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Are the Jets built to win in 2009? Defense.

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New York Jets 2009 evaluation, the offensive side of the ball was covered and several concerns were identified. From the inexperience at the quarterback and wide receiver positions to the lack of a proven blocking tight end, there is a good chance that the offense will struggle. The defensive side of the ball should be a different story for Gang Green. Rex Ryan is bringing his physical, attacking style of defense to a Jets team that has a strong nucleus of players.

The new defensive system that Rex Ryan is putting into place evolves around putting pressure on the quarterback. Whether the pressure comes from a variety of blitz packages or disguised coverage schemes the goal is always the same… get the quarterback to the ground. In order to accomplish this goal two things must happen on defense. The Jets must be able to stop the run and the secondary has to be able cover their receiver long enough for the pass rush to get to the quarterback.

Run Defense
In 2008 the New York Jets had one of the better-run defenses in the NFL. But as the season wore down so did the players. In 2009 Rex Ryan is going to have to make a concerted effort to keep veteran players like Shaun Ellis and Kris Jenkins fresh as they are the key cogs to the defensive line. The off-season additions of Marques Douglas and Howard Green will help but there is not much proven line depth after that.

As for the linebackers, the Jets were thought to have a strong unit, especially after the signing of former Raven Bart Scott. Calvin Pace was recently suspended for 4 games while David Harris continues to recover from nagging injuries. Add in the fact that former first round pick Vernon Gholston has yet to prove himself in the NFL and the Jets linebacking unit is a bit shaky.

Pass Defense
For a good part of the 2008 season the New York Jets were amongst the league leaders in quarterback sacks. With the addition of Rex Ryan’s attacking style of defense there is no reason why Gang Green should not repeat that performance in 2009. As for the pass defense itself, the Jets made two very important acquisitions in the off-season. First, the Jets acquired cornerback Lito Sheppard from the Eagles to pair up with Pro-Bowler Darrelle Revis. Sheppard should bring some stability to the corner position, moving some of the younger corners like Dwight Lowery and Drew Coleman to the nickel and dime situations. In addition, the Jets signed safety Jim Leonhard, which should help sure up a secondary that was prone to big plays. Leonhard will also allow Kerry Rhodes more freedom in the defense, which will allow him to attack the quarterback more often.

Outlook
The Jets defense will be one of the strengths of the team and will have to play well early in order for Gang Green to have any success in 2009. The suspension of Calvin Pace for 4 games is a major blow to the unit, especially after considering the caliber of offenses the Jets will be facing (Texans, Patriots, Saints). Rex Ryan will have to be creative with his defensive packages and find a way to get some productivity out of Vernon Gholston. Ryan must also pay attention to the time of possession battle, as there is a good chance his defense could be on the field a lot if his offense struggles.

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