Mired in their longest interception drought in more than three decades, the Jets defense, which has two Pro Bowlers on the corners, is ready to start getting its hands on the ball again.
All-Pro cornerback Darrelle Revis is yet to intercept a pass this season and the team's leader in picks with two, Antonio Cromartie, had an interception ripped from his hands in the Jets' victory over the Houston Texans. This week, the pass-happy Cincinnati Bengals come to town on Thanksgiving and head coach Rex Ryan wants results.
"We can get five in a game," Ryan said. "They happen in bunches I'd like to have some. This week maybe we can get some — and I think we will."
The Jets have only five interceptions on the season and none since Dwight Lowery's pick-six to seal their 29-20 victory over the Vikings. Since then, the Green & White haven't made the type of game-changing plays that Ryan and coordinator Mike Pettine are used to seeing out of their defense. The only other time the Jets went five games without an INT was the final five games of the 1979 season.
Cromartie, however, unofficially is tied for second in the NFL with 13 passes defensed, and whereas the Jets have run only 10 more passing plays this season than running plays, 60 percent of the Bengals offensive plays are passes.
"We're going to get opportunities," Cromartie said. "They're going to get balls to their guys and their playmakers are going to try to beat us down the field and we have to be ready to capitalize on the opportunities that we have."
The Bengals are 2-8, a mark opposite the Jets' 8-2, but their offense is potent with revitalized wide receiver Terrell Owens, whom Revis could be marking 1-on-1 come Thursday night. Last year the Jets took care of business twice in a week against the Bengals late in the season, first at the Meadowlands in the final regular-season game, then in the AFC Wild Card Round in Cincinnati.
"They're a different offense this year," Revis said. "Since they got Terrell Owens, they've changed up a bunch of things in their passing game. We're studying that right now. Some things they do similar, but with him being there, they changed some things up."
While Owens' season of 62 catches for 897 yards and eight touchdowns has been stellar, fellow wideout Chad Ochocinco has admittedly been a bit disappointed by his performance and that of his team. He has 50 receptions for 587 yards and four touchdowns and Antonio Cromartie may be locked up on him in Ryan and Pettine's typical man-to-man coverage.
"You just have to get your hands on him," Cromartie said. "He's a crafty receiver, can get in and out of his breaks really well, has great feet and goes up and attacks the ball. He does a lot of great things and I think the biggest thing on our back end is just making sure that we get our hands on them and do what we need to do."
The Jets pass defense, No. 1 in the NFL last season, is 16th this week, allowing 220 yards per game, and has been vulnerable against No. 2 wide receivers and tight ends as evidenced by TEs Benjamin Watson the Browns (5-74) and the Texans' Joel Dreessen (4-106-TD) the past two weeks and Lions WR Nate Burleson accumulating 113 yards and a touchdown on seven catches in Week 9.
Rookie cornerback Kyle Wilson has returned to the nickel position and looks forward to the opportunity for the Jets to buck that trend and for him to make his first career interception.
"I think I'll definitely have some opportunities to make some plays, being that they throw a lot," Wilson said. "We'll see how it goes, but I'm definitely preparing myself. It's a point of emphasis every week and we're trying as best as we can and we're looking to get a lot of turnovers every week."