Because the Jets have so much confidence in the ability of their cornerbacks, most notably All-Pro Darrelle Revis, they play more bump-and-run, man-to-man coverage than perhaps any team in the NFL.
The Steelersâ receivers are looking forward to the challenge of not only facing Revis, but Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson.
Pittsburgh (0-1) hosts the Jets (1-0) Sunday at Heinz Field.
Four different players caught at least four passes for more than 50 yards Sunday in a 30-19 loss at Denver. Though the Steelers lost that game, quarterback Ben Roethlisbergerâs ability to spread the wealth caught the eye of Ryan.
âTheir group is explosive. Their speed is incredible,â said Ryan. âI think Antonio Brown is one of the most underrated players in the league. He made the Pro Bowl last year as a returner, but he is the only guy in NFL history to have 1,000 yards as a returner and in the same season have 1,000 yards as a receiver. That tells you what kind of athlete he is. Then, they have Mike Wallace, who can blow the top off of a defense. Those two are impressive. Emmanuel Sanders doesnât get as much attention as the other two, but he is a tremendous receiver in his own right.â
Ryan should know.
Though the Steelers didnât play the Jets last year, they met twice during the 2010 season with New York winning, 22-17, in the regular season and the Steelers winning the rematch, 24-19 in the AFC Championship game.
Wallace, Sanders and Brown combined for 17 receptions for 195 yards in the first game. That number dropped to three catches for 40 yards in the rematch as the Steelers attempted only 19 passes on a cold January day.
Ryan knows the difficulty of matching up against Pittsburghâs receivers, but he trusts the ability of his cornerbacks.
âWe are fortunate that we have some great man-cover cornerbacks,â Ryan said. âA lot of times we donât double team. A lot of times we will put our guys out there on their islands, especially Darrelle Revis. Certainly, we have to mix things up with the Steelers. Their two receivers (Brown and Wallace) are explosive guys. Then you add Sanders, which makes it difficult. And they have Jerricho Cotchery. I have a ton of admiration for him. He is a tremendous receiver as well.â
The Steelers have their share of admiration for the Jetsâ defensive backfield, though there is some question as to whether Revis, a former Pitt star and Aliquippa native, will play this week after suffering a concussion in New Yorkâs 48-28 win last week against Buffalo.
Ryan said Revis hasnât been cleared for contact, but is able to do some running.
âRevis gets a lot of the talk, and deservedly so. Heâs one of the best,â said Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. âBut I think itâs unfair to the rest of that secondary, especially Antonio Cromartie. Heâs a great, long DB and ball hawker that makes plays. I donât know if he gets the credit that he is due. A lot of it is because of âRevis Islandâ and all of the stuff they say and it is deserved. Their whole secondary is very good.â
Odds and end zones
New Yorkâs win at Heinz Field in 2010 is the Jetsâ lone win in Pittsburgh in nine games. ... Linebackers James Harrison (knee) and Stevenson Sylvester (knee), safety Troy Polamalu (calf) and running back Jonathan Dwyer (foot) did not practice Wednesday. ... Defensive end Ziggy Hood (back) was limited.