Friday, July 25, 2008
Gang Green - Defense
The Jets finished last season 19th in points allowed per game. Ew. That is awful. Especially when one looks at their '06 season where they finished 6th BEST in points allowed per game. Great jump...
This year, the Jets' third year in the 3-4 system under Mangini, will look a lot more like '06 if not better. The Jets' management has finally fit some essential puzzle pieces to the defense through great drafting and signings, and everybody should be expecting some great results.
I've compiled three stat projections of the more "respected" football websites to see what the average person thinks of the Jets upcoming defense. Check out the '08 projection versus the '07 reality.........
'08 proj. - 22.27 points allowed per game, 14.3 total interceptions and 29.6 total sacks
'07 real. - 22.20 points allowed per game, 15.0 total interceptions and 29.0 total sacks
ARE YOU F****** KIDDING ME?!?!?!?!?! NO IMPROVEMENT???????? WOW. These humans are very, very foolish. They're fools. Fools are foolish. Damnit. Lets go. Read on.
Here I am going to break down each group on defense for the J-E-T-S.... I can't hold back. JETS JETS JETS.
D-line was a major, major concern last season. Frankly, it was a laughing stock. In the 3-4 defense your line is not expected to be the guys that provide QB pressure, more just absorb as many blockers and clog as many gaps as humanly possible. The most important position in the 3-4 is the nose tackle. That said, although Dewayne Robertson had a pretty good year in '07 according to the numbers (57 tackles, 4.0 sacks) he was completely worthless and horrible. Dewayne is known for his speed, not strength nor size. Dewayne A. does not demand a double team, which completely screws everything up (just ask Vilma) and B. does not close any gaps.
If you haven't heard, the Jets traded for Kris Jenkins. HUGE MOVE. Tremendous. Jenkins is a monster at 6'4" and 335 lbs. He absolutely demands a double team on every single down which enables a lot of flexibility for the linebackers and d-ends which is required for a successful 3-4 defense and will inevitably help our fourth WORST rushing yards against average... After day one in training camp Mangenius said that Jenkins has been working extra ordinarily hard and having him, because of his size and strength, is like having a "3.5-4" defense. Yes Kris.
Our two ends will be the same as last year and they are both good. At the left-end you find the veteran Shaun Ellis. Ellis is gooood. He has lost some of the explosiveness he used to have when he put up 12.5 and 11.0 sack years, but he still manages to get to the quarterback despite regular double teams. He finished '07 with 5 sacks. Now with Jenkins also demanding a double team, this number will be go up.
The right-end position for the gang green will be Kenyon Coleman. He is really built more like a linebacker or 4-3 DE at 6'5" and 295 lbs. However! In only 14 starts last season Kenyon finished with 83 tackles which is GREAT #s for an end. Once again (sorry), the d-line in a 3-4 scheme tries to absorb as many blockers and clog as many gaps as possible, so now with two guys demanding double teams and one who finished last season with 83 tackles, this line will be way, way more effective.
Linebackers are the key to success in the 3-4. The two outside linebackers are normally depended on to put the pressure on the entire backfield, racking up the sacks and tackles for losses and the two inside linebackers are supposed to generally command the middle of the field whether run or pass.
Both OLBs have changed from last year for the Jets and if this wasn't true, I wouldn't be writing this post... Last year we had Victor Hobson and Bryan Thomas who COMBINED for an absolutely putrid 87 tackles and 4.5 sacks. Can you rewind and reread those numbers please?... Luckily Jets management basically said you two suck, and changed both spots.
First move was aggressively going after former Cardinals linebacker Calvin Pace. Pace, who is a former first round pick, has been handled incorrectly for his entire career except last year. In his rookie year, 2003, Pace started in all 16 games at DE and finished with 32 tackles and one sack. In 2004, 2005 and 2006 Pace started in a total of SIX games, all at DE again, and hardly did anything worth noting. Finally in 2007 the Cardinals of Arizona had an epiphany and realized that Pace is an outside linebacker. In Pace's first season as a 3-4 OLB he started all 16 games and finished with 98 tackles and 6.5 sacks. LETS GO. The Jets quickly signed him to a six year deal. He is going to be a stud for us for years. Why isn't Calvin being talked about more? He's nasty and people will soon realize that...
Our other OLB (who by the way came to terms with the Jets finally today) you have probably heard of: Vernon Gholston, our first round pick... Gholston is going to be so SO sick for us. Vernon didn't hesitate at all in making it known that he is an absolute freak of an athlete when he put together one of the best all around combines of all time. Since 2006 Gholston (Ohio State) put up 86 tackles, 30.5 tackles for a loss and 22.5 sacks. Yes he may make some mistakes being a rookie, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that Gholston will get into the oppositions' backfield quite frequently. There is no limit at all to how good this kid can be.
At inside linebacker everyone is going nuts about our loss of Jonathan Vilma. Open your eyes people! Vilma being undersized finally came back to bite him in the ass last season when he only started 7 games for us (injury) and finished with 43 tackles and 0 sacks. In the 3-4 inside linebackers are many times asked to take on an o-linemen and Vilma simply isn't big enough for that task, but don't get me wrong, I love Vilma, I'll always love Vilma, he is SICK and he will be SICK for the Saints who run a 4-3 and have a great d-line... Go get'em Jon...
