Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kudos to the Jets' defensive line

Mike DeVito has barely gotten any recognition for the work he does from the general public, but he is a dynamic run stopper and effort guy. His non-stop motor will be put to the test Sunday with Shaun Ellis nursing a broken hand. Ellis is expected to play, but he will have a cast on his left hand. He'll have surgery next week, win or lose, since the extra week before the Super Bowl would be enough time for it to heal in case the Jets beat the Colts.

Ellis is the longest tenured Jet, having lasted here since 2000, and his passion to play in this game is evident, unlike the man drafted one spot behind him, John Abraham. After a disruptive wild card game over Cincinnati, Ellis was reduced to a rotational guy due to the injury. One play in particular, he had Philip Rivers in his grasp but couldn't wrap up due to the cast. Rex Ryan said they would find a way for him to play with a more workable cast. In any case DeVito will see a lot more snaps.

So will Marques Douglas, a versatile run-stopper with a knack for making plays in the backfield. He's not a big playmaker, but he's a steady performer who does his job, holds his gap, and stops the run well. He's a Ryan guy from Baltimore, and he's been a great under-the-radar signing for this defense.

Sione Pouha is another player who has stepped up in the absence of Kris Jenkins. Most people didn't think the Jets could replace Jenkins if he went down, but what Pouha lacks in pass rushing ability, he has more than made up for in his ability to man the middle and stuff the run. Pouha is almost irreplaceable for this team without Jenkins, and he is coming off a five tackle performance against the Chargers. Howard Green, a 320-pound nose tackle whom the Jets released earlier in the year, sees time as well, and he's been effective in spurts.

With most teams, I would have more defensive linemen to talk about. But the Jets often dress just five linemen, instead relying on a multitude of looks involving blitzing defensive backs and linebackers. The hulking Ropati Pitoitua is a project who was dressed for eight games this season, but he'll only be a factor in the next game or two if Ellis or someone else can't go.

This five-man rotation isn't particularly scary, and it won't grab the press headlines like the more high-profile linebacking corps and secondary, but they stuff the run and do all Ryan asks of them. Ellis's handicap will be another obstacle for this unit, but he'll give it a go, and DeVito has been up to the task whenever he gets in the game.