OK Jets fans. Brace yourselves and get ready for this one.
We all know that the JETS had the best defense in the league this year, and looking at the fact that we allowed so few points per game and so few passing yards per game (allowed over 30 yards/gm LESS than the next best team), I wondered just how good we were on the all-time scale.
So I set out on gathering stats on so-called "yeared" defenses - that is, defenses that were so good, they became known for the years in which they achieved ultimate success. The teams that I compared with the JETS this past season were the '02 Bucs, the '00 Ravens, the '08 Steelers (a little iffy, I know, but bear with me), and the '85 Bears. There are certainly other teams who have had amazing defenses, but I did not want to overextend my reach by including them and, frankly, I'm a bit too lazy to compile all of that right now. Furthermore, there are teams who have had outstanding defenses but who have not won the Super Bowl (including our beloved JETS this past year), and those teams are excluded as well. The point of this exercise is not to quantify and compare the best defenses ever, but rather to identify key statistical trends common to those defenses and to apply them to the '10 JETS to identify areas where we can get better.
I'll give you the skinny right now: we are not on the BOAT scale for two reasons. (1) We did not win the Super Bowl in our vaunted-defensive season and (2) we allowed over 224 points (14 Pts/Gm) in the regular season.
Stats after the jump.
|1||'00 Baltimore Ravens||16||165||3967||924||4.3||216||49||26||35|
|2||'02 Tampa Bay Buccaneers||16||196||4044||963||4.2||236||38||7||43|
|3||'85 Chicago Bears||16||198||4135||945||4.4||236||54||20||64|
|4||'08 Pittsburgh Steelers||16||223||3795||974||3.9||240||29||9||18|
|5||'09 New York Jets||16||236||4037||953||4.2||237||31||14||32|
For overall defense, I ranked based on total points scored against. The first thing that jumps out is that the '00 Ravens had an AMAZING season in terms of preventing their opponents from scoring. They allowed a staggeringly low 10.3 Pts/Gm, allowed only 216 1st downs, and generated 49 turnovers and 26 (!!) forced fumbles. Only the '85 Bears were better in turnover generation among these select teams, and HOLY SH*T 64 SACKS!?!??! As we can see, the JETS allowed 14.8 points per game and were not outstanding in any forced turnover or sack categories.
|2||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||259||510||2490||10||31||4.5||131|
|3||New York Jets||259||501||2459||8||17||4.6||128|
The passing defense category is much more favorable to the JETS (ranked on NetYds/A). Plain to see if that the JETS allowed the fewest passing touchdowns during the regular season among these teams, although I don't believe it is the all-time low (Indy allowed only 6 in 2008). However, any sub-10-passing-TD season as well as any sub-5.0 NetYds/A season is a RARITY and should be celebrated as such. Of note is the fact that the JETS allowed only 128 1st downs from passes. As good as we were at stopping the pass, however, we were SEVERELY lacking in our interception production.
|4||New York Jets||420||1578||11||3.8||87|
|5||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||410||1554||8||3.8||79|
In terms of rushing defense (ranked on Y/A), the JETS stand to make some serious improvements. Although we finished 8th in the league last year, the fact that there were so many more attempts for us and the '02 Bucs (who were also stellar in pass defense) shows that teams know that our run defense is our weakness. We let 87 1st downs and 11 touchdowns slip through, which we have to improve upon. Also, just sit for a second and admire the complete domination that was the Ravens' run defense in the '00 season. Godly. Mind you that the D-Line coach of that team is now our head coach.
The final say:
The New York Jets have a great passing defense. Our passing defense is stellar - on par, in fact, with the greatest passing defenses in history - and we can lay a lot of thanks on Mr. Manhattan for that. With our acquisitions of Cromartie, Wilson, Pool, and Warren (my God how did this guy slip through the cracks!?!) it should improve. What we need, without a doubt, is for our guys to generate more turnovers by intercepting the ball more frequently. This is a (if not the) main strength of our team, and our guys have to excel to pick up slack from elsewhere. Keys to winning it all: allowing less than 2500 passing yards, forcing less than 4.6 NetYds/Att, and generating over 27 interceptions.
The JETS do not have an elite running defense. Last year, there was a stretch of 10 games in which the opposing offense generated over 100 rush yards in 8 of those games. Mind you, Big Jenks played in most of those games. While our ILBs are certainly great, our DLine is just good. However, we can lean on the strengths of our secondary and our pass defense and we don't need to have (nor will we have) the best rushing defense in the league next year. As long as we stay healthy and make sure and hard tackles, we'll be fine. Keys to winning it all: allowing less than 1500 rushing yards on less than 3.7 Y/A.
I really and truly believe that the reason that the '85 Bears are widely heralded as the GOAT, of all the teams to have had the best defense and to have won the Super Bowl, is because of their ability to have great pass defense, great rush defense, and deliver BIGTIME plays on BIGTIME sacks with BIGTIME players. They had twice as many sacks that year as we did last year, and our addition of JT as well as the development of Pace and Harris and the speedy corners will certainly help close that gap. Keys to winning it all: more than 40 sacks and more than 15 fumble recoveries.
We've got all the tools, now all we have to do is execute, hold our opponents to under 14 PPG, and (most importantly) win. Remember that our defense will be forgotten to the pages of history unless we win it all. IN REX WE TRUST.