Through the first four weeks, head coach Rex Ryan delivered on his promise to field a smashmouth defense. Behind his patented “K.I.L.L.” philosophy-Keep It Likeable and Learnable-the defense anchored the Jets to a 3-1 start, despite entering the season with a rookie quarterback under center. Ryan’s pressure-filled scheme turned opposing quarterbacks into pinatas and suddenly the unit played with the “swaggerlicious” attitude that linebacker Bart Scott envisioned back in training camp.

The Jets defense adopted its swaggerlicious attitude upon LB Bart Scotts arrival in February (JI Photo).

The Jets’ defense talked a big game, but most importantly, they played one as well. The defensive statistics against a few of the league’s premier offenses (Texans, Patriots, Titans, Saints) were enough to cause sleepless nights for offensive coordinators: 277 yards allowed/game, 14 points allowed/game.

Even Ryan shared trash-talk with Dolphins linebacker Channing Crowder heading into last Monday’s matchup in Miami, but for the first time all season, the Jets’ bark did not match their bite. The Dolphins trashed the Jets for 413 total yards (262 passing, 151 rushing) and notched 21 points in the fourth quarter, en route to a 31-27 victory.

Afterword, a fiery Ryan denounced that they made rookie quarterback Chad Henne (20-26, 241 yards, 2 TD) “look like Dan Marino.”

The Jets were beaten by their rivals in every facet and were clearly embarassed. Their performance on defense was poor enough to warrant a muzzle on the their war-of-words. After all, justifying a “swaggerlicious” attitude and then succeeding to allow 31 points to a quarterback making his second-career start is not the road to take.

Luckily for Ryan and company, the Jets’ defense can quiet its doubters with a strong showing against the beleagured Bills tomorrow. The defense adopted its brash attitude in the moments Ryan stepped onto the podium in Florham Park, N.J. back in January and they have carried it to a first-place tie with the Patriots five weeks into the season.

The refreshing attitude has delivered new life for a team starting a rookie quarterback and has created a relaxed atmosphere around the team. The team has been more vocal through five games under Ryan than it had in three seasons under the ultra-secretive Eric Mangini. Anyone care to recall those days? Anyone?

The defense has placed a target on its back with its hard-nosed attitude and there is little reason for them to change it now. One loss should not send the Jets into hiding, nor should one win anoint them as Super Bowl favorites. Looking at the big picture, they are 3-2 and remain atop the AFC East with the Patriots, who they beat 16-9 last month. Sure they would be 4-1 if they could have ever solved the Dolphins’ wildcat attack, however they just need to take care of business tomorrow and move on.

There is no reason for the Jets to abandon their “swaggerlicious” approach and start panicking now. Then again, a loss to the last-place Bills at home could do just that.

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