Good Morning
Good Morning
SportsColumnistsNeil Best

Biggest takeaway: Jets' defense is for real

New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) celebrates

New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) celebrates an interception with defensive back Buster Skrine (41) and free safety Calvin Pryor (25) in the second half of an NFL game against the Indianapolis Colts in Indianapolis, Monday, Sept. 21, 2015. Credit: AP / Darron Cummings


'Wow, coach, wow," Woody Johnson said as Todd Bowles approached him outside the visiting locker room at Lucas Oil Stadium late Monday night.

Then the owner of the Jets locked his first-year coach in an embrace.

For at least this one night, Johnson spoke for the fans, who surely were saying "wows" of their own out there in TV Land after a 20-7 victory over the Colts that stamped the Jets as a legitimate team to watch early in this NFL season.

But the punctuation mark came a couple of minutes later, when Darrelle Revis, the wayward cornerback who returned home this season, saw Johnson and gave him a hug of his own.

That was as it should have been on a night when the Jets' defense flummoxed the Colts and their star quarterback, Andrew Luck, to the tune of five takeaways -- three of them by Revis on two fumble recoveries and an interception.

The Jets, who had 13 takeaways all of last season, now have 10 in two games -- a great path to starting 2-0.

Ten! "That's crazy," linebacker David Harris said.

Said cornerback Buster Skrine, "I think they had 13 last year, total. We're about to crush that."

Somewhere in Western New York, Rex Ryan presumably spent Monday still trying to figure out what hit him Sunday when Tom Brady and the Patriots mercilessly rained pass completions on his Bills' defense.

But here in Indy, the Jets' new defensive-minded coach was orchestrating a tour de force that employed some of the approach Ryan's Bills had used on opening day in beating the Colts, 27-14.

They blitzed Luck into key mistakes, taking advantage of their faith in a vastly improved secondary.

Not too shabby, considering that on Friday Bowles described defending Luck as "a nightmare."

His passer rating Monday night: 52.8.

"They were flying around," Bowles said of his defenders. "They're starting to buy into the system, they're getting to know what each other can do and as a result they're playing faster. We're trying to make plays and get turnovers. That's the easiest way to win games."

Not that it was perfect. The Colts did have 343 yards of total offense and moved the ball well at times, but they shot themselves in the foot repeatedly, especially on a fumble by Frank Gore at the Jets' 1-yard line on which he lost the ball without being hit.

Revis recovered it, naturally.

Did Harris sense Luck getting frustrated? "I'm pretty sure he was frustrated because things weren't going his way," he said, in an understatement.

The offense did just enough to secure the victory, especially on a long drive that resulted in a 15-yard touchdown pass from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Brandon Marshall that extended a narrow 10-7 lead in the fourth quarter.

It should have been easier than that against a Colts defense whose corners were devastated by injuries, losing the last starter standing, Vontae Davis, to a concussion during the game.

It is evident, as many suspected entering the season, that if this team is to excel, it will do so led by its defense. So far so good.

"It's just been real gratifying to see, man, to see it kind of come together," said linebacker Calvin Pace, the team's elder statesman.

Said safety Marcus Gilchrist, whose interception of Luck ended any hope of a late comeback, "We are just going to keep doing what we do and keep our foot on the gas pedal."

There are numerous potential pitfalls ahead, but compared to many teams in the league, including the 0-2 Colts and the 0-2 team that shares MetLife Stadium with the Jets, this has been a dream start.

"It was really fun; it was great," Revis said as the giddy visiting locker room began to empty out. "It was 'Monday Night Football.' It doesn't get better than this."

Or, to put it another way: Wow!

New York Sports