FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- It's a question as tricky as the age old one about the chicken or the egg and which one came first.
What is more responsible for the New York Jets accruing 10 turnovers in the season's first two games, a lockdown secondary that is among the best in the league (if not the best)? Or is it a pass rush that has been nothing short of elite and could potentially become downright scary when defensive end Sheldon Richardson returns from his league mandated suspension in a couple weeks time? There is no denying that the Jets $150 million backend has changed the defense, but so to has the installation of a number of exotic schemes installed by first-year head coach Todd Bowles.
So perhaps it is the pass rush that is making the Jets the best team in the NFL in terms of turnovers. Or it could well be a secondary that is so good that Bowles is able to send an extra blitzer (or two...or three...) knowing that his cornerbacks and safeties have things handled.
If the pass rush wasn't so good, then the secondary wouldn't be in a position to get these interceptions and fumbles at such a staggering rate. Then again, the star talent in this secondary allows the pass rush to send extra bodies and stack the box.
Ask the players on the Jets if it is the pass rush that is creating all the turnovers or the league's best secondary and they'll give a collective shrug. Instead they use the word emphasis.
In fact, they'll even emphasize the emphasis. After all, Bowles, himself a former NFL safety, did just that when he took over the team.
"Coach calls the calls, we execute the calls. It is what it is," safety Marcus Gilchrist told Metro.
"They come up with a game plan, we execute the game plan. They make all the decisions, we go with the flow. It's the formula for a winning defense. It's something we've emphasized since early on."
"I think it's just the emphasis on it, we've been preaching it since OTAs. We have ballhawks back there, they put it up in the air and they're like receivers back there," defensive lineman Leger Douzable told Metro.
"Last year is last year, this year is this year, we don't really talk about last year. But it's been an emphasis since early."
It is quite a telling number. Not only do the turnovers lead the league through two games, it is impressive given where they are coming from. Last year they were the sixth-best defense in the NFL but they had a league-low 13 turnovers. Couple that with an offense that was coughing up the ball every which was but a buttfumble and it was a recipe for a 4-12 season where both head coach and general manager were fired.
Enter Bowles, defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals last year, whose team was eleventh in the league last year in turnovers, averaging 1.6 turnovers per game.
The Jets last year averaged .8 turnovers per game.
When he met with the team early in his tenure, he told his players that the team that won the turnover battle any given Sunday was statistically more likely to win. He wanted to create a culture of turnovers.
"When coach came in, he made it a point of emphasis," safety Jaiquawn Jarrett said this week. "Getting to the ball, tipped passes, being there. It's been an emphasis of ours for awhile now."
There is no denying that a Jets defense that had 13 turnovers last year is suddenly surging and flying around, creating all types of chaos on the field. That's what Bowles wanted from his unit, using exotic blitzes to force bad decisions and have the type of secondary that can make plays.
So maybe the chicken and the egg came at the same time after all, at least for Bowles and his defense.