Now the Jets’ D has been put on notice.
Rex Ryan’s heralded unit came into the preseason garnering much of the headlines for its improved speed and super talent.
The weak link, of course, was the offense. Or so we all thought.
As the final minutes ticked away in Sunday’s 48-28 win over the Bills, fans and pundits alike, were left wondering: Could Rex Ryan have been right? Might this end up being his best team ever?
Clearly, it’s far too early for any grandiose projections of the sort. But Sunday’s showing did prove one thing: the offense doesn’t need the defense to carry it.
The Jets’ 48-point output was most in franchise history for a regular season opener, surpassing their previous high of 41 set three times (last at Seattle on August 31, 1997). Yesterday’s point total not only was the most scored under Rex Ryan, but it was the most scored by any NFL team in a regular season opener since 2003 when the 49ers put up 49 points against the Bears on September 7, 2003.
The defense got the ball rolling, of course, courtesy of Darrelle Revis and Kyle Wilson interceptions in the first quarter. Plus Antonio Cromartie turned a Ryan Fitzpatrick pass into a pick-6 in the third. But in the locker room after the game, it was defensive players who were lamenting several missed opportunities on the field.
“The second half was pretty trashy,” linebacker Calvin Pace said with a laugh, referring to the 21 points the defense allowed the Bills to put up in the second half. “But give’em credit. They kept playing. We just got to tackle in those situations and get off the field and not feeling like crap.”
The, he added with a smile: “I guess now we’ve got to learn how to play with a lead now that we have this high-powered offense.”
Outside linebacker Aaron Maybin told me a few days ago that the defense loves nothing more than watching the offense go to work.
So what were his impressions of Sunday’s spanking?
“Beautiful. Beautiful,” he repeated with a smile. “Because that’s the brand of football that Rex has been preaching since Day 1. That’s what we’ve tried to put together since the preseason. We wanted to put together a four-quarter game where offensively, defensively, and on special teams, we played solid.
“Defensively, we had some miscues in the second half, and obviously that’s something we have to go back and clean up. But for us to be able to sit back and watch the offense play as well as they did, it was amazing. It keeps us off the field, it keeps us fresh and when they’re able to put up that many points, it’s going to be hard to beat us.”