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New York Jets: The NFL's Best Defense?

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Can Bowles' crew live up to the hype?

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The Jets really went out of their way to improve the team in free agency this year. According to Sportrac.com and Business Insider, the Jets' $181.3M 'potential' money spent (the maximum possible value for all free agent contracts) was more than any other team in the NFL. In fact, it was over $10M more than New England, Denver, Tampa Bay, Seattle, Minnesota, Carolina, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Green Bay combined in 2015. A massive portion of that money went to upgrading the secondary, with the additions of Darrelle Revis ($70M), Antonio Cromartie ($32M), Buster Skrine ($25M), and Marcus Gilchrist ($22M.) The Jets also threw over $21M in mostly guaranteed money to Jets faithful David Harris, pushing their total spending (free agency plus resignings) to over $200M, almost entirely on defense. Now add this to four first round defensive linemen, including two still-ascending NFL Top 100 studs, and the Jets were the only team to land two spots on Bucky Brooks' Top 10 Scariest Position Groups list; both on defense. You could certainly argue that this is the best defensive roster the Jets have ever fielded.

Not only did the Jets add some elite defensive talents, they also imported a new, defensive-minded HC in Todd Bowles, a quality DC in Kacy Rodgers, and a well-established DL coach in Pepper Johnson. Bowles has proven himself capable of putting his players in position to succeed, even when injuries strike. Rodgers has helped make the Dolphins' defensive line an intimidating force in 2014. Pepper Johnson has been coaching up talent for decades, including turning the Bills' defensive line into one of the most intimidating position groups in the entire league last season. With the addition of so many talented players and ascending coaches to the defense, it stands to reason that expectations would be high.

Many fans have argued that the Jets should be a top 5 defense in 2015 and honestly, it's hard to argue against that. Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Buster Skrine are probably the best CB threesome in football. Even after Richardson's suspension, the Jets are easily in the conversation for the NFL's top defensive line. The linebackers and safeties are arguably league average, making the unit as a whole quite impressive. Sheldon Richardson claimed that the Jets should have the best defense in the NFL. Marcus Gilchrist says that this is the most talented defense he's ever played on at any level. This raises the million dollar question: Do the Jets have the NFL's best defense in 2015?

Personally, I don't expect the Jets to lead the NFL in total defense. I wouldn't be shocked by a monster defensive year from Seattle, Houston, Buffalo, St. Louis, or even Miami. I do think the Jets have their best opportunity in years to be that #1 defense, but it's a pretty tall order. I really couldn't blame anyone for being convinced that the Jets will have the best defense, but as long as the offense is turning over the ball and failing to control the clock, it will be hard to compete with a team like Seattle. However, I do think that this is an incredibly talented unit, and I would really be disappointed if the Jets didn't finish top 5 in at least a few defensive categories. I wasn't a huge supporter of how fast and loose Maccagnan played with the cap space, but I have to admit that I'm very excited to see this defense on the field.