Since accepting the job as head coach of the New York Jets in 2009, Rex Ryan has preached to his players to “play like a Jet.”
That can mean a lot of things, such as being physical, playing hard and being tough. It’s about doing your job and trusting your teammates to do theirs.
It’s about playing to the best of your ability and giving it your all, every snap, every play, every game.
Ryan and general manager Mike Tannenbaum believe they’ve assembled a roster 60 or so players deep, the 53-man active roster and the practice squad, full of guys who play like Jets each and every Sunday.
Defensive lineman Mike DeVito definitely embodies the spirit of playing like a Jet.
Scooped up by the Jets as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Maine in 2007, DeVito has thrived under Ryan.
A seldom-used backup under the previous coaching regime, DeVito was given an opportunity to play and has locked down a starting job in Ryan’s defensive scheme.
Now, DeVito is one of the best run-stuffing defensive linemen in the NFL, and he’s a key part of the puzzle.
DeVito is expected to start against the Philadelphia Eagles after missing the past two games with a knee injury. He also missed two games earlier in the season with an injury to his other knee.
“It’s great to have him back,” Ryan said. “He was having a huge year for us and now to have him back, the other guys can back up. They’ve had a lot of playing time, so you’re getting better, your depth is getting better.”
Those depth players have stepped their game up.
Rookies Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis, along with Marcus Dixon and Ropati Pitoitua have all made strong contributions alongside Sione Pouha, the rock of the Jets defensive line.
With the Jets defensive line at full strength again, they’ll have to face one of the best rushing attacks in football, led by running back LeSean McCoy and the multi-talented quarterback Michael Vick.
McCoy leads the NFL in rushes of 20+ yards, but he also leads the league in rushes for no gain or a loss. It’s up to DeVito, Pouha and company to control their gaps and stop McCoy in his tracks.
Otherwise, it’ll be a long day for the Jets.