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Reality Check

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The New York Jets have two games left in the 2011 season to avenge the disaster that occurred in Philadelphia on Sunday. It’s not often that playoff caliber NFL teams lose 45-19 at the hands of a below .500 team. It seems like an even more rare occurrence that a defense like the one in New York gets lit up for nearly 50 points. After watching the 2011 Jets for 14 weeks, maybe it shouldn’t be.

We assume the Jets have a great defense. We talk about Rex Ryan’s schemes. Darrelle Revis blanketing receivers on the outside. David Harris in the middle. Domination from start to finish.

The only problem? Well, to be perfectly honest, this Jets defense stinks.

Don’t believe me? Think this post is an overreaction to a poor game on Sunday? Still want to blame Mark Sanchez for all the problems the franchise has? That’s cool. Unfortunately, the numbers agree don’t lie.

Since Rex Ryan arrived in 2009, Gang Green has gone from dominant to good to poor on the defensive side of the ball. Here is how they ranked during the ’09 and ’10 seasons (each ending in a trip to the AFC Title Game) compared to this current season.

Points allowed: ’09 (236, #1 in the NFL), ’10 (304, #6 in the NFL), ’11 – through 14 games – (315, #20 in the NFL)

They have gone from 1 to 6 to 20 in three seasons. It’s going to be hard for them to not allow at least 100 more points this season than they did in Rex’s first year. This group has allowed 30+ in a game four times so far this season. That feat was achieved against them a total of five times between ’09 and ’10.

Passing yards per game allowed: ’09 (153.7, #1 in the NFL), ’10 (200.6, #6 in the NFL), ’11 (205.1, #7 in the NFL)

It’s no coincidence that during Darrelle Revis’ best season as a pro, it was impossible to pass on New York. Adding Antonio Cromartie was supposed to make the team even more formidable, but at times they can be had. There is still no answer for covering a tight end over the middle. Just ask Rob Gronkowski and Brent Celek.

Rushing yards per game allowed: ’09 (98.6, #8 in the NFL), ’10 (90.9, #3 in the NFL), ’11 (112.9, #16 in the NFL)

The more time goes on, the less immovable the Jets front seven becomes. It seemed like every one of the Baltimore defensive units that Rex Ryan oversaw in Baltimore was dominant against the run. While last year pointed the Jets toward a trend in that direction, they have been gashed far too often this season.

True Jet fans have quietly noticed this problem becoming more and more prominent as the years have passed. Is the problem Rex? I doubt it. He didn’t get dumb overnight. Is the problem the personnel? Big time. The last four Jet drafts have produced exactly one defensive starter (rookie Muhammad Wilkerson) for this current unit. Is the problem underperforming stars? You can make a good case for that. Revis hasn’t been as dominant as usual. Cromartie is as inconsistent as they come. Bart Scott gets slower by the week.

This Jet team, regardless of what happened in Philadelphia, is still in good position to make the postseason for the third consecutive season. But unlike the last two years, a dominating defense won’t be joining them there.


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