Jets CB D.J. Reed believes team can have historical defense resembling '85 Bears

NEW YORK — The 1985 Bears defense has often been labeled as the best defense of all time.

D.J. Reed believes the Jets' 2023 defense has the possibility to be mentioned alongside that Bears team as one of the greatest defensive units ever.

“I think we have the potential to be the best defense in the NFL,” Reed said. “Honestly, I think we can be historical. Not just the best defense in the league, but we can have a historical defense like the 85-86 Bears, like the LOB [Seahawks’ Legion of Boom] in 2013.

“I think we can be that dominant if we put all the things together, if we focus on the now and be deliberate and everyone plays up to their potential. I think the sky’s the limit for us.”

Reed is certainly not lacking for confidence as the Jets return eight of their 11 starters defensively (nine if you count nickel cornerback Michael Carter II). The Bears defense is the measuring stick to which all great defenses are compared.

In 1985, the Bears, in coordinator Buddy Ryan’s “46″ defense, allowed 258.4 yards and 12.4 points per game, both of which were the fewest in the NFL that season. The team rode the defense en route to a 15-1 record and a Super Bowl title. Chicago also pitched back-to-back shutouts in the postseason, as it only allowed 10 points in the Super Bowl.

That ‘85 Bears defense had a ton of legendary players, which got them the nickname the Monsters of the Midway. Richard Dent, Mike Singletary and Dan Hampton have all been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Steve “Mongo” McMichael also could join them as he has been named one of three senior finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Class of 2024.

“Why not speak your goals,” Jets defensive end John Franklin-Myers said. “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 are not afraid to say that. We are not afraid to go out on a limb and say that we want to win the Super Bowl, we want to be the best defense in the NFL. If those are not your dreams, you’re in the wrong place.

The 2023 Jets defense may not rival the 1985 Bears defense, but they have star-studded defensive players at all three levels. Quinnen Williams is the leader on the defensive line as he is coming off a career-high 12 sacks in 2022 on his way to being named a first-team All-Pro.

C.J. Mosley is the defensive quarterback as one of the Jets' three captains, along with Aaron Rodgers and special teams ace Justin Hardee. Mosley recorded 158 tackles and was a second-team All-Pro selection in 2022.

Then there’s Sauce Gardner, who was the first rookie cornerback to be selected first-team All-Pro since Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott in 1981. All Gardner did in 2022 was register 20 pass break ups, two interceptions and 75 tackles.

Last year, the Jets defense ranked fourth in yards and points allowed. This followed a season in which the team finished last in both statistical categories.

Gang Green has a defensive line resembling an NHL hockey line that plays in a group or shifts during a game. With the addition of Rodgers at quarterback, the Jets defense expects to play with more leads than last year.

That will allow the unit to pin its ears back and focus on rushing the passes. If that’s the case, it could lead to more turnovers, an area the team hopes to improve on. Gang Green finished 29th in turnover ratio.

“Right now, we are getting ready for this first game,” Mosley said. “We have a long road ahead of us.

“Ask us at the end of the season and we can talk about it. Obviously, we have high expectations for ourselves individually and as a defense. But we gotta put it all to the test.

“Who knows what can happen this season, so let’s find out.”