Jets to Rely on Defensive Line


Dec 18, 2011; Philadelphia, PA, USA; New York Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine prior to the game against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/The Star-Ledger via US PRESSWIRE

Approximately 18 months ago, Mike Pettine and the Jets defense dressed 11 defensive backs, yes 11, in the 28-21 win over the New England Patriots in the AFC divisional playoff game.

Now, with the personnel changes made, Pettine has discussed how the Jets will be much more of a 4-3 base team in 2012. So much so, that the Jets, although will still use some 3-4, may not use any 3-4 at all during AFC east matchups. The idea is that the 4-3 will generate more of a pass rush, for a team that has struggled in that area of late.

It’s a simple process, the Jets have brought in many young defensive linemen over the last couple of years. Young defensive lineman equals more use of the 4-3 scheme.

Ideally, here’s what the four-man front would look like: Wilkerson will play “80+ percent of the snaps,” according to Pettine. Pace and Coples will be the primary edge rushers with a rotation among Sione Pouha, Mike DeVito and Kenrick Ellis for the fourth spot. Marcus Dixon will bounce between the interior and edge. The defensive line, Pettine said, is the “foundation and strength of the defense.”

Karl Dunbar, Jets new defensive line coach, is a major player in teaching the new scheme for obvious reasons, and as JETSerious pointed out, is teaching up his line constantly. The emphasis as far as the pass rush is concerned, has been better use of the hands and body to get leverage on the offensive linemen, instead of just going through them.

Dunbar has emphasized converting from playing against the run to playing against the pass after the snap. In other words, the defensive linemen will typically play the run first (depending on down and distance, of course) and make the appropriate adjustments if they recognize pass.

Another exciting element to Mike Pettine and coach Ryan will be the ability to use the “46” defense a lot. The active defensive linemen along with their great corners, gives them the flexibility to use the scheme. We have talked about it before, but to recap, it’s an aggressive defense that gives the offense 5 pass rushers to deal with, and the Jets plan to use it in all types of situations, no matter what the offense does.

“It doesn’t matter what the offense does,” Pettine said. “If they think that they’ll keep us out of it by going with four wide receivers… no it won’t. We’re better suited to play it now.”

Perhaps the greatest benefit, Pettine said, is that the 46 will force opponents to have simple pass protections. Offenses will either have to have five one-on-one blocking matchups or “turn the protection” by blocking gaps, which often creates mismatches for rushing linebackers.

The Jets will be able to disguise their pass coverage by using this Bear front(after Rex’s Dad using it in Chicago). It’s a high risk, high reward defense, but the Jets may just have the guys to execute it.

And if the Jets do, they will make an exciting run to be as good, or better than they were in 2009. Who could argue with that idea?