If this year’s Super Bowl proved anything, it is that the formula to beat the New England Patriots heavily involves a strong pass rush. With the likes of Calvin Pace and Aaron Maybin leading the way, the Jets have a long way to go to reach that level.
There’s no question that the Jets also struggled mightily with covering tight ends this season, especially ones with speed and athleticism. There were a total of five games this past season in which the opposing team’s TE was the leading receiver. To me, that’s a pretty alarming statistic when it is not other teams wide receivers who are hurting you, but their tight ends. It screams that the Jets defense is slow at both linebacker and safety, and that they need to seriously consider taking a Courtney Upshaw in the upcoming draft.
When I watched Courtney Upshaw play this year, I saw a guy who could do just about anything in the scheme of a defense. Upshaw is a stout 6’2, 265 pounds and has experience as both an outside and inside linebacker which bodes well for the Jets. He wasn’t always known for being a guy to drop back in passing situations but when he did, he was able to do so with his athleticism while still posing as a serious threat at rushing the quarterback.
More importantly, I think Upshaw is a perfect fit for a Rex Ryan defense. In the past, Jet defenses have always prided themselves in stopping the run constantly, and Upshaw can fit the bill in that department. Upshaw is also a sure tackler, which uncharacteristically I think the Jets lacked a great deal this past season.
While it would be exciting to see a big name like Trent Richardson or Justin Blackmon in the first round, I don’t know if that is going to be realistic. I would much rather see them fill a need defensively, and even though the Jets’ offense was up and down for the majority of last season, it was their defense which left a bad taste in my mouth. Courtney Upshaw is a guy that will fill that need defensively, bringing a versatile package of speed and athleticism to the linebacker position.