Jets coach Rex Ryan unequivocally said (when is anything he says less than unequivocal?) that New York would rectify its relative absence of interceptions (five) against the Bengals on Thursday night. It was funny, in part, because it was Ryan speaking, but also because if there was a team the Jets' defense could get well against in the turnover area, it's Cincinnati.
Quarterback Carson Palmer has 13 interceptions -- and that might not even be the best part for the Jets. Palmer might not play because of a foot injury, opening the door for his brother, Jordan Palmer, to face the Jets in New Jersey in prime time. Adding to the Bengals' potential misery (if any more could be added), New York is in a salty frame of mind.
Vote: Never Say Never Moment
The Jets' defense has really struggled late the past two games, making it an angry group of guys. This week, Ryan, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine and several players, including Darrelle Revis, said the comeback victory over Houston last week felt like a loss because of the fourth-quarter defensive collapse.
The big issue for New York is getting pressure on the quarterback, something that seemed hat-in-hand for a defense that appears so dominant. However, the Jets have 21 sacks -- not bad, but nothing special either. Outside linebacker Jason Taylor leads the team with four.
This past offseason, I spoke with some front office people from other teams and someone close to Ryan, who said it would be interesting to see how the Jets' defense progresses without a dominant pass rusher.
Ryan is so good at dialing up blitzes to provide pressure that not having a single standout shouldn't be a problem -- especially against a team like Cincinnati. It's also not as much of an issue because Revis and Antonio Cromartie can handle theirs on the corners. It shouldn't also be much of a problem if the offense continues to play the way that it has.
That said, after the Bengals, a game the Jets should romp, their schedule is loaded, with the Patriots, Dolphins, Steelers and Bears up next, before the season finale with Buffalo. New York seems on the fast track to the playoffs -- and I'm guessing the Jets will be adding to their interception total along the way.
Playbook too big? You kidding me?
Give me a break.
I could see if it was a second- or third-year player surrounded by young guys who were trying to learn a new system and what not. But this is the same scheme with the same players -- for the most part -- that operated like a machine last season with the same playbook. I agree with Favre that sometimes coaches and coordinators get a little out of control with their play-calling, occasionally summoning a call in the middle of the game that a team hasn't practiced in weeks.
Maybe that happened more than we think. But what about the bad throws, bad decisions, missed blocks, and poorly executed plays? And when Favre doesn't like the play calls, he audibles -- I've spoken to people with the team who've told me as much.
Things just aren't working like they did last season because Favre hasn't played well, the offensive line hasn't played well and they miss running back Chester Taylor and wide receiver Sidney Rice (just activated off the PUP) more than they thought they would.
Don't blame the size of the playbook. Favre has played too long and his teammates are too experienced to use that crutch. Play better until the end of the season and see if the playbook is really the reason why Green Bay and/or Chicago finish ahead of the Vikings in the division.
Down and likely out
In the past week, I've seen two teams I thought would contend for playoff spots -- Miami and Tennessee -- buckle to the point where postseason play will have to wait.
I don't see any way the Dolphins can get up to speed with the Jets and Patriots, especially with so many injuries decimating their roster. Quarterback Tyler Thigpen will look better this week against the Raiders, but he'll still be under duress and forced into trouble -- unless, of course, the Dolphins remember they have a pretty effective running game.
As for the Titans, it's obvious that the Jeff Fisher-Vince Young drama/injury could adversely impact things. There's also the recently unveiled news that offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger is sick with cancer, an unfortunate development that could emotionally distract players and professionally impact the way the offense is coached and plays are called.
A defense that also looked so dangerous weeks ago has lost its edge. Tackling is poor, players aren't swarming, the sacks have diminished, and so have the turnovers.
The wobbly Texans have a chance to change their fortunes against the Titans and rookie quarterback Rusty Smith this weekend, but they've lost all four games they've played this month and last week's late collapse to the Jets could be a back breaker. The schedule also isn't providing any favors. They're fortunate the AFC South is mired in mediocrity, but all that will do is make their likely sub-.500 record look somewhat palatable.