The Darrelle Revis saga is over.
The Jets held firm to their stance of not going overboard on a new contract while Revis held firm to being paid fairly given his status in the league. With a new four year contract including $32M guaranteed, both sides walk away happy.
Adding Revis to the mix, along with what the Jets first string defense has done in the preseason, should keep the Jets atop the league in total defense.
The Jets rush defense has seen noticeable improvement from last year. NT Sione Pouha has continued his progression since he filled in for Kris Jenkins last year and will bolster the front line.
The Jets defense was actually better against the run with Pouha in the middle last year. His continued success will allow Jenkins to rest more and give Rex Ryan the flexibility to move Jenkins around to create more havoc for opposing offenses.
The other fatal flaw of the Jets defense last year was the lack of coverage support on the other side of Revis. As outstanding as Revis was, teams with depth at receiver and a solid offensive line could just target the other corners and pick the Jets secondary apart.
The way Peyton Manning and the Colts picked apart Lito Sheppard and Dwight Lowery with Austin Collie last year was the epitome of this problem.
With Revis back and the addition of Antonio Cromartie, the Jets have arguably the best starting corner duo in the NFL (the Bengals are in the conversation with Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph).
The Jets also have, in my opinion, the best all around corner since Revis to come out of college in Kyle Wilson. He can start out as the nickel corner and is a major upgrade over Lowery.
Wilson’s arrival also allows the Jets to slide Lowery to safety, where his strengths are magnified and his top line speed isn’t nearly as much of an issue. For now, Lowery will serve as the dime corner while the Jets utilize FS Brodney Pool, who is a smarter and harder hitting Kerry Rhodes.
With a much more balanced defense, the Jets can afford to leave all of their corners in man-to-man situations on a fairly regular basis. This, in turn, will put the Jets in situations where they can send the house on the blitz without worrying about being burned.
Since the Jets generate most of their sacks from players not on the front line, having a steady secondary will do wonders for the playmaking ability of Rex Ryan’s scheme.
With a potentially historic defense and a highly questionable offense, the Jets are reminiscent of a Super Bowl team which gives Rex Ryan fond memories: the 2000 Baltimore Ravens.
The 2000 Ravens came into their season with Tony Banks as their starting QB. The best (and you could argue only receiving options) were Shannon Sharpe and a fading Qadry Ismail. They had an unproven rookie RB named Jamal Lewis.
Clearly, this team would need their defense to carry them. They did.
The 2000 Ravens defense was one of the greatest in NFL history and it was clear that unit would be special early in the season.
The Ravens started out the year 5-1 with three shutouts. The defense had no choice but to shut people down because the offense was nearly anemic at times.
Starting in week five, the Ravens offense was historically inept. They failed to score a touchdown for five games. The Ravens won the first two of those games and then lost three in a row despite the defense giving up 14 points or less in all of those contests.
At the end of the losing streak, Tony Banks was benched for Trent Dilfer. While he is credited for being a caretaker, he was statistically not much better than Banks during the regular season (59.3% completion, 1502 yards, 12 TD, 11 INT v. 54.7% completion, 1578 yards, 8 TD, 8 INT).
Dilfer nonetheless went 7-1 as a starter for the Ravens because of the defense and the success of Jamal Lewis, who had over 1600 rushing and receiving yards as a rookie.
Add another 800 all purpose yards from RB Priest Holmes and the Ravens execution of beating teams up on both ends of the ball was the reason for their success.
The Ravens defense set several NFL records that year. They allowed just 165 points and 970 rushing yards for the entire season.
Going into the playoffs, there were still plenty of skeptics concerning the Ravens; primarily about their passing game and weak schedule. The defense knew they had to carry the team and once again they rose to the occasion.
After making quick work of the Denver Broncos in the wildcard round, the Ravens had to play the Tennessee Titans, who finished a game ahead of the Ravens in the AFC Central (back in the three division days that seem like ages ago).
Despite having just six first downs, the Ravens cemented the victory when AP Defensive Player of the Year, Ray Lewis took a Steve McNair interception 50 yards to pay dirt.
Next up was the AFC title game against the Oakland Raiders (back in the three division days when they weren’t the perennial five win traveling circus). The Raiders were the NFL’s top rushing attack. The Ravens held them to just 24 yards. The Ravens won relatively comfortably and were going to the Super Bowl.
Against the Giants, the Ravens once again just overpowered the opposition. In one of the most lopsided Super Bowls in recent memory, the Ravens defense dominated en-route to a 34-7 victory. Ray Lewis led the charge and was named MVP.
For the entire playoffs, the Ravens allowed 23 points. They proved that with basically no quarterback and an offense which at times needed life support, a dominant defense could take a team all the way to the Lombardi trophy.
The 2010 Jets could easily follow the 2000 Ravens blueprint.
They have a promising rushing duo of Shonn Greene and LaDainian Tomlinson behind one of the league's best offensive lines.
They have a defense poised to be the best all-around defense the league has seen in a long time.
The 2009 Jets led the league by giving up just 236 points in the era of offense. If that number drops below 200 points, the rest of the league will crumble in fear, especially when you consider there are few teams this year with the talent across the field to have a dominant defense.
Barring injuries, the player who could derail the team is Mark Sanchez.
He must avoid the fumbles and errant picks which plagued his rookie season. If he can limit turnovers, the Jets have the pieces around him for the offense to be much more explosive than the 2000 Ravens.
With a defense whose level above the league average should come in the neighborhood of the 2000 Ravens—a offense that holds on to the ball and occasionally makes a big play is all the Jets might need to get to the Super Bowl.
It’s appropriate the Jets face the Ravens in week one. They are trying to win a Super Bowl in the Ravens mold.
With the Ravens poised to make their own run at Dallas, this could be a early look at the AFC title game.
Monday might give us a sneak peek as to who will prevail.