As one of the best defensive minds in the NFL today, New York Jets coach Rex Ryan has always found a way to make his defenses work, year in and year out, no matter what. But in 2013, he may have his toughest task yet.
Ryan will have to make a good impression on new general manager John Idzik, and that means assembling another top defense despite the Jets expecting to have at least eight or nine new starters on defense this season.
Dating back to his days running the Baltimore Ravens defense from 2005 to 2008, Ryan’s defenses have finished in the top five in total defense six of the past eight seasons, ranking sixth in total defense in another.
The Jets were the top-ranked defense in Ryan’s rookie year with the Jets in 2009, third-ranked in 2010 and fifth-ranked in 2011. The 2012 Jets were eighth in total defense, the “worst” ranking ever for a Rex Ryan-led defense.
Last year, despite pitiful linebacker play and some trouble at the nose tackle spot, Ryan still rallied the Jets to be one of the better defenses in an league gearing more and more towards strong offenses than ever before.
Ryan’s always been able to do more with less, but with so much youth and inexperience on defense in 2013, it would help to have a pass rush capable of making life miserable for opposing quarterbacks on a weekly basis.
The Jets believe they have two emerging stars on the defensive line in Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples, and they also expect to get good pass rush production from guys like Ricky Sapp and Antwan Barnes.
Additionally, the 2013 NFL Draft should yield plenty of talented pass rush options for Gang Green, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they considered pass rushers early in the draft, or even took multiple pass rushers throughout.
For all the incredible defensive game planning Ryan does, the pass rush has always been an Achilles heel for him with the Jets, who haven’t gotten an individual double digit-sack season since John Abraham in 2005.
You can bet your bottom dollar that pass rush won’t be on the back burner for the Jets in 2013.