There are a litany of statistics that show the improvement of the New York Jets' defense, compared to last year, but one number really jumps out:
Six -- the number of interceptions.
Not only is six in four games a very good start, but it equals their total from 2014. Why the dramatic change? Well, having better players helps. Darrelle Revis has two of the six picks, and last year he was helping the New England Patriots to a fourth Super Bowl championship.
But it's not just Revis. Let's take a closer look at the interceptions. All six came on blitzes, including five that hurried the quarterback into bad throws. Two came on third down, two on fourth down -- the money downs.
You may have heard, Todd Bowles and his defensive coordinator, Kacy Rodgers, like to blitz a lot. In fact, they've blitzed a league-high 85 times on pass plays, according to ESPN Stats & Information. It means they've dialed up pressure on 57 percent of the dropbacks, holding the opponent to 34-for-81 passing (42 percent), with six interceptions, three sacks and two touchdowns.
The Jets' blitzes are like snowflakes; no two are the same. An inside look at the six interceptions shows exactly what we mean:
1. Marcus Williams interception, versus Cleveland Browns: The Jets rushed seven out of a new personnel package that included three inside linebackers and one outside 'backer, rookie Lorenzo Mauldin, who rushed from a three-point stance. Demario Davis, usually inside, rushed from the outside and pressured Johnny Manziel into a bad throw.
2. Calvin Pryor versus Indianapolis Colts: A lot of things happened on this play to confuse Andrew Luck. They put seven at the line of scrimmage, but only five rushed. Quinton Coples and Leger Douzable dropped into coverage, with cornerback Buster Skrine coming on a slot blitz to force an errant pass that was tipped to Pryor.
3. Revis versus Colts: The Jets overloaded to Luck's left, leaving Muhammad Wilkerson isolated on the right tackle. It wasn't a fair fight. Wilkerson beat his man cleanly to pressure Luck. Arriving at the same time was Davis, who came from the backside on a five-man rush and delivered a hit. Revis made a terrific catch, losing a shoe in the process.
4. Marcus Gilchrist versus Colts: This, too, was all about Wilkerson. He lined up over the right guard and looped around the center into the left-guard gap, blasting Luck just as he released the ball on a five-man rush. Gilchrist made a nice grab downfield, toe-tapping on the sideline.
5. Revis versus Miami Dolphins: The Jets stacked eight players in the box on a fourth down from their 9-yard line, threatening to send the house at Ryan Tannehill. In the end, only six rushed, with Wilkerson dropping into coverage. Calvin Pace and Leonard Williams collapsed the pocket up the middle, causing Tannehill to throw off his back foot. Revis made a diving catch in the end zone.
6. Williams versus Dolphins: They rushed six, including new safety Dion Bailey, who replaced the injured Pryor. For a change, the Dolphins blocked it nicely, but Tannehill -- perhaps thinking he was facing his own scout-team defense -- panicked and threw the ball into tight coverage. After getting pounded for most of the day, Tannehill may have been seeing ghosts.