Saints post-mortem, Pace Back
FLORHAM PARK, NJ – A day after the Jets were given a non-stop flight back down to Earth, they were greeted at their training complex by a familiar face Monday afternoon, one that will undoubtedly send chills down the spines of quarterbacks around the NFL.
Linebacker Calvin Pace was back at the Jets compound Monday, fresh off his four-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
“I’ve never been so happy to see 61 guys in my life,” the linebacker said. Being away from the game is tough. People ask me (if I) have a game today, and I need to explain to them why (not). I’m just ready to get started.”
With the way this defense has been playing, it was easy to forget that it was without a player of Pace’s caliber. This is, after all, the defense that limited Drew Brees and the video game-esque New Orleans Saints offense to just 10 points, and held Brees without a touchdown pass. They’re also the same unit that has not allowed a fourth-down conversion through the season’s first four weeks. And they’ve been doing it without a starter who’s known for being able to put pressure on the quarterback. Like they need more guys like that.
“Calvis is a tremendous player, there’s no doubt, and that’s not being disrespectful to the men that were filling in for him because I thought they played well in his absence,” head coach Rex Ryan said. “This is a unit I feel that can be tremendous, and we’ve said that from day one. We’re having to use the depth at the back end that we talked about, we’re having to use the depth at the outside linebackers, but now with Calvin back, I’m excited about that.”
It might take Pace time to get his timing back and get re-acclimated to the speed of the game. But once he does, if you thought this defense was outstanding before, it has the potential to be downright scary with him reentering the mix. Having another top-flight pass rusher on this defense will allow Rex Ryan to bring pressure from even more angles, if that’s even possible at this point. Pace became virtually an afterthought through the first four games, because the defense had been so outstanding. But now that he’s back, there’s no ceiling to the things this unit can do.
“My plan is to go out there and put more pressure on the quarterback. You can’t do that enough. Stop the run, especially this week with two great running backs. Go out and do the same thing I did last year. Cause some turnovers, fumbles and go out and be an impact player.”
If he’s successful in executing that plan, we could be looking at the best defense in the game, period.
THOUGHTS FROM REX ON YESTERDAY’S LOSS
“There were a lot of really, really positive things and then we had some guys that maybe never played as well as what they’ve done in the past and the way we expect them to play, and that’s unfortunate,” Ryan said. “But overall as a team, that was a team effort in defeat. I thought New Orleans, you’ve got to tip your hat to them. They deserved that game. They outplayed us. They were the better team that day. It’s hard to accept, but that’s the facts. So we’ve got to just go back to hard work, preparing, and get better.”
He also commented on Mark Sanchez’s demeanor following the game and this morning, stating exactly what you’d expect to hear about the rookie.
“He’s fine. This kid can’t wait. He can’t wait to get to the preparation for the next opponent. That’s behind us. That game is behind us. We’ve got to move forward. We’ve got to learn from it, but we’ve got to move forward.”
Gang Green moves on to their next opponent, the Miami Dolphins, tomorrow with their first practice of the week. Be sure to check back to JetsInsider.com for all your news and updates.
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