It’s funny sometimes how we bury the lead. The story last week heading into the Jets’ game against Tampa Bay was basically about two major themes. First, there was the decision by Rex Ryan to sit down Mark Sanchez, let caution prevail and start Kellen Clemens at quarterback. Second, there was the big mystery about who would start at safety, Kerry Rhodes or Eric Smith.
Sure, the Jets’ top-ranked run game got some love, because they were going up against one of the worst run defenses in the NFL in the Bucs. But that was secondary to the soap opera stories.
Truth be told, what was talked about very little again was the Jets’ defense as a whole. And that again proved to be the most important factor in the game. Just as it was in Toronto the week before and just as it was against the Panthers the week before that.
Because in reality, it doesn’t matter very much who starts at quarterback when you play defense the way the Jets do. And it doesn’t matter very much who starts at safety when the unit has proven time and time again that it’s bigger and better than any one player at any one spot.
Think about it. This thing was supposed to fall apart when Kris Jenkins went down. And you can never minimize how good Jenkins is as a player and how good he makes the interior of this defense.
But once again, the Jets as a team proved that they can survive the loss of an individual, because quite simply they have one of the best units in the NFL. (OK, maybe they wouldn’t survive the loss of Darrelle Revis, because he’s THAT good. And welcome to the club, Antonio Bryant. Call Randy Moss and Steve Smith and Marques Colston and Terrell Owens. They’re having jackets made.)
During the three-game win streak that has the Jets very much back in the playoff picture, they’ve allowed 6 points to Carolina, 13 points at Buffalo and 3 points at Tampa. Now I know the critic will say, “But it’s the Panthers, Bills and Bucs.” And true, those are far from elite offensive units. But you give up one touchdown in three weeks to any group of teams in the NFL and you’re doing something right.
And the Jets have been doing this all year. What better example than the defense giving up 10 points to the Saints in the Superdome? The numbers speak for themselves. The Jets have allowed fewer points scored by opposing offenses than any other defense in the league, barely averaging double-digit points allowed per game. How much better are you supposed to play?
So you’re the Jets offense, and you go into a game knowing this: We score 17 points and don’t turn it over, we win. With that being the case, why does it matter who’s playing quarterback? When the Jets play the way they want to play, when they’re truly at their best, they actually render the quarterback more irrelevant than perhaps any team in the NFL.
So if Mark Sanchez is ready to go for the Falcons game, great! If not … it’s probably OK. I’d put my money on the Jets defense next week either way.
Tags: Buffalo Bills, Carolina Panthers, Darrelle Revis, Kris Jenkins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Posted in Bob Wischusen | 24 Comments »