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Jets' defense dominates its offensive counterparts

Jets defensive back Rontez Miles and cornerback Brandon

Jets defensive back Rontez Miles and cornerback Brandon Dixon battle during training camp in Cortland, N.Y. on Wednesday, July 30, 2014. Credit: Hans Pennink

CORTLAND, N.Y. - It was a tale of two practices.

Rex Ryan's defense was everywhere on the field Wednesday morning -- guys were jumping routes, batting down passes and giving the Jets' offense fits for hours. But at the same time, Ryan also was surveying his struggling offense.

While some of his quarterbacks were running for their lives, others were heaving passes to no one in particular. Some of his receivers let easy passes slip through their fingers.

"Obviously, defense had a pretty good day,'' Ryan said. "I've been there when it kind of snowballs into those. One play goes to another, then another, and before you know it, it's a feeding frenzy out there. And that's kind of what it looked like today, for the most part.

"So as a head coach, it's always good news, bad news. The good news: Hey, you got all those turnovers. We've been harping on it, to create turnovers. And we did today,'' added Ryan, whose team had a minus-13 turnover differential last season. "The bad news is, we've got to protect the ball.''

Ryan expressed frustration Tuesday about the offense's sloppy play. But Wednesday's performance was far worse. Demario Davis, the breakout star of the day, jumped the route on a Geno Smith screen pass intended for Clyde Gates and ran it in for a touchdown. (The linebacker nearly added another pick against Smith late in the practice.)

Rookie tight end Jace Amaro struggled mightily in his fourth training-camp practice. He caused a Michael Vick turnover when he slipped while running a route, allowing safety Antonio Allen to intercept the ball. Fourth-stringer Tajh Boyd had the worst performance of all the quarterbacks, throwing three interceptions.

"It needs to get better,'' Ryan said, adding that the team will practice goal-line and short-yardage drills Thursday. " . . . I'm expecting our offense to really pick it up.''

So does his defense.

"You just saw our defense click today,'' said Sheldon Richardson, last year's Defensive Rookie of the Year. "Hopefully, we keep it like that. But I most definitely want the offense to pick it up a little more.''

Although it was expected that the defense would be ahead of the offense this early in camp, the mounting interceptions, fumbles and drops don't sit well with Ryan. But he conceded: "Obviously, the guys over there in the green jerseys don't make it easy on you. That's for sure.''

But despite the defense's strong performances in camp, Davis isn't ready to crown it the NFL's best. During a SiriusXM NFL Radio interview after Tuesday's practice, the third-year linebacker made it clear that this isn't the time for boastful talk.

"Have we been putting in the work to be the best defense?'' Davis said. "I would say no.''

Yesterday, Davis explained he believes the Jets can have the best defense in the league -- but the group has a long way to go. And so does he.

"We're confident in who we are,'' Davis said. "But the work has to precede the glory.''

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