AFCE: Ryan Defenses on Some Long Runs

*This is the final installment in a series of nine Radar entries over the past five weeks detailing trends in the AFC East, downward tendencies each division team wants to correct for the coming season and upward strides that each team wants to continue into 2009.    *

One thing about Rex Ryan's defenses: They're always among the best around.

When he was the University of Cincinnati's defensive coordinator in 1996, the Bearcats' defense ranked 13th in NCAA Division I-A.

In his only year as the University of Oklahoma's D-coordinator in 1998, the Sooners were sixth overall in the nation.

And when Ryan took over Baltimore's defensive reins as coordinator from 2005-08, the Ravens were one of the very best D's in the NFL.

Here's one more measure of how good Rex is: He as a coach begins this season with lengthy streaks for being in the league's top 10 that are the best in football.

Perhaps the most impressive of the current streaks is the 65 consecutive weeks that Ryan's Ravens have been in the top 10 in overall defense, yards allowed per game. With 17 weeks each season to be ranked, that means that the only weeks Baltimore wasn't in the top 10 were the first three weeks after Ryan took over as the DC on Brian Billick's staff in 2005. That's understandable. It took Rex a little while to get his bearings in his new position.

The purple birds' run defenses have the second-longest current streak in the league at 53 games in the top 10. Their pass defense has a more modest top-10 stretch of 17 games, every week of last season only. But that's still the longest such current run in the NFL.

Here are the four longest current streaks in the top 10 in each of the three aforementioned defensive categories:

 OVERALL Wks  RUSHING Wks  PASSING Wks
 1. Baltimore 65  1. Pittsburgh 64  1. Baltimore 17
 2. Pittsburgh 39  2. Baltimore 53  2. Pittsburgh 16
 3. Tennessee 32  3. JETS 17  3. Washington 12
 4. N.Y. Giants 29      Chicago 17  4. NYG/TB 10

This is no guarantee that Ryan's and Mike Pettine's Jets defense will be able to duplicate this wildly successful run. On the other hand, there's certainly a track record here that indicates that the Green & White are about to take a serious leap in class.

Not to mention the testimonials of the players who have experienced the Ryan defensive philosophy before and those that were introduced to it during the Jets' OTAs and minicamps this off-season.

"I think this defense can be great," safety Jim Leonhard has said. "They have a lot of talent. They had a lot of talent before Rex's system and before the guys he brought in. The defense has always been good here. I think this system puts guys in positions to make big plays. This coaching staff does a great job of determining what each player's strengths are and trying to put them in positions to utilize those strengths on a play-to-play basis, throughout every game.

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