest of the Jets? Well, they reside in the murkiness of mediocrity — as PFF only focuses on either end of the spectrum and offers little information on the middle men.