Pressure. It has been Rex Ryan's signature as Jets coach, an ability to conjure up a pass rush from any corner of his defense.
It has been Rex Ryan’s signature as Jets coach, an ability to conjure up a pass rush from any corner of his defense.
It is something Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson welcomes. That’s true in a figurative sense when it comes to the scrutiny and expectations that come with being a rookie quarterback in the NFL. It’s true in a more literal sense, too, because Wilson doesn’t blink when an opposing defense deploys large, snarling blitzers in his direction.
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“To be honest with you I like pressure,” Wilson said, “because there is more green grass behind it. If you make the play then there are a lot of great things that can happen.”
That ability to counterpunch against a blitz will be critical when the Seahawks host the Jets at CenturyLink Field on Sunday because Wilson is going to be in New York’s crosshairs, no doubt about that.
“We expect that every week,” coach Pete Carroll said. “And Rex is no different. He wants to find out whether the kid can hold up or not.”
Wilson survived an onslaught early in the season as he was under siege in Week 1 at Arizona. Wilson has thrived more recently, sacked just once in the previous two games combined.
Meanwhile, the Jets have 12 sacks, a total that ranks fourth-fewest in the league and stands as a symbol of how this team has eroded.
It wasn’t that long ago the Jets were known for their pressure. They had 40 sacks in 2010, tied for eighth in the league, going 11-5 and reaching the AFC Championship Game for a second successive year under Ryan.
They missed the playoffs last year. It’s a decline that symbolizes the decay of Ryan’s team. The Jets have gone from a team whose coach famously guaranteed a Super Bowl a few years back to being mocked when cornerback Antonio Cromartie predicted this week the team would still make the playoffs.
It’s too soon to call the Jets a spoiler, but at 3-5 they’re still playing to save their season. Tied for last in the AFC East with Buffalo, New York has nothing to lose and is coming off a bye, which means Ryan had even more time to prepare a defense already known for its variety.
“They try to get you mixed up and confused,” fullback Michael Robinson said. “They’ll blitz from anywhere on the field. They’ll blitz anybody.”
It’s the kind of defense that’s difficult for a veteran, let alone a rookie like Wilson. In four seasons as Jets coach, Ryan is 4-1 against rookie quarterbacks.
But Seattle is the team that enters Sunday’s game with a perfect record at home and a little bit of momentum after scoring a season-high 30 points last week against Minnesota.
“We feel good,” tight end Zach Miller said, “but we know each week is huge for us. … We feel good about the progress we’ve made, and we want to keep making it.”
That means standing up to the pressure from a Jets team with nothing to lose as it starts uncorking blitzes from every direction.
Danny O’Neil: 206-464-2364 or firstname.lastname@example.org