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Is Rex right about the defense?

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Antonio Cromartie, David Harris and the Jets held the Giants to three points."Will we end up being the best defense in football? I think so," Jets coach Rex Ryan said Tuesday. "I challenge everybody: Put your negatives comments out there and we'll see what happens in the end, because I think our defense is going to be outstanding.

"I wouldn't trade this defense for anybody’s in the league."

Some might mock Ryan, saying he's always predicting No. 1 rankings and Super Bowls, but there are concrete reasons for the optimism. Namely:

Continuity. The Jets return 10 starters, a rarity in the musical chairs world of the NFL. Nine starters have been in Ryan's system for at least two years, meaning there should be fewer communication breakdowns than in past years.

Ryan and coordinator Mike Pettine employ what safety Jim Leonhard likes to call "a thinking man’s defense," predicated on pre-snap adjustments and on-the-fly changes. Cohesiveness is mandatory, especially in the secondary, which finally has some stability. The Jets have 10 defensive backs who have played in the system.

"We're confident we have everything in place to make a strong run again," said Leonhard, who is healthy after missing the last five games of 2010 to a broken leg. "This year we feel like we can open it up and do a lot of things."

Darrelle Revis is here. A year ago, Revis missed the entire preseason because of his contract holdout and he wasn't in top shape when he finally signed. Predictably, he pulled a hamstring that hampered him for the first half of the season. Now, after a full training camp, there's no reason the All-Pro cornerback shouldn't return to his 2009 form.

Revis already is feeling it, saying in a recent television interview, "This year is kind of like a revenge thing. I'm coming back and I'm coming back strong."

With Revis locking down an opponent's No. 1 receiver, it allows Pettine to get more creative with his blitz packages.

Calvin Pace will play opening day. Yes, that qualifies as news. For the Jets' best pass rusher, this will mark his first opening day since 2008. He missed the first four games of 2009 (banned-substance suspension) and the first four last season (broken foot), putting to serious dent in the pass rush.

In fact, the entire starting unit is relatively healthy, which bodes well for the Jets in the season opener against the Dallas Cowboys.