After more than a decade based in a 3-4 defense, the New England Patriots played a lot of 4-3 last year to get their best players on the field. Now, it looks like the New York Jets are following the same path.
"We might not play a snap of base defense in a division game this year," Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said Thursday. "If it's five snaps a game, that's probably a lot."
That's because the Buffalo Bills and Patriots play spread offenses. It's also because the Jets feel like they have young talented defensive linemen (Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples and Kenrick Ellis) who they want to get on the field. Coples might be the biggest reason. He's going to go back and forth from end to linebacker based on the formation.
"If he's fresh," Pettine said of Coples, "there's going to be more than a reasonable chance that he's going to be out there on all downs."
Calvin Pace and Coples will be the primary edge rushers. Wilkerson will play a ton. Sione Pouha, Mike DeVito and Kenrick Ellis will rotate inside. The new concept will allow the Jets to play Buddy Ryan's old "46" defense more. They will focus more on stopping the pass rather than the run. That will theoretically make the Jets defense aggressors once again.
"Driving on the New York streets is very risky, but I drive home every night," defensive line coach Karl Dunbar said. "If you're going to win big, you got to gamble big."