In 2022, the New York Jets defense was ranked fourth in football and had several Pro-Bowl or All-Pro players. Entering the 2023 season, last year’s marks may not be good enough for some of their top veteran talents.
“I’m very confident. I think we have the potential to be the best defense in the NFL and be historical,” cornerback D.J. Reed said Monday afternoon. “I think we can have a historic defense like the ’85 Bears, the Legion of Boom in 2013. I think we could be that dominant if we put all the things together.”
Reed’s comparison to some of the most dominant defenses in NFL history will sure to raise some eyebrows. New York returns nine of 11 starters from last year’s unit and has improved their depth at several key positions.
Still, there’s a reason why the Jets’ veteran corner is so high on his unit this year.
“I think we have the best defensive coordinator (Jeff Ulbrich). He does a great job with situational football. He’s always trying to figure out little things to get better at. We know how to get things figured out in the back end,” Reed explained.
Comparisons to some of the historic defenses in NFL history are hard to make with the ever-changing rules of the NFL. Despite that, with the way Reed and fellow starting corner Sauce Gardner played in 2022, it’s hard not to draw comparisons to other secondaries in history like Richard Sherman in Seattle, or the Bears in the late 80s. A reason for that kind of confidence though, comes from their preparation.
“He (Gardner) is someone I love watching. I’ve learned a lot of things from him. We are very humble. We have the humility about us to want to get better,” Reed said.
Reed’s comments quickly caught fire within the Jets clubhouse. His sentiments were echoed by pass-rushing dynamo John Franklin-Myers who added “When you think of the New York Jets, we are a defensive-minded organization.”
A more measured approach was quickly followed by the newest captain of the defense, C.J. Mosley. The five-time Pro Bowl linebacker made sure that having high expectations was fine, but the team would need to back it up.
“Luckily, I don’t have to worry about (D.J. and JFM). I know they’ll back up their game and do the right things after practice. When one of our brothers does say that, you have to go out there and put on a show,” Mosley explained.
Getting better is one thing entirely from making comparisons to historic defenses in NFL history. Whether it’s the ’85 Bears, the early 2010 Seahawks, or even the ’70s Steelers, there is a long way to go before the Jets earn their stripes as a historic defense.
It isn’t stopping their top veteran players from setting up the expectations for this season though.