Success in the NFL is almost entirely measured by getting to or winning championships, and that alone. It's a tool that is used to determine, over the course of a season or career, the franchises players' or organizations' long-term accomplishments. Unfair or fair, that's just the way it is these days. So when you look back at Rex's tenure here in New York, has he been successful? Does Sanchez deserve the credit for back-to-back AFC Championship appearances? Arguably, when Sanchez was a rookie the only reason he "found" success was due to Rex Ryans powerhouse of a defense. And so it seems the same goes for current rookie Geno Smith.
Of course, Smith had his hiccups in his first career NFL start/game in his young career, as would any rookie not named Colin Kaepernick. A couple sacks... he held the ball too long, lost a fumble, and threw an interception.
However, for every turnover or mistake the West Viriginia alumni made, the defense was right there the next series to pick him back up again. As was the case in Mark Sanchez's rookie and even sophomore seasons. It's easy to be confident when you know there's 11 guys on the other side of the ball backing you up after your mistakes.
More after the jump...
Rex Ryan's defense was brilliant yesterday in the clash against Tampa Bay.
The unit limited last year's breakout rookie RB Doug Martin to only 64 yards, on 25 carries and a TD. Allowing Martin to carry the ball 25 times was an obvious showcase that he was going to be their gameplan, and the defense shut him down—forcing Josh Freeman to have to use his arm to beat them. That is, when he was able to, as the front line of the green monster terrorized Tampa's O-Line all game long. Causing sacks, hurrying the QB, and disrupting the run game.
The Jets D-Line is certainly something to write home about.
Wilkerson, Richardson, Harrison, and Ellis all combined for 11 total tackles, with 7 being assisted by other Jets. They also combined on 1.5 sacks, with Wilkerson bringing down Freeman all by his lonesome. The best part about this young line is just that: they are all young. The oldest being Kenrick Ellis at 25 years old; there is a lot to look forward to for years to come, barring any injuries. The ability to shut down a feature running back says a lot for a rookie and a couple of second and third year tackles. It also shows Rex's undeniable quality of defense he constantly can put out when the team believes.
Since Quinton Coples and Nick Bellore have been nursing injuries, I thought for sure that the weakest part of the defense was going to be the linebackers.
Boy, was I wrong.
Changing packages, faking zones and blitzes; the core of the defense shined in it's first game of the 2013 season. David Harris and DeMario Davis were the leaders of yesterday's fantastic performance. They took away the middle of the field, removing Freeman's security blanket in Martin when he threw, and stopping Martin if he got past the line on a run. Harris also forced a fumble from Doug Martin at the end of the first half, ending the 'could be' momentum before receiving the ball again in the second half.
DeMario's play of the game came late in the 4th quarter on a tackle after a Vincent Jackson catch that, if you were watching, was definitely going the distance until Davis reached him with speed I didn't know he had. NOW, i'm starting to see the potential that Rex has been praising with Davis since last year. If he does in fact pan out, QB's coming in to face Gang Green will most definitely have to change their game plans.
Antwan Barnes also had a sack/safety in the 1st quarter after a botched snap in Tampa's own endzone. His hustle forced Josh Freeman to kick the ball out of bounds to prevent a TD. He would finish the day with 2 total tackles.
The secondary also played well in the Jets season debut. The absence of CB Kyle Wilson was a sigh of relief to see, and it's possible the organization is ready to move on from the night-and-day D-Back. Antonio Allen and Dawan Landry led the backs with (6) and (4) tackles, respectively, and while they didn't necessarily shut anyone down, (V. Jackson: 7 catches, 154 yards and M. Williams: 4 catches, 54 yards and a TD), they still provided a solid presence downfield.
Dawan Landry also had an interception in the 2nd quarter off a deep ball from Freeman, and he was able to return it for 38 yards. So far, he doesn't look as agressive and athletic as his younger brother, as he did miss a couple of key tackles, but it's still only one game.
If there's one thing that stays true with Rex's NYJ, it's his uncanny defense.
Year after year, he has been pumping out top-10 disciplined defenses, that would make Nick Saban salivate at his mouth. If this trend continues throughout this year, there's no reason that the Jets couldn't finish the year over .500, which is the most you can realistically hope for in a rebuilding year.
One could even go as far as to say Rex will still have a job here next year, regardless of the win/loss percentage, with the fight this team has in them. They didn't give up until literally the last whistle of the game, and that's a team I can get on board for.
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