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Green & White Had Gritty, Blue-Collar D-Line

Posted Feb 25, 2011

This is the sixth of eight position reviews of the Jets' 2010 season that are appearing now on newyorkjets.com.

NFL fans have grown accustomed to seeing the Jets defense clamp down on opposing teams’ rushing offenses, and it was no different in 2010 under head coach Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine.

The front seven, particularly the linemen in the base 3-4 defense, did a tremendous job of stopping the run, ranking third in the league in that category. Much of that success can be attributed to tackles Sione Pouha and Mike DeVito, who filled in wonderfully for the big man in the middle, Kris Jenkins. For the second straight year, Jenkins’ season was cut short by an ACL tear, and this year it came in the first game of the season.

“When we got Kris, we were so excited about him coming here,” general manager Mike Tannenbaum said. “We were even more excited to have him play in Rex's defense. Unfortunately, he hasn’t had the participation we had hoped he would have, but we will look at that as well. We haven’t made a decision. It would be very intriguing to see what he can do over a 16-week season and play under Rex. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened yet, but we will take a long look at his situation.”

Pouha and DeVito were the D-line leaders in tackles for the Jets, and they were helped by the longest tenured member of the Green and White, Shaun Ellis. The Tennessee standout had 4.5 sacks during the regular season, but then exploded with a two-sack performance against New England in the divisional round of the playoffs. Ellis helped Ryan’s team avenge the 45-3 December loss in Foxboro and advance to the AFC Championship Game for the second straight year.

“That was a special performance,” Pettine said after that game. “Shaun's a guy that really ramped it up and I just told him, ‘Whatever you wore to bed, whatever you ate, whatever routine you went through, whatever you drank in the locker room before the game, just make sure you do it again.’ That was as good a performance of one of our interior guys that I've seen in the two years since we've been here.”

Another veteran along the front line that Ryan and Pettine brought into the mix was Trevor Pryce, whom they knew quite well from their time with the Ravens. Pryce is one of the active sack leaders in the NFL and the Brooklyn, N.Y., native played a role in the Jets’ pass rush throughout the season after he was acquired in late September. The 35-year-old, a Ryan/Pettine favorite, is unsure if he'll have a role with the Jets next season.

“Trevor will be an interesting thing,” Ryan said. “Trevor talked to me about this being his last season, that he was happy he came here and wanted to end as a Jet. Whether he wants to continue or not, I'm sure, he'll have those discussions. The thing that's tough is that there's going to be a lot of decisions. One thing we can always count on, we'll always do what's in the best interests of our football team.”

Other players who showed promise during the season were Matt Kroul and Marcus Dixon, who recorded a sack against the Bears in Week 16. A player who was acclaimed in training camp and early in the season is Vernon Gholston, the Jets' first-round draft pick in 2008. But toward the end of the season Gholston’s playing time decreased, and he was inactive for all three of the Jets’ postseason games.

“Vernon not playing towards the end is something we are going to take a long look at and see if there is a role that makes sense for him," Tannenbaum said. "If there is, then we will keep him. If not, then we will move on. That’s something we will look at over the next few weeks and months.”

Stats Snapshot

Three of the NFL's top 10 active sack leaders played for the Jets last season, including the top-sacking DT in Pryce and the No. 6 DE on the list in Ellis:

 Players Teams Years Sacks
 1. LB Jason Taylor MIA-WAS-NYJ 14 132.5
 2. DE John Abraham NYJ-ATL 11 102.5
 3. LB Joey Porter PIT-MIA-ARZ 12 97.0
 4. DE Dwight Freeney IND 9 94.0
 5. DT Trevor Pryce DEN-BAL-NYJ 14 91.0
 6. DE Julius Peppers CAR-CHI 9 89.0
 7. DE Jared Allen KC-MIN 7 83.0
 8. LB DeMarcus Ware DAL 6 80.0
 9. DE Robert Mathis IND 8 74.0
 10. DE Shaun Ellis NYJ 11 72.5

Monday, Feb. 14 — Quarterbacks

Wednesday, Feb. 16 — Running Backs

Friday, Feb. 18 — Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

Monday — Offensive Linemen

Wednesday — Defensive Backs

Preseason Live: New York Jets

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