With each backbreaking pass into Jet territory, fans and media alike quickly laid the blame at the feet of a defensive line that generated little pass rush outside of Abraham. They were looking in the wrong direction.
This wasn't readily apparent from the numbers, which indicate that Aaron Glenn, Marcus Coleman, Victor Green, and Damien Robinson surrendered the seventh fewest yards in the NFL and picked off 20 passes. But an effective defense stops an opponent at the right moment, when possession is on the line. And to that end the Jets were anything but timely.
Opposing teams converted almost 45 percent of their third-down opportunities against Edwards's crew, a dismal figure exceeded only by the (7-9) Atlanta Falcons. Of those successful conversions, two-thirds of them came via the pass. To put it in non-statistical terms, when push came to shove on defense, New York's money men were more concerned with cashing their paychecks than earning them.
All that said, Gang Green still figures to be a playoff contender next season.
Assuming the front office can fend off most of the advances Parcells is reportedly making on them to fill a potential staff in Tampa, the Jets have most of the large pieces of the puzzle in place. With a little peace and quiet, General Manager Terry Bradway and Edwards should be able to fill in the holes.