I spent the weekend in Cortland, New York covering Jets training camp. So what should we expect from the Jets this year? As the team enters its fourth season under Rex Ryan, it’s impossible to look at the 2012 season without putting it in the context of the Ryan’s other Jets teams. And while the Sanchez/Tebow stories will dominate the media’s attention, in reality, the defense and the running game will be the key elements of the 2012 Jets.


The table below lists the 15 major contributors for the Jets for each year since 2009. Ryan’s defenses are some of the most exotic in the league, and the Jets often have placed six or seven defensive backs on the field at one time. In addition to nickel corner and the third safety, I’m including a fourth defensive lineman slot and a “Designated Pass Rusher” position, a third down specialist and staple of the Ryan defense.

In 2009, the Jets finished #1 in yards allowed, points allowed, first downs allowed and yards per play allowed. The pass defense was the strength, finishing first in completion percentage, touchdown percentage, passing yards, yards per attempt, net yards per attempt, adjusted net yards per attempt, and quarterback rating. While it was a dominant performance, the Jets were far from the most talented defense in the league, and it was Ryan’s schemes that confused offenses. The Jets improved on paper in the following off-season, adding Jason Taylor and Antonio Cromartie, and replacing Kerry Rhodes with Brodney Pool. And while the defense took a step back in 2010, it had a magnificent post-season run, limiting Peyton Manning, Tom Brady and Ben Roethlisberger to just 657 passing yards and 3 touchdowns, while forcing 3 interceptions and recording 8 sacks (5.3 ANY/A). Last season, the Jets added key contributors in Muhammad Wilkerson and Aaron Maybin, but also lost Bryan Thomas and Jim Leonhard to season-ending injuries. The middle of the defense — Bart Scott, David Harris, Eric Smith, Jim Leonhard and Brodney Pool — struggled significantly in their coverage responsibilities. Still, while the Jets did not post great defensive statistics last season, much of that is thanks to a large number of touchdowns scored when the defense was not on the field and the fact that New York faced the most drives in the league. According to Football Outsiders, the Jets ranked second in Drive Success Rate, which measures the percentage of down series that result in a first down or touchdown, and ranked in the top five in first downs allowed, total yards allowed, and adjusted net yards per attempt allowed.
Full article (and tables) at the link.