New York Jets linebacker, Calvin Pace, has been an integral part of Rex Ryan's defense since his addition to the team in 2008. Pace is entering the final year of his contract, set to expire at the end of 2013. While the former Wake Forest Demon Deacon saw his production slip in the 2011 season, Pace will be counted on for a bounceback season with his payday on the line.
Drafted by the Arizona Cardinals with the 18th overall pick, Pace became a standout in the desert. In five seasons with the Cardinals, Pace played in 67 games, starting in 38 of them. He finished his stint with 186 tackles, 14 sacks and 11 passes deflected.
The Georgia native signed with New York during the 2008 free agency period. His debut season with the Green-and-White saw him record 80 total tackles, including seven quarterback sacks. The following year, Pace set his career high in sacks with eight despite missing the first four games of the season due to a suspension. Last season, Pace only reached the QB five times, his lowest total since joining the team. This season, he has made it his mission to make life very difficult for opposing teams.
"I think a big thing for us is (to) get turnovers," said Pace after practice. "We need to start fast defensively."
Pace understands that the defense plays a big role in setting the pace for the rest of the game. In his mind, it's the defense's responsibility to get the offense into the best field position possible so that Mark Sanchez and the struggling offensive line have the best possible chance to score.
"Ideally, I'd love them to go out and score 40, 50 (points) a game. I don't know. I don't play offense, I don't know what would be the cutoff for that, Pace uttered. "But, they'll be fine. "If they do have some hiccups along the way, then that's what we're here for."