FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan's Jets pride themselves on defense first. After the embarrassment of Thursday's 49-19 loss to the Patriots, Ryan's defensive players were talking about how they need to talk to one another better.
"Communication is always a big part of defense and it needs to be there every week, week in and week out," safety Yeremiah Bell said Monday. "If it's not, you blow coverages, you give up big plays and that's kind of what happened to us. Communication is important, it can't just be there certain Sundays."
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Or Thursdays. The clear culprit on Shane Vereen's 83-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter Thanksgiving night was veteran Bart Scott, who lined up too far inside and got a slight rub from Wes Welker that freed Vereen on an innocent-looking wheel route. The short pass from Brady turned into the longest touchdown reception against the Jets this season
That score began the three-touchdown run in a 52-second span, turning an important division game into a national punch line, but there were other problems for the Jets' defense that allowed 475 yards, the most in Ryan's four seasons as coach. Ellis Lankster let Welker free in the end zone on the Pats' first score, and no one stayed deep on Brady's 56-yard TD strike to Julian Edelman.
All that happened in the second quarter, leaving the Jets' defense in tatters after a couple of weeks in which things seemed to be getting better.
"It's disappointing all the way around, obviously not up to our standards," tackle Mike DeVito said. "We had seen progression for a while and to take a step back is difficult, especially in a game like that."
For Antonio Cromartie, the leader of the Jets' secondary with Darrelle Revis out, the mistakes aren't just limited to lack of communication. There are key penalties -- three on the Pats' first touchdown drive -- and tackling issues, as well.
"It's not that we need to get better, we've got to eliminate the mistakes, we've got to eliminate the turnovers, on defense, when we commit penalties, we give up the most points after penalties to an offense," Cromartie said. "That's something you've got to eliminate."
Cromartie is well aware that the Jets' defense is the spark for the team, and the unit's inconsistency is a main reason the team is 4-7 and heading toward irrelevance.
"Up and down, it's something you can't have as a defense," Cromartie said. "Especially when your offense is struggling at times. We've got to be the backbone of this team."