Rex Ryan said nothing much good comes out of a loss except possibly the learning. And what the Jets may have learned is that their run defense can be all that it thought it was before C.J. Spiller creased them a few times on opening day.
“We’ve got to put the loss behind us,” DE Muhammad Wilkerson said of the Sunday slipup in Pittsburgh, “but we were challenging ourselves all last week about being physical up front. We just wanted to come out and attack the challenge.”
“We need to bounce back still from that first game,” said DT Mike DeVito. “We kind of took the pedal off the gas there and let the Bills run for some yards. We want to be the top run defense in the league. We’re capable of doing that. So now it’s just digging ourselves out of that hole that we started off in.”
By a few measures, the run defense was outstanding in Pittsburgh. The Steelers needed Ben Roethlisberger to carry them on his broad shoulders because their backs were finding no room in gaining 66 yards on 28 carries.
A big component of those figures were seven Jets tackles behind the line of scrimmage (six on running plays, one on a pass) for minus-22 yards. Led by Wilkerson (2.5 TFLs) and LB Garrett McIntyre (2.0 TFLs, two sacks), those two team figures were both the most in a game in four seasons under Ryan. The last time they had seven TFLs was in the 2007 home win over the Steelers. The last time they racked up more than 20 yards in losses was when they went 7-for-27 at Buffalo in 2004.
On their own, TFLs in a game aren’t great predictors of victory. But they can be an important part of a defensive game plan that can shut down a potent ground game and turn an offense one-dimensional, especially if led by a rookie QB.
Kind of like what the Jets’ run defense would like to do Sunday at Miami. Job One: Prune Reggie Bush.
“They’ve got a great back with Reggie,” Wilkerson said. “He’s a fast guy, so again we’ve got to be physical up front and don’t let him get outside to the edge, because if we do that, it’ll be a problem.”
Bush has been a feast-or-famine type runner over the years. Among the 56 NFL backs with 500 carries since 2006, he’s sixth in percentage of 10-yard-plus runs but he’s also fourth in percentage of “stuffs,” or being tackled for loss. So far this season he’s been feasting — his 241 rushing and 312 yards from scrimmage are both second in the league (behind Spiller, coincidentally).
“With a guy like that, this takes all 11 guys to stop him,” McIntyre said. “We’ve got to create lots of penetration. We’ve got to set edges. That’s huge this week.”
Especially because as poised as Ryan Tannehill has sometimes looked, he’s a rookie who’s been sacked four times, thrown three INTs to one TD and passed to a rating of 62.6.
Tannehill’s comfort in the pocket will be dependent on Bush’s comfort in running the ball and moving the chains.
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us,” DeVito said. “That’s they key to the game, who we play as a defensive front.”
Revis and the Walking Wounded
The Jets’ injury list keeps growing each week. Today’s first report of the week is up to a season-high 19 players. But the good news is that 11 of them were full-go in practice today. And the news is cautiously optimistic on the key-player front as well.
CB Darrelle Revis? “He has not been cleared for contact. He has been cleared for practice,” said Ryan. “We’ll see how that goes.” Revis was in fact limited today.
TE Dustin Keller? Did not participate in practice but sounded confident again that he’ll be ready to play at Miami.
QB Mark Sanchez, who appeared on the list as full participation with a low-back twinge? “I just found out about it today,” Ryan said. “I don’t think it’s that serious.”
Also DNPs were LB Bryan Thomas (hamstring), S Eric Smith (hip/knee) and FB John Conner (knee). Said McIntyre about getting a second start for BT at OLB: “I’ve got to prepare like I’m going to be the guy and whatever happens, happens. I’ll do whatever role they want me to do, whatever it means, as long as we get wins. The more depth we have, the better we are.”
The Dolphins have listed nine players on their Wednesday list. Backup DT Tony McDaniel (knee) didn’t participate Starting CB Richard Marshall (back) and backup WRs Anthony Marshall (hamstring) and Marlon Moore (hamstring) were all limited. Five ‘Fins were full practice.
McKnight Prognosis: Two-Plus Plays
Ryan was pressed about two play-related situations by reporters. One predictably involved the Tim Tebow Wildcat, which went from eight plays vs. Buffalo to three at Pitt. How much will we see the ‘Cat vs. the ‘Fins?
“That’s the beauty of it because we control it,” the head coach said. “The media’s not going to drive it and the opponents, they’re not going to have any idea what we’re going to do with him,” the head coach said. “I think I know the answer but I’m not going to give it to you. I think it’s in our best interests that our opponents don’t know exactly. Will the Wildcat really be featured this week or is it more back-burnered? I think that plays into our advantage.”
As for kickoff man McKnight, Ryan said his one play on offense, on which he ran for 12 yards with a handoff from Tebow, was a function of him being “a little nicked. We’ll see. I think he’ll have a bigger role this week.” How big? “I would think he’d play a bigger role than one snap.”
Tags: Darrelle Revis, Dustin Keller, Garrett McIntyre, joe McKnight, Mark Sanchez, Miami Dolphins, Mike DeVito, Muhammad Wilkerson, Reggie Bush, run defense, Ryan Tannehill, Tim Tebow, Wildcat
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