The Jets feel confident about their offense headed into the playoffs, but the NFL's fourth-ranked defense would like to have a good showing in today's regular-season finale against the Buffalo Bills.
"There are some things we're doing wrong technically and schematically-wise that we have to improve upon," said WLB Bart Scott this week on the latest installment of "Four Quarters." Wednesday, he said, "was a great day to go back and get back into the playbook and just go over what we play, certain coverages and the types of techniques — staying high on the shoulder, spilling, fighting the double team, playing the big-boy double, all that type of verbiage we use in our defense just to make sure everybody understands what we're doing and what's expected of them, to make sure that we can execute on every play."
In 2009 the Green & White surrendered just 47 points in winning five of their last six regular-season games. They gave up just 7.8 points on average from Thanksgiving until their Jan. 3 close of the old Meadowlands stadium, a 37-0 shutout of the Bengals that preceded a playoff run.
Last Sunday the Jets yielded 38 points in a four-point loss at Chicago. They lost three out of their four December games and allowed teams to score 110 points in the Christmas month for a 27.5-point average. If you remove the only non-playoff team, the Chad Henne-led Dolphins, from the mix, the Pats, the Steelers and the Bears averaged 33 points a contest.
While the Jets don't yet know where they'll start the postseason this year, they know they'll enter the playoffs as a wild-card entry on the road again. And you don't want to go into the postseason hoping that you're going to outscore people, so the defense took some time to self-scout this week.
"It's always time to do that. I think it's important to do that. It's important to see how teams are attacking you," said the Madbacker. "If you don't stop something in this league, the next team is going to duplicate it. And until you stop it, it's going to continue to be run. It's just some things schematically we have to work on and keeping the energy up, making sure we're playing with that passion and energy."
In all fairness to both defenses that lined up last week in Chicago, the field was slick and created offensive advantages and the result was a 72-point shootout. But the Jets have struggled to get pressure at times when dialing up numbers, teams have had success throwing the ball away from Darrelle Revis, and both Matt Forte (19-113) and Rashard Mendenhall (17-99) found holes against what has traditionally been a stout rush defense.
"They're trying to dictate our fronts. It's all about numbers in this game. I won't reveal exactly how they're doing it, but they're getting us outnumbered on certain types of runs, using our rules against us, getting our parts to move and then trying to hurry up to get to a different side to get the angles on us to outnumber us," said Scott. "We have to adjust to it."
The Jets will have an opportunity to rest a number of their regulars today, but No. 57 wants to see the regular season through. Sunday's dress rehearsal is scheduled to go 60 minutes and Scott doesn't want to leave until zeroes are on the clock.
"Whenever you have an opportunity to win a football game, it's worth playing. I'm a football player and that's what I do," he said. "So I always look forward to playing football. I totally expect to be out there playing the entire game, getting my feet right, getting my pad level low, getting my reads and my eyes right, and then go in the playoffs and try to do something most people don't think we can do."
Barring something unlikely, the Jets will play either the Colts or the Chiefs next weekend. And they could be back on the field as early as Saturday.
"It's not about the opponent. If we can play the way we're capable of playing on defense and continue to improve like we are on offense and be consistent on special teams, then I'll play anybody," Scott said. "You're going to eventually have to play somebody every week as you continue to play. You're going to play the best of the best of our conference. You can't sneak up on anybody, you can't wish for dream matchups. Whoever they put in front of you, you have to go in with the mindset that you're going to have enough to win."
The hope is Scott and his teammates will look back at December as just a turbulent section of a glorious ride. Encouraged by the play of the offense, Scott knows expectations are high for the defense and he says they're up for the challenge.
"I fully expect and hope I can get a Super Bowl ring. I feel like we're very capable and we have all the talent. No excuses. Everything is in place," he said. "All we have to do is go out and do it. Nobody said a championship was going to be easy. It's always going to be tough. I don't think any champion ever had smooth sailing going through, but I'm willing to go through the storm to come out the other end and see the rainbow."