D.J. Reed says Jets' defense can be 'historical' like 1985 Bears, 2013 Seahawks

Dec 18, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets cornerback D.J. Reed (4) celebrates a defensive stop against the Detroit Lions during the second half at MetLife Stadium.
Dec 18, 2022; East Rutherford, New Jersey, USA; New York Jets cornerback D.J. Reed (4) celebrates a defensive stop against the Detroit Lions during the second half at MetLife Stadium. / Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports

After finishing the 2022 season with the No. 4 ranked defense in the NFL, the Jets are expected to take another step forward this year and challenge for the league's best defense.

But will it be one of the NFL's all-time greats?

Cornerback D.J. Reed believes so, telling reporters Monday via Zoom that he think the 2023 Jets "can be historical," even comparing the group to the legendary 1985 Chicago Bears and the 2013 Seattle Seahawks, also known as the "Legion of Boom."

"I'm very confident," Reed said. "I think we have the potential to be the best defense in the NFL. Honestly, I think we can be historical, not just the best defense in the league, but I think we can be a historical defense like the '85-'86 Bears and the LOB in 2013. I think we can be that dominant if we just put all the things together."

In 1985, Mike Ditka coached the Bears to a dominant 15-1 season and won Super Bowl XX after leading the league in points allowed (198), yards allowed (4,135) and takeaways (54). They were the only team to lead the NFL in all three categories until the Seahawks in 2013 with a stacked defense consisting of Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, and Bobby Wagner, among others. Seattle led the league in points allowed (231), yards allowed (4,378), and takeaways (39), and then dismantled Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl XLVIII.

It'll be a tall order for the Jets to achieve those stats this season, but if any team is going to come close, New York would have some of the higher odds. Led by Pro-Bowlers Sauce GardnerQuinnen Williams, and C.J. Mosley, the team is filled with star talent on defense.

After Reed's comments about being "historical," John Franklin-Myers was asked if that mindset is shared among the whole defense.

"Yeah, 100 percent," he said. "I mean if you kind of look at the way this team has been constructed and you look at, specifically, the way this defense has been constructed, and you kind of get that and you kind of understand the sense of urgency we have to go out there and be our best. You know offense is gonna bring it each and every week. But we have a chance, when you look at the New York Jets symbol, you look at us and you know you're gonna play us, you understand that this is a defensive organization. And you treat it as such.

"Everybody on defense has proven themselves. We all have played at a high level, we all played well together. Third year in this scheme, you kind of get that confidence, you get that swagger, you kind of understand it. And we all know what we're capable of, and now it's time to go out there and execute and do it."

JFM was asked again if he and the rest of the Jets are confident enough to make comparisons to the league's historically great defenses, and doubled down on backing up Reed.

"Yeah, 100 percent," Franklin-Myers said. "S--t, why not speak your goals? We all talk about manifestation. You have to talk about it, you have to believe it, you have to say it in order to do it. We're not afraid to say that. We're not afraid to sit here and go out on a limb and say we want to win the Super Bowl, or we want to be the best defense in the NFL. And if those aren't your dreams, you're in the wrong place."

In comparison to those historical defenses, last year's defense allowed 316 points, 5,288 yards, and had 16 takeaways. JFM went on to discuss the team's focus this offseason on finding ways to force more turnovers, something they finished No. 29 in the NFL at last year, despite being highly ranked in nearly every other category.

"We all talk about it. We all know and understand the importance that is, you have to win the turnover battle," Franklin-Myers said. "That's the most telling stat in football. We understand that. That's going to take us from No. 4 to No. 1."

When asked about Reed's comments, Mosley -- who was named team captain on Monday -- took the veteran approach and acknowledged the team's high expectations before noting that they now have to back up the claims. Still, Mosley is hopeful the 2023 Jets will be talked about like those historical defenses when the season is done.

"I'm not really worried about them having those high expectations and not being able to back it up," Mosley said. "But, when our brothers do say that, now we have to go out there and put on a show. It's cool to always be measured to another great team or another great defense, but it's a whole other thing when they're talking about the 2023 Jets.

"At the end of the year, that's what I hope people will start talking about, how great the 2023 Jets' defense was. I definitely feel that we have all the right pieces, we have the right coaches, the right personnel... We're definitely excited for the challenge this coming season."