Got a Case of the Mondays? Fear not! Corey Griffin continues his Monday morning column for the 2013 season. Corey has been a season ticketholder for more than 20 years and has worked as a desker for ESPN New York. This week, the topic is defense.Geno or Mark? Mark or Geno?
Everyone wants to know who will start at quarterback Week 1, but the 2013 New York Jets will not be wholly defined by their signal caller. Sure, the QB will be worth two to three wins (or losses), but in the end, this will be a team defined by the very thing Rex Ryan wants to be judged by.
It’s all about the defense, baby.
Whether it’s a 5-2, 4-3, 3-4 or 46 front, it’ll be the Jets’ defense that defines whether Ryan keeps his job after this year. That’s because no matter how many interceptions Sanchez or Smith throw, it’ll be up to the defense to clean up the mess. Que, Mo and Cro could be on season-long mop-up duty, making sure the offense’s shortcomings don’t cost the team wins.
How successful will they be? Who knows. That’s a question still to be answered – and one that got sufficiently more confusing Sunday night.
No one doubts the talent in this unit. Regardless of Darrelle Revis’ departure, the Jets have made a concerted effort to make their defense their No. 1 group. While the majority of the NFL bolsters the other side of the ball, Rex and company have continued to expend first-round picks on defense. They’ve drafted Mo Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Sheldon Richardson and Dee Milliner. Between those picks and pre-existing players, there’s plenty of talent. Top-five defense talent, even.
While there is a lot to be excited about, this team could struggle to have a six-win season if the defense repeats some of the miscues we saw on Saturday night.
“I’m pretty sure there will be some F-bombs thrown around,” Calvin Pace told reporters on the defense's Monday morning meetings. “It’s cool. You live and you learn and you go get better.”
The Jets back half is going to need to get better as they had some trouble getting off blocks and struggled on screen passes and run plays alike -- especially when the Jaguars used the hurry-up and in some of their less than conventional packages. The Jets first team looked, for all intents and purposes, worrying on the one side of the ball they need to be more than just good. For this team to compete on a week-in, week-out basis, the defense needs to special and doing that without Coples will be even more difficult.
While he’s not the unit’s best player (#BeastMo!), Coples may very well be the lynchpin that helps Rex & Co. get past the loss of Revis. We’ve all seen the stats and the numbers to explain Revis’ impact on this team. The Island moniker was as fitting a nickname as there is in the NFL. He allowed Ryan to avoid investing in a pass rush, but with Revis wearing red and black instead of green things had to change. For years we’ve heard that Rex “can never have enough cornerbacks,” but that tide has shifted with the selection of Coples and Richardson the past two seasons. Ryan is investing in the front of the defense as much, if not more than the back.
The plan had its merits. It’s hard enough to scheme against a Ryan-coached defense with one hulking behemoth marauding his way through guards and tackles like a rabid bear. Add in an ultra-quick bowling ball and a disturbingly-fast-and-athletic-for-his-size pass rusher and you have the makings of an impossible-to-stop unit.
The Giants have their NASCAR units, so the Jets assembled their Truck Series.
Now, Ryan must enter the garage and do some tinkering. He has to find a way to generate a pass rush again rather than hoping Coples could have provided it on his own. The good news is if there’s anyone that can account for Coples’ absence, it’s Ryan. He spent his first four years in New York using bit pieces, exotic blitz schemes and confusing coverages to chase passers out of the pocket. He still has Wilkerson and Richardson and the combination of Antwan Barnes and Ricky Sapp should be an upgrade over Bryan Thomas and Aaron Maybin.
You would think that between Rex’s genius and the quality replacement players, the Jets can field a defense good enough to stay in games. Of course, that’s assuming the offense isn’t poor enough to play them out of games. After what I saw Saturday night, Rex may need a mini miracle to field a defense good enough to balance out that offense.
Either that or a quick return from a certain 6-foot-6 linebacker. Whichever comes first.
Tweets of the dayA collection of amusing, funny and/or interesting tweets garnered from my feed of fans, writers and the sports periphery. These amused me the most.
Tailgatin’ in the apartmentThought this week's Jets food would be better. Disappointed with the Munchies Pack from Crif Dogs.