Darrelle Revis won't say just yet that this year's defense is the best he's ever been a part of over his nine-year career. But it sounds like it could turn out to be that way, especially if the team's dominating performances from the first quarter of the season continue.
"You have to wait," Revis said this week. "We have a lot of talent, and even when Rex [Ryan] was here, we had some talent. We were mostly top five every year on defense, but I think this team has a little more hot sauce to it."
Hot sauce? It's Revis' way of describing coach Todd Bowles' predilection for blitzing in heavy doses, something that has directly contributed to the team's success. The Jets have the second-ranked defense, giving up an average of just 282.0 yards per game. And their 13.8 points per game allowed is the best in the NFL. The Jets have also produced 13 take-aways in just four games; they have 13 take-aways for the entire season in 2014.
"You have to give credit to coach Bowles and his philosophy and what he brings from a scheme standpoint," Revis said. "Also, we have a lot of speed on defense. We have so many guys that are talented and we have so much team speed."
And that's just in the secondary.
"Don't forget about the front seven, those 'Monstars' up front," said Revis, taking a page from the 1996 sports comedy "Space Jam." "Those 'Monstars' are getting to the quarterback and putting a lot of pressure on him. It's all working together."
Even so, it's still a work in progress, so Revis doesn't want to get too far ahead of himself.
"It's still early in the season," he said. "We have a lot of work ahead of us."
Fair enough. But if the promising early results keep coming, then this defense could very well take the Jets a long way in Bowles' first season in New York.
Blitz here to stay
A hallmark of Rex Ryan's defenses is a liberal use of blitzes. It's the same with Ryan's success in New York -- and then some. Todd Bowles is a big proponent of sending extra rushers; in the Jets' most recent win over the Dolphins, Bowles called a whopping 22 blitzes involving defensive backs.
"There's nothing better than going after the quarterback," linebacker Trevor Reilly said. "With our secondary, you'd be a fool not to blitz."
The key is having shutdown cornerbacks like Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie anchoring the secondary, with nickel corner Buster Skrine adding quality coverage.
"We have such good corners that it makes it hard for teams to throw the ball deep," Reilly said. "So all the money we've paid to the corners and all the trust we have in them allows Todd to call blitzes. So that means there's a little less responsibility and a little more pin your ears back for. That's good, man. That's good for all of us."
The end is near for Peyton
The 5-0 record is not unusual for a team with Peyton Manning as its quarterback. But the Broncos' impressive getaway has little to do with the future Hall of Fame quarterback. While Denver's No. 1-ranked defense has sparkled in the early going, Manning is off to one of the worst starts of his career.
And he has done nothing to convince those of us who were convinced he was on the downside toward the end of last season that he will suddenly transform into the Manning we've been used to seeing all these years.
Through five games, Manning has just six touchdown passes and seven interceptions. His 77.3 rating is nearly 20 points lower than his career average, and the only time he finished a season with a rating under 84 was as a rookie (71.2) in 1998.
Manning chalked up last year's nosedive down the stretch and into the playoffs to a quad injury, but his struggles this season convince us this is it for the 39-year-old quarterback. He just has to hold on the best he can the rest of the way and hope his defense continues to carry the team.
Rodgers making history
Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers needs just 186 passing yards against the Chargers on Sunday to reach 30,000 for his career. He'll get there in record time.
Rodgers has 3,628 passing attempts and can surpass Hall of Famer Johnny Unitas (3,695 attempts) by reaching 30,000 yards in the fewest attempts. Granted, it has become much more of a passing league since the days of Unitas, but that's still some rarefied air for the Packers' star quarterback.
Brady closes in on another mark
Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is off to a sizzling start with 11 touchdown passes and no interceptions in his first four games. If Brady throws four touchdown passes without an interception, he'll join only three other quarterbacks to begin a season with at least 15 touchdowns and no interceptions.
Peyton Manning owns the record of 20, set in 2013. Nick Foles is next with 19 in 2013 with the Eagles, and Milt Plum had 16 in 1960 with the Browns.
Will injuries cost Prince?
Giants cornerback Prince Amukamara is out for up to a month with a partially torn pectoral muscle, the latest in a series of injuries for the former first-round cornerback. It remains to be seen just how much this latest injury will cost him.
Amukamara is in the final year of his four-year, $8.2 million rookie contract, and he's making $6.9 million this season. He heads to unrestricted free agency next season, and while his cover skills make him one of the best young corners in the game, his history of injuries could be a decisive factor in whether the Giants decide to aggressively re-sign him.
Amukamara has played only one 16-game season since being drafted in 2011, missing a combined 20 games in his first four seasons. That number will likely go to 24 before he's ready to return this season.
Quarterbacks rule in 2015
Quarterbacks were historically efficient last year, combining for a leaguewide passer rating of 88.9, the highest in NFL history. The way quarterbacks are playing so far this year, it could be another record-setting season.
Through the first five weeks, quarterbacks combined for a 90.6 passer rating.
With rules increasingly benefiting the passing game, it's not a complete surprise the numbers have gone up in recent years. Since 2010, when quarterbacks combined for an 84.1 passer rating, the mark has gone up each season.
What is Watkins thinking?
Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins picked a very strange time to air his grievances about not being involved enough in Buffalo's passing game. With the team coming off a comeback win over the Titans and with Watkins missing the last two games with a calf injury, he whined to the Buffalo News this week that he's not being targeted enough this season.
"That's what I get mad at, when I don't get looked at," said Watkins, who is expected to play on Sunday against the Bengals. "I can look at film and eyes go straight that way and I'm not getting looked at, at all. That's when I get frustrated. When I have one-on-one coverage, go to me. I don't care what's going on over there. I don't care if he's open. When I get one on one, just target me."
Channeling his inner Terrell Owens, Watkins went on to complain some more and suggested that he should be targeted 20 times a game. This for a team with a first-year starter in Taylor and an offense that is very much a work in progress.
That kind of me-first mentality isn't what the Bills need right now, especially going into a game against the unbeaten Bengals.
Sorry, Sammy, you've lost us on this one.