A top-5 defense? Not this year

November, 29, 2012
11/29/12
1:41
PM ET
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Remember the feel-good days of training camp, when a lot of people felt the Jets would have another top-tier defense? In fact, Rex Ryan guaranteed they'd finish in the top five for the fourth straight season.

Right now, the Jets are 19th in total defense, so it looks like Ryan's guarantee will end up like so many others -- unfulfilled.

On Thursday, he came close to a concession speech.

"It certainly looks that way right now," he said, when asked about finishing out of the top 5. "I'm not willing to concede anything, though. Maybe we can have some of those great games. I'm not willing to concede it yet because -- you know what? -- I don't know any different. We've got five games left. They'd better be some doozies on defense to get there."

The Jets are allowing 354 yards per game. The Seahawks, currently holding the No. 5 spot, are yielding 309 per game. To drop their total to 309, the Jets would have to limit opponents to a mere 211 yards per game.

They're playing some bad offensive teams, including the Cards (No. 31) and Jaguars (No. 32) in back-to-back weeks, but 211 per game is pie in the sky. The Jets' best game is 281 yards allowed.

In Ryan's career as a head coach and coordinator, he's never had a defense that finished out of the top six.

The Jets have only 17 sacks. Ryan called that total "stunning."

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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