FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - This is the defense Darrelle Revis always envisioned.
Even during training camp, when he and his teammates were still getting acclimated to their new coach and the intricate schemes he brought along from his days in Baltimore, the Jets' shutdown cornerback knew this defense would be a force to be reckoned with.
And after a rocky midseason stretch, that's exactly what it's become.
"Last year, we sucked on defense," Revis said, laughing. "You've got to have attitude for a defense. And I think since Rex got this job, him bringing that Baltimore swagger and Baltimore attitude, it's rubbing off on us. It's making us play aggressive and it's making us make plays."
The Jets lead the NFL in points allowed (16.2), total defense (264.7 yards) and passing defense (160.4). And during their three-game winning streak, they've allowed a league-low 12.2 percent of third-down conversions (5-for-41) and have stopped the last 24 third-down conversion attempts.
"As we like to put it, we're kind of on a graduate level now," said defensive end Marques Douglas, a former Raven. "Earlier on, we had the training wheels on a little bit because we didn't know whether we could play a certain coverage, or be so creative up front. And now, we're doing things we didn't do in Baltimore until way later on."
The players have not only learned Ryan's schemes, they've come to embrace them. And as a result, several players, like defensive end Shaun Ellis, safety Jim Leonhard and linebacker Bryan Thomas, are calling this Jets defense the best unit they've ever played on.
"They are all over the place," Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez said earlier this week. "They're coming, they're blitzing . . . they're just real solid all over . . . It's going to be a challenge for us."
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine credited the players' familiarity with the new system - and each other - for the improvement.
"We would rather be the winningest defense in the NFL," he said. "But . . . it's nice to know where we're ranked . . . And when the season's over, we hope we're still up there. That would be quite an accomplishment for our guys."
Sure, their last three wins have come against teams with losing records - Carolina (5-8), Buffalo (5-8) and Tampa Bay (1-12). But that doesn't negate what the defense has done on the field, safety Kerry Rhodes said.
"To hold any NFL offense for the past three weeks to just one touchdown is pretty good, whoever it is," he said. "If those three teams built our confidence and got us to where we are now, that's fine with us. We'll take that."