Young pass-rushers bolster Jets' defense

December, 11, 2012
12/11/12
1:03
PM ET
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets' offense may have its struggles, but the defense appears to have gotten back on track. The Jets have allowed just 16 points over the past two games.

On Sunday in Jacksonville, the Jets (6-7) held the Jaguars to two third-down conversions in 15 attempts. Coach Rex Ryan credited young linemen Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples specifically for learning on the job.

[+] EnlargeQuinton Coples
Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesQuinton Coples notched one of the Jets' three sacks of Chad Henne on Sunday.
"I think it starts with our pass rush," Ryan said. "The guys up front, especially Muhammad, are really doing a great job beating one-on-one [protections] and actually having the running backs a lot of times as well. That's really where it starts, being very mobile with our coverages and really running our package on third down."

Coples, a rookie, had two tackles and a sack in the 17-10 win over the Jags.

"Going from college to the NFL is definitely a lot different," Coples said. "I don't know if you can compare the two [in terms of] the level of intensity and the different levels of play. I'm still learning, still grasping everything and I think everything is falling into place."

Up next for the Jets is a "Monday Night Football" matchup with the Titans in Nashville, Tenn. The Titans (4-9) lost a tight one 27-23 to the surging Colts on Sunday. A Jets win would get them to .500 and keep them in the running for a wild-card berth, which seemed a long shot given the team's struggles this season.

Despite the team's two straight wins, defensive lineman Mike DeVito isn't getting too excited.

"It's like, 'Oh, one loss, it's the end of the world' and, 'One win, they're going to win everything,'" he said of life in the New York market. "It's kind of the way the atmosphere is around here, and you have to recognize that and realize that the worst thing you can do is ... believe that either way. You just have to continue each week to be consistent and get better."

Ryan has refused to talk playoffs until the team gets to .500, but he did use the term "Pro Bowl" in conjunction with the second-year Wilkerson on Monday, something the lineman downplayed.

"I'm proud to be a Jet," Wilkerson said. "They brought me here. I'm going to continue to play like a Jet and do my best for the defense."
Jane McManus has covered New York sports since 1998 and began covering football just before Brett Favre's stint with the Jets. Her work has appeared in Newsday, USA Today, The Journal News and The New York Times. Follow Jane on Twitter.

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