D.J. Reed has set an extremely high bar for the New York Jets' defense.
And the veteran cornerback believes the talented group will leave its mark.
On the field. And in the history books.
“I’m very confident,” he said during a video call Monday. “I think we have the potential to be the best defense in the NFL. And honestly, I think we could be historical. Not just the best defense in the league, but I think we can have an historical defense in the league like the 85-86 Bears, like the L.O.B. 2013.”
That Chicago defense was led by coordinator Buddy Ryan and included future Pro Football Hall of Famers Mike Singletary, Richard Dent and Dan Hampton, and is largely considered one of the best, if not the greatest, in NFL history.
And Seattle's “Legion of Boom” was the Seahawks' outstanding secondary in the early 2010s, led by Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas.
“I think we could be that dominant,” Reed said, “if we put all the things together and we just focus on the now and we’re deliberate and everyone plays up to their potential, I think the sky’s the limit for us.”
Defensive end John Franklin-Myers said he “100%” agrees with Reed, and the two said there’s a “sense of urgency" — starting with the season opener next Monday night against Buffalo — to perform at a high level on both sides of the ball because of how the roster has been constructed.
Bringing in quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a major piece of that, of course. So is strengthening other areas with the sights set on not only ending the NFL’s longest active playoff drought at 12 seasons but making a deep postseason run.
“Why not speak your goals?” Franklin-Myers said. “We’re not afraid to sit here and go out on a limb and say that we want to win a Super Bowl, we want to go out there and we want to be the best defense in the NFL.
“If those aren’t your dreams, then you’re in the wrong place.”
Reed attributed his assessment of the defense to the overall talent, as well as the work of coordinator Jeff Ulbrich — “I think we have the best D.C.”
The Jets were ranked No. 4 last season in overall defense, thanks in large part to the cornerback duo of Reed and Sauce Gardner, the AP Defensive Rookie of the Year, and All-Pro defensive tackle Quinnen Williams. The key members of that unit are back, giving New York the confidence it can be even better than a year ago.
Franklin-Myers said one area that can take the Jets from top-5 to No. 1 is improving on defensive takeaways. They had 16 last season, 29th in the NFL.
“We have a chance when you look at the New York Jets’ symbol when you look at us and you know you’re going to play us, you understand this is a defensive organization and you try treat it as such," Franklin-Myers said. “Everybody on defense has proven themselves. We all have played at a high level. We all play well together.
"And third year in this scheme, you kind of get that confidence, you get that swagger, you kind of know, understand it and we all know what we’re capable of. And now it’s time to go out there and execute it and do it.”
Linebacker C.J. Mosley agreed, but took a more measured approach to his teammates mentioning the current Jets defense in the same breath as the '85 Bears.
“I mean, that’s a pretty big comparison,” a smiling Mosley said, adding that the Jets have a long road ahead of them.
“If one of our brothers do say that," he said, "now we have to go out there and put on a show.”
“BAD APPLE” TURNOVER
Center Connor McGovern has been with the Jets since 2020 and seen many teammates come and go.
He likes the vibe he's feeling in the locker room, crediting general manager Joe Douglas for putting together the current roster.
“It’s been a complete 180," McGovern said. "There’s been some good players that have left, but they’ve done a really good job of getting rid of the bad apples. There’s not, I don’t know how you want to call it, a cancer or a bad apple or somebody rotting the bucket in the locker room. Every single player in the locker room is a good person and a great football player, and I think that’s extremely important.”
NOTES: Coach Robert Saleh said RB Breece Hall (knee) didn't practice Monday, but it was just a scheduled maintenance day. Saleh wouldn't call it “snap counts,” but said the Jets will be “smart” with how they use Hall and Dalvin Cook (shoulder) during the early part of the season. ... The players elected team captains: Rodgers on offense, Mosley on defense and Justin Hardee on special teams. The coaches will also select a captain to join the trio on game days.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl
Dennis Waszak Jr, The Associated Press