FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - As the team's sack leader a season ago, Shaun Ellis knows a thing or two about getting after the quarterback.
So the 10th-year end is a bit surprised that the Jets' supposedly vaunted defense is tied for last with Jacksonville for the fewest sacks, four in five games.
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"Kind of, yeah," Ellis said Thursday, "considering as much pressure as we've had on the quarterback. But sacks are one of those tricky things. You'll get them for a minute, now all of a sudden they'll disappear for a minute, then you'll get back on a roll again."
The Jets haven't generated much pressure these last two games, not the way they did the first two weeks when they harassed the Texans' Matt Schaub and then recorded what Rex Ryan counted as 21 hits on Patriots gunslinger Tom Brady. Teams are using more of a max-protect look, keeping extra blockers in to thwart the Jets' array of blitzes.
However, with the Bills and their patchwork offensive line up Sunday at the Meadowlands, this could be the perfect opportunity for the Jets to get their pass-rushing mojo back.
Rookie Jamon Meredith has been lining up at right tackle during the Bills' practices this week, preparing to replace Jonathan Scott (sprained ankle).
Meredith was plucked off the Packers' practice squad. If he starts Sunday, he will be the Bills' third right tackle this season and create their fourth offensive line combination.
Doesn't seem to matter much to Ryan, though.
"They remind me of the old Green Bay Packers, Fuzzy Thurston, Jerry Kramer and Forrest Gregg," Ryan said. "That's how we're looking at this team right now. We haven't gotten to the passer the last two weeks, so it's not about the teams that we're playing. It's about us. We've got to do a great job on the practice field working our pass-rush techniques."
They also need to have a much better showing at halting the run, which they say will help immensely in pressuring the quarterback. The Jets are ranked No. 19 in rushing defense, surrendering 110 yards a game and 4.2 yards per carry. In the last two weeks, they've been gouged at the line of scrimmage, allowing an average of 152 rushing yards.
"The main thing is we have to stop the run," linebacker Bryan Thomas said. "If you can't stop the run, how do you expect to get to the passer? That's the main thing and that's on everybody on the defense. So if guys can run the ball on you and keep you off balance, of course you are going to have trouble."
Besides shoring up their porous run defense, making more plays on first down also is paramount to increasing those sack numbers. The Jets haven't been putting opponents in many second- or third-and-longs, so quarterbacks don't have to take deep five-step drops and instead can make quick reads and get rid of the ball.
"We do have to make some more plays up front," defensive end Marques Douglas said. "We're not going to shy away from that . . . But if we keep on hunting, it's going to come."