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Could the Jets implement Buddy Ryan's 'Bear' D?

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When the best defensive lineman in the draft fell to the Jets at No. 6, the range of emotion understandably swung from elation to confusion and to fear. Did this mean Muhammad Wilkerson wasn't getting a new contract and would be traded? Are the Jets no longer a 3-4 team? How on Earth can Leonard Williams, Wilkerson, Damon Harrison, Sheldon Richardson and Quinton Coples -- almost all of them first-round picks -- get on the field at the same time?

The likely answer is that they won't. The Jets will simply platoon their group and work Harrison in on short-yardage situations. The ability to generate a fresh interior pass rusher on every down is an unbelievable luxury in today's NFL given the lack of overall talent at the position. On any given down, they will have two players who absolutely warrant a double team.

But for the sake of fun, we invited two of our brightest NFL Media analysts -- former offensive lineman Brian Baldinger and former cornerback Solomon Wilcots -- to help us think of some ways in which the Jets and defensive mastermind Todd Bowles can incorporate all of their talent at once.

The overwhelming consensus was a formation that is both practical for a brutal division and ripe with irony.

The Jets and Bills face off for the first time in 2015 on Nov. 12 at MetLife Stadium. Rex Ryan will try and pound the ball with his marquee running back, LeSean McCoy, and he'll see the defense he was always dying to coach.

He might also see a defense that features all five of New York's stud linemen and pass rushers that was invented by Ryan's father, Buddy.

We'll start our roundtable with Mr. Baldinger, who picked up on this potential future trend during a recent film study:

BB: I was just watching Arizona's Week 9 game against the Dallas Cowboys (Bowles was then the Cardinals' defensive coordinator) and they were the first team that shut down DeMarco Murray all year. They had Brandon Weeden at quarterback, but what happened was, they really went back to Buddy Ryan's old scheme. It was the 46 defense and they played a four-man defensive front with a Bear look.

They covered the three inside offensive linemen basically all game. He basically started four defensive linemen, and he sometimes even played a 6-1 with all their linebackers at the line. They covered every gap.

You could totally see Todd playing Buffalo, and Rex wants to run the ball with Shady, and you could see him doing the same thing. Let's get the big boys in here and shut this thing down.

CO: How practical is the Bear really, though?

SW: That kind of alignment says you can't run the ball on us. You're definitely not running the ball inside or up the gut. And now that they've added Leonard Williams, you can play him either inside or at the DE position. Wilkerson can kick down to the tackle or put him inside. You can play Coples as a stand-up end. You've essentially got three defensive tackles and two ends. A five-man defensive line.

SW: It's kind of perfect because the league is cycling back to power football. Seattle has done it. The 49ers have done it. The Cowboys have done it. You're seeing more copycat teams, and that's why you're seeing running backs going higher. I think we had eight running backs go in the first three rounds. Teams know the pendulum is swinging back. Now you're going to see defenses counter. Stacking the box.

CO: Isn't it weird that, and forget about the Bear itself being a tribute to his father, but wouldn't this be the team Rex wanted to coach more than anything?

BB: Right now, Bowles has as much firepower and flexibility as anyone in the league. And the ultimate irony to me is, wouldn't Rex have loved to coach this defense? I said Todd has a chance to be the best rookie head coach, especially with the way he wants to play. He inherits as much ability as any of the other head coaches who got new jobs this year.

BB: Irony was definitely the word. It was the same thing when I saw (Bowles coach) against the Cowboys this past year with the Cardinals. Todd was playing in the NFC East back then when Buddy was coaching there (with the Eagles). So he knew what that defense was all about.

CO: With the additions of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, could we see a more practical implementation of the Bear, and not just something where you're backed up against your own end zone?

SW: You can play man-to-man on the outside with Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie and still stack the box and shut down the run because you're so good at corner. You can add more defenders to the box, drop that free safety back deep and go man-to-man on the outside. There is no doubt. I mean the Jets -- the thing that got the Patriots over the hump to that Super Bowl was the secondary. Brandon Browner and Revis, that put them over the top. I give the Jets the credit. And they even doubled down and added Buster Skrine.

CO: What's your personal preference here? Obviously, it's fun to imagine Williams, Coples, Wilkerson, Richardson and Harrison on the field at the same time, but as a defensive coordinator, what would you do?

SW: I mean, personally, I'm more open to them using the rotation. I can rotate and keep guys fresh. If I'm doing that, how many times do you see an offensive coordinator rotate his linemen? You don't. Those same fat five guys are in the game all the time. I want to rotate my guys and keep them explosive. That's if I'm not playing a team necessarily bent on running the ball.

CO: On paper at least, this defense just seems ... wow.

BB: The big picture here is that I expect the Jets to be the best defense in football. They have the tools to be the absolute best. They have three great press corners, a box safety who can light you up (Calvin Pryor) and studs across the defensive line. They may lack a pass rusher, but they really should be the best defense in football this year.

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