With four coaches on its staff—including the head coach and the defensive coordinator—having worked previously for the Baltimore Ravens, the Jets can certainly be expected to try to emulate the Ravens' style of play this season, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
And that's not a bad thing at all.
Rex Ryan, the Jets' new head coach, spent 10 seasons on the Ravens' defensive staff, including four as defensive coordinator. During those 10 seasons, the Ravens never ranked lower than sixth in the entire National Football League in team defense. And that defensive group was largely responsible for Baltimore's appearance in Super Bowl XXXV.
Ryan has brought Mike Pettine with him from Baltimore to be the Jets' new defensive coordinator, along with assistant Dennis Thurman. They will seek to transform the Jets into an aggressive attacking defensive unit, turning loose players with big-time playmaking potential like Calvin Pace, David Harris, Kerry Rhodes and Darrelle Revis.
The Jets made sure to go out and sign three former Ravens standouts on defense—linebacker Bart Scott, safety Jim Leonhard and defensive end Marques Douglas—not only for their skill and knowledge of the scheme and playbook Pettine will employ this season, but for their passion to attack the opposition, as well. All three will be expected to perform on the field, as well as create a new mentality in the defensive unit.
On the offensive side of the ball, the only former Ravens assistant to join the Jets staff is quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh, who was with Baltimore during the team's Super Bowl championship, and then had a successful run at the University of Pittsburgh. His will be a difficult task, trying to get rookie first-rounder Mark Sanchez up to NFL speed by opening day. And failing that, Cavanaugh will need to help make Kellen Clemens a viable alternative until Sanchez is ready to assume the starting position.
But as far as the offensive playbook is concerned, there should not be a major change from the past few seasons, as Brian Schottenheimer remains the team's offensive coordinator. However, one can expect the Jets offense to more resemble that of two years ago when Chad Pennington and Clemens were at the helm, than that of last year with Brett Favre.
Two years ago, the Jets were a team that wanted to run the ball and rely on the short-passing game, with a fair amount of trick plays thrown in for good measure. Last season that changed somewhat with Favre as quarterback. Even though the Jets featured the league's top rusher in Thomas Jones a year ago, Schottenheimer was willing to let Favre air it out more than the team did during the '07 campaign.
This year there are many reasons for the Jets to play more conservatively on offense. First, Ryan has stated his preference for a smash mouth running attack featuring Jones, rookie Shonn Greene, and the elusive playmaker, Leon Washington. Second, the Jets' inexperience at the quarterback position lends itself to a more conservative approach. And finally, the lack of proven receivers outside of Jerricho Cotchery and Dustin Keller make a more conservative game plan likely.
It is an all-around approach that has proved successful in Baltimore, and it is what Ryan has been groomed on. Let the defensive win games for you, and make sure your offense does not lose them.
That will be the Jets approach in 2009.