Question the D? Go ahead, Rex dares you

September, 17, 2012
9/17/12
6:51
PM ET
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- One of the characteristics of a Rex Ryan-coached defense is that it doesn't take long to get humming in the regular season. Look at the points-allowed total after two games from 2009 to 2011 -- 16, 24 and 27, respectively.

This season: 55.

Cause for concern?

"Hey, bet against us, that's all I'm saying," Ryan said Monday, defiantly. "Bet against us and we'll see where it ends up. I know where it's going to end up. I tell you every year, it's the same thing."

He's right about that. Ryan always predicts a top-five finish in total defense, and the Jets haven't finished outside the top five in his three seasons.

That said, this defense still is a work in progress. In Week 1, the Jets allowed a league-high 195 rushing yards to the Bills. On Sunday, they stopped the run, but got torched by Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger, who passed for 275 yards and two TDs -- without star CB Darrelle Revis (concussion).

"You have to give credit to Pittsburgh, but if you're trying to be a great team, you can only be tipping your hat to so many teams," LB Aaron Maybin said. "You've got to find a way to be the better team. That's the point we're at right now. We know we're a talented team -- we've always felt that way -- but we have to prove it."

LOOKING BACK: After reviewing the tape of Sunday's 27-10 loss, Ryan reiterated his postgame theme, saying the game was decided on third down. The Jets went 4-for-12, the Steelers 8-for-15 ... Two positives from Ryan's perspective: The offense had no turnovers and the pass protection was "efficient." The Jets allowed two sacks in 29 dropbacks, and the second sack was a game-ending, garbage-time sack ... Obviously, the perimeter passing game was non-existent, as Mark Sanchez completed only six passes to wide receivers. Why didn't he throw to his backs? He didn't complete any passes to the running backs. Ryan defended Sanchez's decision making, saying there was only one play in which he felt Sanchez should've thrown to the check-down option.

HURRY UP AND LEAVE: Curious sequence at the end of the first half. The Jets got the ball at their 31, with 57 seconds remaining and two timeouts at their disposal. There was more than enough time to drive for a score, but Ryan and coordinator Tony Sparano decided to eat it. They ran two plays and headed to the locker room, down 13-10.

Ryan said they would've taken a more aggressive approach if they had popped the first run. Ultimately, they decided to play conservatively because they were getting the ball to start the second half. You can't help but wonder if the bad memory from the 2010 AFC Championship Game -- a strip sack returned for a TD -- factored into Ryan's decision.

ODDS AND ENDS: Rookie DE Quinton Coples played only 24 percent of the snaps (16 of 63 plays). Against one of the league's biggest offensive lines, Ryan wanted bigger bodies up front. That's why DT Mike DeVito got more playing time ... Is there another left-guard competition? No, it appears that Vladimir Ducasse will continue to spell Matt Slauson. Ryan said Ducasse has "earned the right" to play ... Ryan exonerated CB Antonio Cromartie for surrendering a 37-yard TD pass to Mike Wallace. He said Cromartie had good coverage, but misplayed the ball in the air. Seriously.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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