Ranking Toughest Matchups for New-Look New York Jets Defense

Aidan MackieSenior Analyst IJuly 18, 2012

Ranking Toughest Matchups for New-Look New York Jets Defense

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    After dominating the league on the defensive side of the ball throughout the 2009 and 2010 seasons, the Jets took a significant step back last year. 

    In 2009 and 2010, the Jets allowed just 14.8 and 19.0 points per game, which ranked first and sixth in the league, respectively.

    Last season, the Jets allowed 22.7 points per game—good for just 20th in the league.

    The cause of the drastic drop off was the regression of the team's linebacker corps. 

    Bart Scott is not the player he used to be, Bryan Thomas has suffered some troubling injuries and Calvin Pace has seen his sack total decrease in each of the last two seasons.

    The regression at linebacker, coupled with the new-found strength of the defensive line, has led the Jets to consider a 4-3 defense going forward.

    In a 4-3 scheme, New York will be able to force more pressure on the opposing quarterback and finally find a consistent pass rush.

    Although the scheme will probably be effective, the team will encounter some offenses who are fit to dominate oppositions with a 4-3 system.

    Here are six offenses who will be tough matchups for the Jets' new-look defense.   

6. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    The Steelers will be a tough matchup for the Jets' defense early in the season. 

    The Steelers' offensive line struggled mightily last season. The unit allowed a total of 42 sacks in 2011, which was tied for the third most in the AFC.

    However, the offensive line looks primed to improve this year. 

    Pittsburgh added David DeCastro through the draft. DeCastro is one of the top guard prospects of the last decade, and he should be an effective starter immediately. 

    The offensive line will also benefit from Willie Colon's move to guard and a healthy Maurkice Pouncey.

    Against a much better offensive line unit, the Jets will have a tough time generating a consistent pass rush.

    Without a solid opposing pass rush, Ben Roethlisbeger will get comfortable in the pocket.

    When Roethlisberger gets time, he is one of the best quarterbacks in the league.

    Pittsburgh also boasts explosive receivers Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders. All three pose a difficult challenge for the Jets' secondary.

    The Steelers running attack could also burn New York's defense for big yardage.

    Pittsburgh's offense will pose a tough challenge for Gang Green's defense. 

5. Buffalo Bills

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    The Bills offense took a massive step forward last season, as Ryan Fitzpatrick finally emerged as a franchise quarterback and Fred Jackson performed like an elite running back. 

    Buffalo averaged a solid 23.3 points per game last year, which placed them in the top half of NFL offenses. 

    If they can put it all together, the Bills offense could pose an extremely tough challenge for the Jets' defense. 

    New York will have difficulty producing a solid pass rush, as the Buffalo offensive line allowed the fewest sacks in the NFL last season. 

    Without feeling pressure, Ryan Fitzpatrick won't be forced into mistakes, and he will be able to find open receivers among the Jets' secondary. 

    Bills wideout Steve Johnson has always dominated New York, as he somehow finds a way to burn all-world cornerback Darrelle Revis on a consistent basis.

    Fred Jackson will also cause damage out of the backfield.

    Gang Green must step it up in both meetings with Buffalo this season.  

4. Tennessee Titans

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    With a slew of talented receivers, a Pro Bowl running back and a terrific offensive line, the Titans boast one of the league's most underrated offenses. 

    Tennessee was just a win away from the postseason last year despite a quarterback controversy, an early season-ending injury to Kenny Britt and a down year from Chris Johnson.

    The Jets will have trouble pressuring the young Jake Locker consistently, as Tennessee's offensive line is among the best in football.

    The unit allowed the second-fewest sacks in the NFL last season.

    Without a ferocious pass rush, the Jets will have to deal with a confident Locker.

    Locker has plenty of weapons to choose from, including young tight end Jared Cook, dynamic rookie receiver Kendall Wright and stud wideout Kenny Britt.

    Gang Green will also have trouble halting a determined Chris Johnson.

    The Jets' 4-3 set could be exploited by the Titans offense.  

3. San Diego Chargers

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    The Chargers were one of the major disappointments of last season.

    The stacked team finished with a mediocre 8-8 record, and Philip Rivers performed well below expectations.

    Despite the subpar season, San Diego still managed to be one of the league's most dangerous offenses.

    The team averaged 25.4 points per game, which ranked fifth in the NFL.

    The Chargers have a superb offensive line, as they allowed only 30 total sacks all of last year. It will be difficult for the Jets to create pressure on Rivers, even in a 4-3 alignment.

    River has a slew of dynamic receivers to throw the ball to. Malcolm Floyd, Antonio Gates and Robert Meachem will all be difficult matchups for the Jets' secondary. 

    The Chargers could expose New York's defense if the team can not generate pressure in the 4-3 scheme. 

2. Houston Texans

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    The Texans have emerged as one of the game's most dangerous offenses in recent years. 

    Last season, Houston ranked 10th in the league in points per game despite missing starting quarterback Matt Schaub for the majority of the year. 

    The Texans have arguably two of the game's finest at their respective positions in running back Arian Foster and wide receiver Andre Johnson. 

    Revis may be able to handle Johnson, but Foster should run wild against New York's slow linebacker corps. 

    The Jets will also have trouble creating pressure against the Texans' dominant offensive line. Last season, the unit allowed just 33 sacks. 

    New York's safeties will also have trouble matching up with Houston tight end Owen Daniels.

    A fully healthy Texans offense has the ability to dominate the Jets' 4-3 defense.  

1. New England Patriots

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    No defensive scheme will help the Jets when they match up with the high-flying Patriots offense.

    New England has led the AFC in points per game the last two seasons with a staggering 32.3 average. 

    The Patriots have scored an unbelievable 112 points against the Jets in their last three meetings. That is an average of over 37 points per game.

    New England's passing attack is the most dynamic in all of football. 

    Tom Brady, Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker, Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez are all All-Pro talents.

    No player on the Jets roster can match up with either Gronkowski or Hernandez, and Welker will cause chaos in the slot. 

    The only way New York can stop New England's dominant passing game is by generating a consistent pass rush. Unfortunately, the Patriots' offensive line only allowed 33 sacks all of last season. 

    It doesn't matter if the Jets' defense is in a 3-4 or 4-3 scheme; the Patriots offense will dominate.