Rex Ryan takes a great deal of pride in the 11 guys he puts out there on the defensive side of the ball. Why shouldn’t he be? Despite the struggles in 2012, they fought and they fought until they were back in the top 10 in the NFL in overall defense. They lost their best player, and didn’t miss a beat, and that is a credit to the group that Ryan and company put together.
But there is one part of that unit that fell well short of the mark. We all saw it when we used the “eye test”, but the numbers bare it out as well. We talked about them yesterday, it’s a group that needs a major overhaul. That group? The linebackers. Let me show you what I mean (courtesy of Pro Football Focus).
To start, the linebacker with the best rating on the team, believe it or not, was Bart Scott with a 1.1 rating. To put the number in perspective, the linebackers with the best ratings were Anthony Spencer and Patrick Wills, who both had a 23 rating. Despite leading the team with over 120 tackles, David Harris was actually ranked near the bottom of the league with a -15.2 rating. Demario Davis, in only 301 snaps, actually had a far better rating than David Harris, but that rating was only a -1.5. The only other positive rated linebacker was Bryan Thomas with a 0.3. Not exactly lighting up the world now, are they?
Let’s look at the defense against the run now. The highest rated Jets linebacker? Bryan Thomas with a 3.9. The league high? 18.9, again by Anthony Spencer. I am just trying to show how really far of the pace the group on the Jets really is. How about pass coverage? Nobody even had a positive rating. Bart Scott was the closest with a -0.1, followed by Garrett McIntyre and his -1.1. The best in the league, for comparison, was Patrick Willis with a 9.6.
I am not even going to talk about the pass rush, because we know how dinosaur-like that was from the linebacking corp.
The point? Although the defense played well in 2012, this group fell quite short. They were a part of the group, but if this team is ever going to dream about a title, this group needs to be vastly improved, as we talked about yesterday.