Buuuuuuuut for the time being, allow me to introduce David Harris. My friend and co-writer Hiro and I were in constant communication on draft-day in '07 and he kept telling me things like, "Dude... David Harris" or even, "Duuuude... I'm telling you! David Harris!!!" Well. That basically sums it up. I remember the announcers in the draft saying that Harris was the best tackler in the 2007 draft. Amazing pick by us. In 16 games last year (only nine starting) Harris finished with a ridiculous 127 tackles (90 solo) and five sacks. He was insane and he will remain in Arkham for the entirety of his career...
Our other inside linebacker is quietly one of the more consistent inside linebackers in the NFL although last year was a down year with only 73 tackles. The thing with Eric Barton is that he isn't one of those super athletic linebackers like Urlacher, Ray Lewis, Vilma etc... instead he relies on his great instincts and top-tier tackling ability. The reason for Barton's down year is simple. He had nothing around him. If you're a linebacker surrounded by an ineffective d-line and piss poor outside linebackers and you're NOT one of the elite elite elite guys in the league, well then, a down year is imminent. But! Guess what Eric?!? Things will be WAY easier this year and you will return to your typical 100+ tackles. Yay!!
The Jets' secondary is more of a question mark than the previous two groups I talked about, however the Jets' secondary is a high upside and very underrated group. Last year the Jets were ninth best in passing yards allowed with the seventh least amount of touchdowns allowed through the air and tied with the Vikings and G-men for 20th in the NFL for interceptions. Improvement is in the very near future. So let's start with the awesome? Surely. Don't call me Shirley.
Kerry Rhodes, you, are, the, MAN. Yesssssss. It is astounding to me that Rhodes isn't talked about more as one of the elite safeties in the game. He's not even really in the discussion. But, he's the fifth best rated safety in Madden '09! And that includes free safeties (Rhodes is a STRONG safety, and pun couldn't possibly be more intended). Rhodes has put up some INSANE numbers in his very short career and in his fourth year in the NFL he will continue dominance. The first two seasons were unquestionably pro-bowl caliber seasons, but last year, only by the #s, was a little bit of a down year. If you watched Kerry week in and week out then you know he is sick. He is just as sick as the previous years, he just had less opportunities to make plays in '07 because there was never any pressure on the QB among other things. He still had a good year with 67 tackles (past two years 105 and 98), 2 sacks, 10 passes defended and 5 picks. Trust me. Kerry is one of the best, and I can't wait for more highlight reel plays this upcoming season.
The Jets traded up in the '07 draft to snag Darrelle Revis which was an amazing move. Revis immediately established that was he was the best corner on the team and no one questioned this all year. This kid is sick and it excites me to know that our strong side of the secondary with Kerry and Revis will be amazing for many years to come. Revis was our only corner last year to start all 16 games because the others all suck. As a rookie on a poor defense he often times found himself matched up one-on-one against guys like Randy, T.O. and Braylon among others. He handled himself very well and kept getting better all year finishing with 87 tackles, which reiterates how bad our d-line and OLBs were and tells you that he is an amazing tackler, 17 passes defended and 3 picks. You'd looooooove to see more picks but the fact that he was a rookie, had to help so much against the run and still was top ten in the league in passes defended gives me a woody.
The next spot is free safety. There you can find Abram Elam. In 13 games played and 8 started Elam finished up with 53 tackles and 2 passes defended. I like him. He's super quick and explosive, he just makes mistakes sometimes. This past year was really his rookie year though, so I have hope. In '06 he was used very, very sparingly as a backup on the Cowboys. He obviously wasn't as good as Revis nor is he nearly as good as Rhodes (yet?) but this kid definitely has really high upside and could / should / will be great for us with a much, much improved defense.
The right corner-back spot is up for grabs. Last year it was mostly played by David Barrett who is very, very bad. The two guys that have the best chances at winning this job are Justin Miller who missed of all of last season with injury or rookie Dwight Lowery.
Justin Miller is a sick athlete. He's got amazing speed, jumping ability and all that jazz. He just doesn't really have great instincts. He can catch the ball, and he is an unbelievable kick returner so he's got the potential to make huge game changing plays, but in his limited amount of NFL experience he seems to get fooled a little too often... He has amazing potential, but will he learn to play the position? Time will tell.
Dwight Lowery, whom the Jets drafted in the fourth round, could've been a huge steal. His only problem is athleticism (if only we could genetically combine the two to create an amazing #2 corner named Justin Lowery). Dwight was bothered by an injury in 2007 but in 2006 his tremendous ball skills were on full display as he lead the entire NCAA in interceptions with 9. It's difficult t think of a good-to-great corner without amazing speed but at one time Ty Law was that and at one time Mike Mckenzie was that too. I have high hopes for this rook, and it should be an intriguing training camp competition.
In summary... to go along with all of these positional break downs, the Jets were third worst in time of possession last season and that was mostly attributed to a very poor offense. The offense will be better than it was last year, no doubt about that, and I've already discussed the defensive changes so, think whatever you think. But if you think the Jets will be irrelevant this year, you're wrong.
Look out for a post on the Jets' offensive game coming soooooooon.