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Jets Pass Rush Still MIA

The search for sacks drags on

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    The Jets need to see more of this in 2011.

    Sunday night was a pretty good one for the Jets.

    Plaxico Burress showed that he might wind up being worth the $3 million bet the Jets placed on him as a free agent and Mark Sanchez continued to display a grasp of the offense that eluded him in his first three seasons.

    The starting defense played without two starters, but still forced a pair of turnovers and did more than enough to put the team in a position to win the game.

    It was a step forward from the first preseason game and no one got hurt, which is about all you can hope for at this point in the schedule. Well, almost all you can hope for.

    It would have been nice to see the Jets generate some kind of a pass rush against the Bengals at what is now known as MetLife Stadium on Sunday night. As has been the case throughout Rex Ryan's tenure as the head coach, the Jets failed to create any kind of consistent pressure on the pocket unless they sent the house on a blitz.

    That didn't hurt them on Sunday night because Andy Dalton is about as ready to be an NFL  quarterback as Kim Kardashian. Better quarterbacks aren't going to wildly overthrow receivers when given hours of time in the pocket, however, something the Jets have learned first-hand over the last two seasons.

    Now, it is easy to agree with that and shrug your shoulders and wonder what the big deal is all at the same time. The Jets defense has played pretty well over the last two years and the team has gone to the AFC Championship Game both seasons, so what's the big deal if they have to blitz to get to the quarterback?

    The big deal is that the lack of sustained pressure is part of the reason why the Jets have played six playoff games on the road over the last two years and an even bigger reason why they fell one game short of the Super Bowl both times.

    As stout as the defense has been, they haven't forced the kind of game-changing plays that can overwhelm opponents and take pressure off of the offense.

    Shaun Ellis was the only guy on last year's team who could consistently find a way to the quarterback on his own. He's gone, rookie Muhammad Wilkerson hasn't shown that ability yet and the team didn't bring in any one else who seems to posess the secret sauce that the Jets need. 

    The Jets know this. That's why they signed Aaron Maybin, who did record a sack against Cinci in garbage time, and that's why they gave Vernon Gholston so many chances to become a regular, no matter what revisionist history Gholston is trying to peddle from his new (temporary?) home in Chicago.

    There are enough pieces in place for the Jets to be successful without a significantly better pass rush this season. If it appears, though, the sky may really be the limit for how high the Jets can fly.

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City. You can follow him on Twitter and he is also a contributor to Pro Football Talk.

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