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It's the Jets' Defense That Will Need to Win Games in 2009

Michael FitzpatrickFeatured ColumnistMay 8, 2009

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 09: Dwight Lowery #34 of the New York Jets is seen against the St. Louis Rams at Giants Stadium on November 9, 2008 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

In the NFL, there is an old adage that says “defense wins games."

Defense is, of course, vitally important to the success of any NFL team, but it might be particularly important to the Jets chances of success in 2009.

Aside from the popular view that defense wins games, there are many who believe that a strong offense can actually breed good defense.

Just look at the 2008 Arizona Cardinals.

The Cardinals scored an average of 29 points per game while their defense gave up an average of 26.6 points per game.

Although the Cardinals’ defense ranked 19th in the league last year, you probably didn’t hear much, if any, criticism of the defense.

Why?

Because the Cardinals were 9-7 and made it to the Super Bowl.

Had the Cardinals’ offense averaged 24 points per game last season and lost nine or 10 games, you wouldn’t be able to open a newspaper in the Phoenix area without reading about how horrific the Cardinals’ defense was.

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Last year, the Jets’ defense gave up an average of 22.2 points per game, which ranked a respectable 16th in the league.

Despite a solid offensive line and a strong back-field led by Thomas Jones, whether it’s Mark Sanchez or Kellen Clemens lining up behind the center on opening day, the Jets will have an inexperienced quarterback at the helm.

Clemens has started just eight NFL games and Sanchez is, of course, a rookie who started just 16 games while at USC.

To ask Clemens or Sanchez to lead an offense that  will score significantly more than 22 points per game, might be asking a bit too much, particularly if Sanchez is the one orchestrating the offense on opening day.

In 2008, the Jets’ defense was excellent in guarding against the run; however, they were 29th in the league in pass defense.

Jets General Manager, Mike Tennenbaum has certainly been busy rebuilding the Jets’ secondary during the off season.

The Jets signed two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Lito Sheppard as while as Raven’s safety Jim Leonhard.   Combine these new acquisitions with players such as Darelle Revis and Dwight Lowery and the Jets might have the solid secondary they were in dire need of last year.

With the selection of Sanchez, most Jets fans are giddy with the anticipation of watching a new and improved offense in 2009.

However, the Jets’ defense and particularly their secondary will more than likely be the deciding factor in the team’s level of success this season.

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