5 New Schemes Jets Fans Will See on Defense in 2012
With a dip in production on both offense and defense last year, there is no question that the Jets need to make some schematic changes on both sides of the ball.
As Rex Ryan takes on a more hands-on approach this season expect the defense to look less like the passive version that dropped them to fifth in overall defense and more like the squad that led the league in 2009.
Here are some of the scheme adjustments you will see from the Jets' defense in 2012.
As defensive coordinator Mike Pettine assumed more of the play-calling duties, the Jets became less and less of an attacking-style team and relied more on fancy coverage concepts to stop offenses.
While it worked to an extent, as the Jets finished fifth and third over the past two seasons, the Jets seemed to miss their aggressive mindset.
With Rex taking the reigns back as the primary defensive play-caller expect the Jets to use a lot more of the exotic blitzes they used back in 2009. Expect to see nose tackles playing linebacker, defensive backs running off the bench to blitz, overloads and everything else imaginable in an effort to confuse opposing offenses.
Plus, when a team blitzes, it gets everyone a chance to get a sack, which is always an exciting proposition for any defensive player.
Another factor that plays into this schematic change is the presence of LaRon Landry. Landry is a terrific blitzer and a terror coming downfield, but he can only hold up in coverage for so long. Expect Landry to get his opportunities to get sack numbers.
While using less and less of the base defense is a growing trend in today's NFL, the Jets' defensive brain trust is taking the concept to an extreme.
The Jets plan on using more 4-3 concepts this year, which makes sense after drafting Quinton Coples in the first round. In addition, it also makes little sense to take players like Mike DeVito off the field just for the sake of running a 3-4.
With the adaptation of the 4-3, the base defense will be used sparingly, Mike Pettine told Manish Mehta of theNew York Daily News:
We might not play a snap of base defense in a division game this year,” Pettine told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News. “If it’s five snaps a game, that’s probably a lot.”
In other words, you are more likely to see Tim Tebow on the field than catch the Jets in their base defense next season.
With the 4-3, the Jets will be able to use a seemingly endless combination of alignments for every situation, making the Jets' defense even more adaptable and flexible.
Interior Pressure Schemes
As we saw in Super Bowl XLVI, the best way to disrupt the Pats' juggernaut offense is to get pressure up the middle.
Because Tom Brady is so good at sensing pressure and making subtle movements in the pocket to avoid edge rushers, the best way to get to Tom is right up the middle because he is not nearly athletic enough to run away from it.
The Jets certainly had this in mind when they drafted Quinton Coples. Coples excelled in his junior season at North Carolina when he rushed the passer from the defensive tackle position.
Expect the Jets to line up their best pass rushers on the interior and use pressure schemes to get in the face of the league's top quarterbacks.
One of the more popular ways in which NFL defenses, particularly the Giants, are trying to deal with these freak-of-nature tight ends is with the utilization of a sub package known as "big nickel."
While a nickel defense adapts to the passing game by substituting a linebacker with a cornerback, the "big nickel" takes the concept one step further and removes another linebacker in favor of a safety.
While this certainly makes your defense a bit more susceptible against the run, the Jets have the run-stuffers up front to get the job done themselves with little linebacker support.
The Jets were able to add a multitude of safeties this offseason in LaRon Landry, Yeremiah Bell, Josh Bush and Antonio Allen. As bad as Eric Smith can be in sub packages he can be an effective player.
You’ll love Eric Smith at 300 snaps, you don’t like him at 1,000.
While they still don't have their Kerry Rhodes-type that can cover slot receivers and tight ends, they have a better idea of the limitations of their roster, and with a deeper safety group, they can use players to their strengths.
Use of Demario Davis in Sub-Packages
To me, one of the most intriguing pieces on the Jets' team is linebacker Demario Davis.
Davis was picked by the Jets in the third round to add a desperate infusion of speed and athleticism to a position that was consumed by age.
Last year, as good as David Harris is as a thumping linebacker, he was constantly picked on in coverage. Depending on how quickly he can make the transition to the pro game, I would expect the Jets to try and insert him into nickel and dime packages as soon as possible.
A player with Davis' speed and athleticism will do wonders for a team that struggled with tight ends and running backs out of the backfield. Davis will also be useful in defending perimeter runs, as he can cover much more ground than the veteran 'backers.
While he lacks the size and experience to replace Bart Scott as a full-time player, he should have a starter-like impact in his rookie season as a rotational player.