Dan Leberfeld: Yes, it is. Though it might be a little unfair to say they copied it since Rex had so much to do with the invention of the system. He took a lot of his father's core philosophies and made them even better. I don't know what kind of head coach he's going to be over the long run. That remains to be seen. But it's become quite clear after looking at his work in Baltimore, and in the first four games with the Jets, the man is a defensive genius. First of all, they have been playing dominant defense over the first month without their best pass rusher Calvin Pace, and with his replacement, Vernon Gholston, doing very little.
For them to go into New Orleans, and hold Drew Brees to no touchdown passes, and under 200 yards, without starting cornerback (Lito Sheppard) and their nickel back (Donald Strickland), is another testament to Rex's defensive brilliance. I know it might sound like I'm overrating him, but this is how I feel. The man is a defensive genius.
Q: Calvin Pace returns from his NFL suspension this week; how much of a difference will he make?
DL: He will make a huge difference. He's much, much better than the man filling in for him, Vernon Gholston. Also, he will be so fired up coming back that I expect him to play like a man possessed. He's a good guy who made a mistake, and he feels he let his teammates down, and he wants to make it up to them. He could have made a difference in the Saints game, but he couldn't play, while the Saints cheaters could (Will Smith and Charles Grant). That might have been the tipping point because Smith and Grant wreaked havoc, and the Jets pass rush was average with Pace on the sidelines.
Now don't get me wrong, Pace isn't DeMarcus Ware as a pass rusher, but he's the best the Jets have, and they are giddy to have him back.
Q: Kris Jenkins was a stud for most of last season until he ran out of gas in December; how has he been playing?
DL: Jenkins contributions don't show up on the stat sheet. He often finishes with one tackle or in that vicinity, but he's such a wrecking ball in the middle, and creates opportunities for other players. The two men playing behind him,. inside linebackers Bart Scott and David Harris, are both have outstanding seasons, and Jenkins has something to do with that. You can't block him with just one man. He requires a double team, and that frees up opportunites for linebackers and his fellow defensive linemen to make plays. Jenkins felt Eric Mangini ran him into the ground last year in practice. Rex Ryan is taking a smarter approach with the 360-pound nose tackle who is now 30. He's giving him a lot of respites and not overpracticing him.
Jenkins is the key to the Jets defense.
Q: Just how good is CB Darrelle Revis?
DL: A top three corner. The proof is in the pudding. In three of the first four games he shut down Houston's Andre Johnson., New England's Randy Moss and New Orleans' Marques Colston. Against Tennessee, since they don't have a true No. 1 receiver, he moved around more. He has great technique, outstanding athletic ability and is very bright. One reason he's so mature for a guy his age is all the tutoring he got from his uncle, Sean Gilbert, growing up in Pittsburgh. Gilbert, the former NFL defensive end, helped groom his nephew into a heck of a football player. He's also has a great temperament for the position — he's very even-keeled, and not a lot bothers him.
Q: How has the Jets return game looked so far?
DL: Middle of the road. I would say the banning of the wedge has hurt the team's kick return game. Leon Washington used to view the wedge like an offensive line, and pretended he was running from the line of scrimmage. But now, the three-man wedge outlawed, he's still finding his way. As for the punt return game, Washington platoons with Jim Leonhard. Washington generally fields punts that are being kicked from deep in the other team's territory, and anything going toward the end zone, Leonhard handles. Washington is a better kick returner than punt returner, and Leonhard has better hands, so anything in dangerous territory, Leonhard takes care of.