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Salfino Compares 1981/2009 Jets D's

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Just come across an interesting article by SNY's Michael Salfino comparing the 1981 Jets sack exchange defence with the current crop of young Jets. The 2009 number one ranked unit. Now I was not around to witness the 1981 team, so can only go by what I read about them, so found this interesting, and the conclusion even more so:

The case for the 1981 Jets: They had a nickname, which is important: The Sack Exchange. They had a personality -- terrorizing quarterbacks (66 sacks). They demolished the Giants, Patriots, Colts and Packers in the second half that year -- 16 total points and 31 sacks in just those four games. They had a dominating unit -- their defensive line -- with Mark Gastineau and Joe Klecko perhaps the most devastating pair of defensive lineman for one year in NFL history. Klecko unbelievably played most of the season on a broken leg and would throw his crutches down dramatically when running out of the tunnel during pregame introductions. The leg issue might have slowed him down, but I shudder to think what level of menace he would have been that year if it did.

The case against the 1981 Jets: This unit was not No. 1 in any defensive category other than sacks. The pass defense had lots of problems when the quarterback was upright. Sub-par corners Jerry Holmes and Donald Dykes received way too much playing time, as Bobby Jackson, who was pretty good, was hurt much of the year. Lance Mehl and Greg Buttle were linebacking assets, but Mehl wasn't yet great and Buttle was not elite. Middle linebacker Stan Blinka was very limited and a huge liability in coverage. The team had games where they allowed 566 yard, 454 and even 383 as late as Dec. 6 in a devastating loss at Seattle to a quarterback, Dave Krieg, making his first start (20-for-26 for 260 yards and two touchdowns , plus 30 rushing yards and a score). The defense did not rise to the occasion in a home playoff loss to the Bills despite four picks as they allowed Joe Cribbs (83 yards rushing, 64 receiving) to kill them.

The case for the 2009 Jets: They're No. 1 in the NFL in points allowed, yards, first downs, passing yards, passing touchdowns and yards per pass attempt, or YPA. They've allowed more than 300 yards just four times. They've allowed less than 150 passing yards seven times. They've allowed 10 points or fewer seven times. They have the best defensive player on the planet -- Darrelle Revis. The best defensive player in the NFL in 1981 was Giants rookie Lawrence Taylor. Don't think they're slouches vs. the run (fourth in yards allowed per rush).

The case against the 2009 Jets: No nickname. We need one. Please make suggestions to here. They've blown at least two games -- at the Dolphins and at home against the Jaguars. The Patriots tore them apart pretty much in the rematch at New England (411 yards). The Colts did not look too stressed during that first half in Week 16. There is no even adequate pass-rushing force, never mind an impact one. So trickery is the only way they can generate pressure. A reasonable case can be made that they have just one great player -- Revis -- in the aftermath of Kris Jenkins' injury. I like David Harris but middle/inside linebacker is not an impact position in today's game. This unit is far more scheme-oriented than the 1981 Jets, who had two guys that teams just could not block (Klecko and Gastineau).

Verdict: 2009 Jets, comfortably. Of course, this is not the team's best defense ever. That goes to Rex Ryan's father Buddy Ryan's 1968 Jets unit that keyed that great championship season.


Do you agree/disagree with the final verdict?