The four teams that played in the AFC and NFC Championship Games were very different. One was quarterbacked by a rookie, one by a grizzled veteran. Some liked to pass, some liked to run. The Pittsburgh Steelers have five Super Bowl titles, the Arizona Cardinals are going to the big game for the first time.
There was one common thread running among the teams, however. All of them played an agressive, attacking defensive style of defense bent on forcing mistakes from the offense. There was no bending but not breaking and no reading and reacting going on in Phoenix or Pittsburgh, just a lot of pressure on the quarterback. One of those defenses, the one from Baltimore, was coached by Rex Ryan who will be named the head coach of the Jets on Monday.
Given his history as a coach and his surname, Buddy Ryan's his dad, it's a safe bet that the scheme will be travelling up 95 with him to the Jets. That's a good thing after watching Bob Sutton's defense spend most of the season allowing offenses to kill them with a thousand cuts. The defense that would make plays when they unleashed the blitz, see the Arizona, St. Louis and second Buffalo game, but, more often than not, was wrapped up and kept passive.
Ryan can't let that happen again this season. There are going to be growing pains, to be sure. The Jets linebackers bear no resemblence to Ray Lewis and Bart Scott, and, talented as Kerry Rhodes may be, there's only one Ed Reed in the game of football. But Arizona proved you don't need Lewis and Scott to play a pressure game and no one is going to mistake Ryan Clark of Pittsburgh for Reed.
The defensive philosophy shift must be complete and it must be immediate for it to be successful. Ryan can't look at the personnel and stop short of full implementation, even if it means struggles out of the gate. We've seen where being cautious brought the Jets, now it's time to flip the switch and see what happens when the power's on.