The Jets, The 46 Defense, and Why the Jets Will Succeed With It


Jan 26, 1986; New Orleans, LA, USA; FILE PHOTO; Chicago Bears defensive end Richard Dent (95) in action against the New England Patriots during Super Bowl XX at the Superdome. The Bears defeated the Patriots 46-10. Mandatory Credit: Malcolm Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

The Jets are entering a new season, with a mantra of “one step faster”. With that, the Jets have drafted a bunch of guys on the front seven, and have a new defensive line coach, Karl Dunbar. He, and coach Rex Ryan, have talked a bit this offseason about using the “46” defense more this season. This is a good idea, and will set the Jets up for success.

First, a bit of a description of how the defense works, along with the diagram above. For those who don’t know, the defense was brought to the forefront by Rex’s dad, Buddy. He made it famous with his Chicago Bear teams in the 1980s. The name came from the Bears Doug Plank, who played on these teams at safety, and wore the jersey number “46”. No, I am not going to compare our guys to Richard Dent, Mike Singletary, ..etc. Just going to show how it will work with the “type” of player the Jets have.

Basically, the defense is an extra-aggressive version of the 4-3 base defense, four linemen, three linebackers. The defense shifts the line to the weak side of the offensive line, the side without the tight end. Both guards and center are taken up by both defensive tackles and the left defensive end. The weak side defensive end lines up one to two yards outside the LT, leaving them all alone when trying to block. The alignment makes it difficult to double team, trap..etc., because you have to account for everybody.

Another part that confuses offenses is that the 46 takes the outside linebackers, and lines both of them up on the strong side of the offensive line. The point is, the defense confuses the offense, and gives a lot of opportunity for rushing the pass rusher, an idea that we all know makes Rex Ryan salivate.

Here is a good basic description of how the “46” lines everyone up, courtesy of Wikipedia:

Defensive ends: The weak side defensive end lines up one to two yards outside the weak offensive tackle. The strong side defensive end lines up directly in front of the strong side guard. The object of the weak side defensive end against the run is to protect against reversals and counters. Otherwise on pass plays he goes after the quarterback. The strong side defensive end is to make sure the offensive guard in front of him does not push him inside and does not get released to block the linebacker.

Defensive tackles: The weak side defensive tackle lines up in front of the guard. The other defensive tackle essentially becomes a nose guard and lines up in front of the center. The main objective for the weak side tackle is the same as the strong side defensive end – to avoid being pinched inside or let the guard release to block the linebacker.

Linebackers: The jack linebacker lines up on the outside shoulder of the strong tight end and, like a defensive lineman, lines up on the line of scrimmage. He ensures nothing gets outside of him on the run. He can do multiple coverages on the pass or he can blitz. The charley linebacker will line up on the line of scrimmage and on the inside shoulder of the tight end, to cover the tight end or making it difficult for the tight end to release easily. The middle linebacker will line up about four to four and a half yards off the line of scrimmage and directly in front of the strong offensive tackle.

Safeties: The strong safety will line up four to four and a half yards off the line of scrimmage and will stand directly in front of the weak side tackle. The free safety will stand about ten to twelve yards away from the line of scrimmage and will stand directly in front of the weak side guard.

Cornerbacks: Corners will line up seven to eight yards off the line of scrimmage in front of their receivers in man-free coverage or they will play up on the line of scrimmage in bump and run coverage.

Now we talk about why the Jets will succeed with this.

First, and most simply, it caters right to what Rex loves. Rex loves to bring the pressure, and we all know it. Heck, sometimes we think most of the league knows it, and it caused us problems. Any scheme that will bring pressure, is good for coach Rex.

You need speed to run this system, and the Jets have drafted players to fit that bill.

We were slow last year and it showed. Enter, Quinton Coples. We have seen all the footage by now, the guy can fly off the edge. Throw him into the mix with guys like Sione Pouha clogging up the middle, Mo Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis, Mike Devito, even possibly Ricky Sapp and Damon Harrison, and the Jets have active guys on the front four. Dunbar has already said they will use more four man fronts, and they have the horces to do it.

Enter, Demario Davis, who is fast, and an excellent tackler. He has the ability to get to the QB on the inside as well as drop back into pass coverage. Drop him into the fold with Aaron Maybin, who led the team in 2011 in sacks, the return of Bryan Thomas, who has has as many as 8.5 sacks in one year, Calvin Pace, who has 25 sacks in four years with the Jets, and Bart Scott who looks ready to rebound from an off 2011, and the linebackers are scary. Don’t forget about our best tackler, David Harris too. Granted, maybe not 1985 Bears scary, but scary. At full force, the Jets have a quick, and very active front 7 that will excel when setting up in these formations.

One of the weaknesses of the defense is that it is considered vulnerable to short, quick passes. The West Coast offense often had some success against it, as the quarterback got the ball out before the defense could get to him. This is not an issue for the NY Jets.

The bump and run, as well as any other coverage is done on the outside. When you have an island on one side(Darrelle Revis), and Antonio Cromartie on the other, who can cover anyone and everyone, the receivers are not getting open on the quick pass.

The biggest question is over the middle, but the Jets have improved there too. Yeremiah Bell has better stats against the pass than anyone gives him credit for. Demario Davis, once he learns the coverages a bit, will be able to get back there and stay with TEs, as will Josh Bush, and Antonio Allen. Laron Landry will help, and Eric Smith should bounce back with a better season than last year.

A new year, new players, new defensive line coach, and a return to an old concept, started in the Ryan family. The 46 defense. Great idea for the players the Jets have, and they will succeed by implementing it.