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Lito's Productivity


Cimini takes a look at Lito Sheppard's play since returning from an injury.

Most of the pregame hype has focused on Chad Ochocinco's planned visit to Revis Island. But there's another destination in the Jets' secondary that has been troublesome for opposing receivers. Let's call it Lito's Lair.

Since returning from a bruised quadriceps that caused him to miss five games, and limited him in three others, cornerback Lito Sheppard finally has lived up to expectations. He was on a four-game tear until last week in Indianapolis, where he struggled against rookie wideout Austin Collie.

Sheppard received a mixed review from Rex Ryan for that performance - Collie caught six passes for 94 yards - but his overall improvement has helped create an airtight environment in the secondary. In the four games prior to the Colts, the Jets allowed only 408 passing yards. They're ranked No. 1 in pass defense.

Sheppard said he has been "pain free" for the last five games.

There are some teams where the defense starts up front. The Giants are one example. When their front seven is effective getting to the quarterback (think prior to 2009), it covers a suspect secondary. It begins in the back with the Jets. There aren't many great pass rushers on the roster. Shaun Ellis and Calvin Pace are above average, but you don't game plan against them. What has made the blitzes so effective has been the secondary's ability to hold coverage and give the blitzers extra time to get there. The excellent design of the plays helps, but this defense is built from the back down.