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Rex Ryan's Getting Defensive About His Defense

Numbers and eyes lead to two different conclusions about Jets defense

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    You never thought the day would come when you'd feel the need to stand up and tell Rex Ryan to take his nose out of a book and focus on what he sees on the field.

    That day came Monday, however, when Ryan went to the stat book in an attempt to defend the play of his defense in recent weeks. Ryan admitted the general need to get better, but then came up with an argument for why this year's unit is better than the one that was keeping the Jets alive at this point in 2009.

    "We’re seventh in the league right now.  Compared to this time last year, I’ve got all the stats and you guys can look at them.  The only thing that we haven’t improved on at this time last year was red zone defense which is important, without question.  It’s actually red zone defense and red zone offense, but everything else we’re ahead of at this point last year."

    The total numbers can tell whatever story you want them to tell, but they pale in comparison to watching Colt McCoy storm down the field to tie the game in Cleveland and Matt Schaub lead a 20-point turnaround in the fourth quarter on Sunday. Those are the moments when a defense that is playing well stands up and shuts the door. Instead, they've blown assignments and missed tackles to put the Jets into dangerous situations.

    Pass defense has been the biggest problem all season. Whether it is because of his holdout or not, Darrelle Revis has been less effective this season and the team still struggles to stop slot receivers and tight ends. The most glaring issue, however, is the complete lack of pass rush whether the Jets rush four or bring the house. Quarterbacks have plenty of time to survey the field and it is no surprise that they are taking advantage.

    By now we accept that Ryan is a relentlessly positive voice who sticks up for his players under every circumstance. It's an admirable quality in a coach, but we're hopeful that his private words are bit sharper than his public commentary.

    The only statistic that anyone should bring up is the eight Jets wins because everything else can always get better.  

    Josh Alper is a writer living in New York City and is a contributor to FanHouse.com and ProFootballTalk.com in addition to his duties for NBCNewYork.com. You can follow him on Twitter.

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