Will the Jets implement a more aggressive and DETAILED 4-3 scheme this season? I say it’s inevitable….
As I sat watching the 4th Quarter of Superbowl 46, more specifically the last 4-5 minutes in which the Patriots highly potent offense struggled to do much of anything against the Giants defense primarily due to the consistent pressure from the Giants front four, I couldn’t help thinking to myself; “I wonder if Rex is watching this?” Now of course the likely-hood that he was actually WATCHING the Superbowl was pretty high considering he WAS in attendance but I was more so curious if Rex was paying attention to what that Giants 4-3 based D-line was doing to Tom Brady and that Patriots offense during a very crucial point late in THE most important game of the NFL season? I distinctly remember saying to myself “I really hope Rex is paying close attention to this.” Not necessarily JUST because of what the Giants defense were doing to the Patriots but because of HOW they were doing it. What I was hoping Rex was paying close attention to, was the Giants NOT utilizing exotic blitz schemes to disrupt Brady and the offense, the Giants NOT depending on “coverage sacks” to drop Brady in the backfield and the Giants consistent, aggressive and highly effective pass rush and penetration by their front four. More importantly, I was seriously HOPING Rex would see the advantages of utilizing more of the 4-3 Base defense at crucial times in games. I for ONE honestly believe Rex WAS not ONLY watching and taking notes but there’s a good chance he was probably asking himself why he hadn’t thought of this before. Rex “thinking” here shouldn’t necessarily be to completely transition the Jets defense from a 3-4 Base to a 4-3 Base (at least that isn’t what I’d do and I’m certain Rex will never divorce the 3-4) but to incorporate the 4-3 base defense into the defensive game plan NOT just for the sake of switching up defenses periodically just to see what happens but to effectively utilize adequate 4-3 defensive game planning to allow the D-line to take advantage of adequate 4-3 personnel in hopes of substantially upgrading the pass rush and being vastly more effective in stopping the run, an area the Jets had serious issues with on more than one occasion last season.
I think it’s fairly important to note again that I don’t feel Rex WILL or SHOULD totally abandon the 3-4 base defense, a defense he’s had immense success utilizing over the years, one that undoubtedly played a severely vital role in capturing the Ravens title in which he served as their defensive line coach in 2000 and a defense that Rex has successfully solidified here in New York since he’s taken over as HC in 2009. I do however believe that Rex HAS been taking notes from the Jets cross town Stadium mates and is SLIGHTLY curious to see just how EFFECTIVE a more solidified 4-3 base will be this season when adequately implemented into the defensive game plan. If the Jets were trying to keep this potential “transition” covert, then they are doing a piss poor job of it because the moves are so obvious. So let’s briefly take a look at some of the FEW notable Jets defensive off-season moves that leads me to believe that Rex will and SHOULD utilize more of the 4-3 this season:
1.) Karl Dunbar HIRED.
In my opinion this is the biggest addition to this Jets defense and by FAR the most important. Jets parted ways with their former defensive line coach Mark Carrier, who left to coach the Bengals secondary (Carrier a former CB himself) and welcomed former Vikings defensive line coach Karl Dunbar to the team. Dunbar will be charged with getting an immensely talented Defensive line to play up to its full potential. I fully expect young players like Muhammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis and rookie Quinton Coples to benefit the MOST from Dunbar’s presence and in fact I could see these young guys excelling for the most part. Dunbar coached the Vikings D-line and coached a 4-3 base very effectively while doing so. It’s well known the success that the Vikings had on defense, when Dunbar was hired by the Vikings in 2006 he immediately made an impact. From 2006 – 2008 the Vikings led the NFL in defense against the run each year between 2006 – 2008 and over that same period, the Vikings only allowed an average of 70.8 rushing yards per game and considering the Jets struggled against the run at the WORST times last season, I’d say Dunbar’s tutelage should be a welcomed asset.
2.) Quinton Coples
Going into the draft the consensus belief was that the main area of need for the Jets was OLB but in all actuality the biggest “need” for the Jets was a pass rusher no matter WHAT position it came from, simply put, a pass rusher was definitely a need for this Jets defense. The Jets “addressed” this need when they drafted 6’6 284 pound pass rushing DE Quinton Coples out of North Carolina. Coples is a highly versatile, special, freakish athlete that will add to the Jets versatile front. He’s another player that can slide between DT and DE and be effective no matter what. Dunbar will be elated to play merry go round with the front line in order to keep opposing offenses on their toes and from getting comfortable and a lineup that can both rush the passer and stop the run. Although I believe Coples is athletic enough to play OLB in 3-4 schemes, I’m certain Rex Ryan and Karl Dunbar are pinching themselves when thinking about the potential havoc this kid can cause in a 4-3.
3.) Demario Davis
Jets waited into the 3rd round of the draft to select the position MOST thought they would take in the first round of the draft; Linebacker. Jets selected Linebacker Demario Davis from Arkansas State. Davis has elite speed, chases hard and fast on every play, has a HIGH motor and is an excellent option for OLB in a 4-3 defense in which he could play free and really contain the run from sideline to sideline. I think Davis will get his opportunities to shine and alternate with Bart Scott from time to time but I’m confident that if the 4-3 is utilized like I believe it will be, Davis will be getting more playing time than most people are projecting. The Jets really feel as though they may have gotten themselves a steal with Davis and after the first rookie mini-camp there seems to be more people agreeing with that sentiment.
Those are ONLY 3 notable defensive moves the Jets made this off-season that helps my case but don’t pay attention to the QUANTITY of moves but the QUALITY of the moves that were made. It’s hard to simply ignore important moves such as these and simply brush them aside but there’s seemingly no doubt that more 4-3 implementation has a high likely-hood of taking place this season for this Jets defense. What it simply boils down to is essentially the Jets defensive line looks to be an immensely strong asset to this Jets defense, if NOT their strongest. Wilkerson look GREAT last season and is expected to flourish, Ellis has the attributes and tools to be a VERY good DT, Sione Pouha is as good a DT/NT as there is in the league and you mix in Coples and Karl Dunbar and there’s seemingly NO reason why the Jets shouldn’t feel as though RIGHT NOW, their D-line is a much stronger asset than their linebacker unit as a whole. If this IS the sentiment then why wouldn’t Rex Ryan, Mike Pettine and Karl Dunbar NOT want to utilize the 4-3 more often to maximize the potential on the D-line? That’s certainly a legit and logical SEMI rhetorical question if there ever WAS one and it’s a question that Jets fans are undoubtedly expecting this talented defense to ANSWER quickly and emphatically this season! With the promise and potential that’s hanging over this defense is there any reason WHY Jets fans should do anything BUT?