Broncos, Tebow Focused On Jets’ ‘Bear’ Defense


Rex Ryan may just be the most high profile coach in the NFL. His mouth runs faster and louder than Manhattan’s express A train. Just ask that fan who was told to “shut up” (obscenity included) by Ryan last week.

Ryan is New York’s dummy for target practice and that’s exactly the way Ryan likes it.  He makes himself a big green target for a reason. He presumably welcomes the attention placed on him because he would rather deal with a feisty contingency of New York media rather than having his players take the bullets when they should be focusing on the game itself. The New York media can eat anyone alive, except for Ryan.

The Broncos were close to seeing a Rex Ryan coached team twice a year. He was nearly hired by the San Diego Chargers. After two AFC Championship appearances by Ryan, I’m sure the Bolts are kicking themselves for hiring Norv Turner instead.

Ryan has been so successful of late because of the defense that he runs. Ryan has 22 years of experience coaching defenses and just like his father, he determined that the 46 defense (a.k.a. Bear defense) is the way to go. Ryan is part of a defensive lineage with his father, Buddy Ryan, the mad scientist behind the Bear defense. The elder Ryan was the Bears defensive coordinator (hence the moniker) and then went on to coach the Eagles and the Cardinals. Rex’s brother, Rob Ryan, is currently the defensive coordinator for the Cowboys and also employs the Bear defense.

Defense runs in the Ryan’s blood to say the least.

“”He loves the family tradition,” Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy said of the Bear defense.

Rex Ryan’s Bear defense is a variation on the 4-3 base. It’s characterized by the defensive line shifting to the weak side. This makes it harder for offenses to execute their blocking assignments. The two outside linebackers play on the strong side of the formation. Then the defense will bring a 5-8 man rush either attempting to get to the quarterback or get to the runner quickly. Ryan’s defense will often line up this way, but then drop players back into coverage just to confuse the quarterback. In order for this type of defense to be effective, the cornerbacks have to be able to play man-to-man or bump and run coverage. This takes away the quarterback’s ability to make quick passes. The Jets have two of the best corners in the league in Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie.

In the past couple of years, the Jets have been one of the best defenses in the league. This year they are ranked 17th, giving up 22.2 points per game. Their pass defense is ranked 8th and their rush defense is ranked 15th.

The Broncos offense has a huge test on Thursday night.

“He (Ryan) runs a number of different schemes up front, plays with a number of different personnel groups,” McCoy said. “It’s going to start with communication up front.”

This is the most complex defense that Tim Tebow has faced this year. This is the type of defense that forces an offense to get the short to mid-range passing game going. As far as Tebow making pre-snap adjustments, McCoy doesn’t think that will be necessary.

Expect the Broncos to wind some trickery into their game plan. They didn’t have to get too fancy against the Chiefs because their run game was working so well. The Jets defense is much more savvy and they adjust well as the the game progresses.

Just as Ryan’s Bear defense is not really run by other teams (except the Cowboys) at the pro level, Tebow’s option offense is rarely seen at this level either.

We could be witnessing the opening act of a new type of pro game. It’s perfect for primetime, perfect for week 11, perfect for another highly anticipated Broncos-Jets matchup.

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