A year and a half after Rex Ryan and Mike Pettine devised one of the most creative defensive gameplans in NFL history, the duo has quietly made a schematic shift that could jolt a lagging pass rush. In 2010, Gang Green dressed an unthinkable 11 defensive backs – 25 percent of the active roster – to stymie Tom Brady in a 28-21 divisional playoff win over the Patriots in January 2011.For the better part of three seasons, Pettine and Ryan have relied on innovative and unconventional tactics to create havoc within the framework of their 3-4 scheme. Although the Jets will retain some of those 3-4 roots, Pettine admitted that “we’re going to be more 4-3” to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks in 2012. The Jets have finished 18th, 7th and 17th in the league in sacks under Ryan.Pettine went so far as to predict that the Jets may not play any 3-4 base defense in their six AFC East games that feature three teams with spread offenses. “We might not play a snap of base defense in a division game this year,” Pettine told me. “If it’s five snaps a game, that’s probably a lot.”
The defensive philosophy this season is simple: “Best 11.” Thanks to an influx of athletic young defensive linemen (see: Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples), the Jets’ best 11 defensive players will necessitate a four-man front.
“With the personnel we have,” outside linebacker Calvin Pace said on the final day of Jets minicamp Thursday, “It’s logical to do it.”Added Pettine: “We just feel that our system is flexible enough that depending on what you’re giving us, we’ll have some answers.”Ideally, here’s what the four-man front would look like: Wilkerson will play “80+ percent of the snaps,” according to Pettine. Pace and Coples will be the primary edge rushers with a rotation among Sione Pouha, Mike DeVito and Kenrick Ellis for the fourth spot. Marcus Dixon will bounce between the interior and edge. The defensive line, Pettine said, is the “foundation and strength of the defense.”
“If he’s fresh,” Pettine said of Coples, “There’s going to be more than a reasonable chance that he’s going to be out there on all downs.”Regardless of the alignments, new defensive line coach Karl Dunbar’s primary teaching point this spring has been developing better pass rush techniques for all the defensive linemen, who have typically been stout run blockers in the past. The theme is to use their hands and body leverage to get to an offensive lineman’s edge rather than simply try to bull rush. “I’m just like BASF,” Dunbar said. “I don’t make the products you have. I just make them better.”
Dunbar has emphasized converting from playing against the run to playing against the pass after the snap.In other words, the defensive linemen will typically play the run first (depending on down and distance, of course) and make the appropriate adjustments if they recognize pass.“I’m more a go-through-the-wall type of guy,” Pouha said. “Now I’m being smart and going around them.”There were good early returns from minicamp. In 49 snaps – or about 75 percent of an average amount of plays in a game – the first-team defense generated six simulated sacks, according to a Daily News breakdown.The defensive line depth coupled with solid man-to-man cover cornerbacks will also give Pettine and Ryan the flexibility to play more “46” defense, an aggressive variation with five pass rushers (and cornerbacks in man coverage) that was originally designed by Rex's father, Buddy Ryan nearly 30 years ago. Although Rex Ryan installed the 46 in the Jets’ defensive playbook in 2009, expect it to be used more often out of any personnel grouping. Pettine and Ryan could conceivably use the 46 with goal-line, short yardage or base defense groupings. They believe they have the appropriate personnel in the front seven and secondary (with cover corners in Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson) to succeed.“It doesn’t matter what the offense does,” Pettine said. “If they think that they’ll keep us out of it by going with four wide receivers… no it won’t. We’re better suited to play it now.”
Perhaps the greatest benefit, Pettine said, is that the 46 will force opponents to have simple pass protections. Offenses will either have to have five one-on-one blocking matchups or “turn the protection” by blocking gaps, which often creates mismatches for rushing linebackers.Pettine noted that there were several times this off-season when those zone protection schemes against the 46 resulted in running backs Shonn Greene or Joe McKnight having to block Pace or Coples.Although most teams that play the 46 typically use a Cover-1 look (one safety in the post) with man-to-man coverage underneath, the Jets will disguise their coverages when showing a Bear front. It’s the ultimate high-risk, high-reward defense that Ryan and Pettine won’t be afraid to use.“Driving on the New York streets is very risky, but I drive home every night,” Dunbar said. “If you’re going to win big, you got to gamble big.
Ravens have a strong pass rush. Jets do not. Until that changes the Ravens D is superior, secondary notwithstanding
You guys are going to see what "having" & in this case "not having" a premier pass rusher can do to limit a pass rush.
This is why the Jets will use more 4/3 now that they have Coples. Mo Wilkerson is going to have a breakout season.
Suggs was a handful & his absence allows the opposing Oline to double Ngata & in effect stifle the Ravens pass rush.
Though Warren sapp is a douche on NFL network, he was explaining this very thing regarding Suggs.
If the Jets can get their safety play up to par, they already have a BETTER secondary than the Ravens.
Lewis is one year older, (37?) I have no idea but he's getting up there. Also Ed Reed is one year older & he's been breaking down little by little each year.
You all will see, the Jets will be the better defense.
After Suggs' injury, it's closer, but I'd say Ravens pending this season.
Up front we have a lot of young and largely unproven guys. Pouha and DeVito are good run-stuffers, but give you no pass rush. They have Ngata, who is a monster. I give them the edge. If Big Mo takes the next step, and Coples works out, I might change my mind on this.
Our corners are much better than theirs. Their safeties are much better than ours. I'd say that's a wash.
Their LBs are better than ours. I didn't want us to sign Ray Lewis in free agency in 2009 because of his age, but he's outlasting Bart Scott. Harris is a very good ILB, but he isn't Ray's caliber, even at his age. We have the original Bryan Thomas, they drafted the next Bryan Thomas (Upshaw). Pace is solid, but unspectacular.
I give the Ravens the upper hand, mainly because they have two definite Hall of Famers (Lewis and Reed), and two possible (probable?) Hall of Famers (Ngata and Suggs). They're an aging group, but until I see stark signs of them slowing down, I consider them the better defense.
Ravens. Jets may have better coaches and Revis, but the Ravens (when healthy) have 4 guys who are arguably the best at their position in Reed, Lewis, Suggs, and Ngata
Pass rush isn't even close
hopefully the gap closes this year. Jets look younger and faster
Lewis & Reed are on their last legs. I would not be surprised to see them both miss time next year with "old man" injuries. You can only play so long in this league, it catches up to EVERYBODY. Reed is still contemplating on whether he'll play or retire? when your at that time in your career, it's almost over.
I believe we finished with top 5 D's during our first two years under Rex, and last year the whole team crashed, but in regards to overall talent? It's the Jets without question. We have the best defensive football player in the game today in Revis, we have an up and coming IMLB in Harris who's enjoying his prime years, a re-vamped defensive line over the past two years, both Landry and Bell combine for the strongest safety duo we've seen under coach Ryan, a defense that features the most speed we've seen to date under Rex etc etc. Haloti Ngata is an absolute freak of nature, but this Ravens defense aren't the same Ravens defenses that they've featured over the years. Ed Reed is aging, Ray Lewis is 37 years old, Suggs is out... I give the edge to the Jets heading into the season.