As we've progressed through the offseason, most people have solely been concerned with the offense-and for good reason. Too many people have assumed that the defense will be Top-10 solely because Rex Ryan is Rex Ryan. They may be right, and I certainly lean in that direction. I do think it will be a very good defense. But there is one fatal flaw in the defense, as currently structured.
The run defense.
Last year, as we saw, the defense struggled to contain the run. Sione Pouha was injured, and David Harris was ineffective. Bart Scott was a shell of his former self, and really, the only bright spot was Muhammad Wilkerson. Now, the team has loaded up on pass rushers, including Antwan Barnes, Antonio Garay, and Sheldon Richardson (who is a better pass-rusher than run-stuffer, and you can't rely on a rookie like that anyway, especially in Rex's system). The team has also indicated that Quinton Coples and Ricky Sapp will take on more of a pass-rushing role as well. However, who does that leave to defend against the run? None of the aforementioned guys have ever given any indication they can be relied on to stop the run. Any of them. Ever.
Well, there's Wilkerson, who is the only proven run-stuffer. Kenrick Ellis? He's shown flashes, but it's hard to imagine relying on him. Damon Harrison? Uh. Maybe Harris will return to form? Maybe, but after two down years, I'm not counting on it. Demario Davis? There simply isn't enough evidence to rely on him. Dawan Landry? If you're relying on a safety to stop the run, you're gonna have a bad time.
So, who will stop the team from being gashed by the run? Wilkerson is the only guy we know can do it, but that's obviously not enough. Are we going to rely on Calvin Pace? Yeah, that should end well.
My point isn't to start a panic, because I do expect this to be the main weakness of the New York Jets defense. The pass-defense should remain stout, but do not be surprised if the team struggles against the run and gets gashed up the middle.