Considering the disappointment of the 2011 NFL season, I find it fitting to kick off the next few weeks with a rant. Today’s topic is the New York Jets pass rush…or lack thereof.
In 2005, John Abraham had 10.5 sacks for the Jets defense. It is the last time a player on their defense has recorded double digit sacks in a single season. We are on six seasons and counting now…
We have long heard about Rex Ryan’s obsession with collecting cornerbacks. He seems to be of the belief that he can manufacture a pass rush from his blitz schemes if he is comfortable leaving the members of his secondary in man coverage. What we saw this past year was offenses caught up with what Rex was throwing at them. Blitz after blitz, not coming close to the quarterback and the pass rush not making nearly enough game changing plays.
If you are going to beat the elite quarterbacks in this league, you need to hit them. You can’t beat them with coverage, by loading up with top shelf corners. You need a pass rush that can consistently get after the quarterback and not always be aided by the blitz.
The Jets paid Calvin Pace a ton of money before the 2008 season to be this guy and despite being a pretty good all around player, he is nowhere near explosive enough to be a team’s top option as a pass rusher. In the draft, he looked to compliment him with Vernon Gholston…and we all know how that went.
Mike Tannenbaum went 0-2 prior to that season looking to substantially improve his pass rush and he appears to have been scarred from that, as the Jets have ignored pass rushers in free agency and the draft since. Four seasons have came and went. It is now time for Tannenbaum to make the pass rush his number one priority and give it another run.
There are plenty of reasons the Giants are 2-0 in the recent Conference Championship games and the Jets are 0-2 but a big one is the Giants ability to accumulate pass rushers over the years. Right now they have three (Pierre-Paul, Tuck, and Osi) who are head and shoulders above any of the Jets pass rushers. Hitting on Pierre-Paul compared to whiffing on Gholston makes a big difference.
Right now the Jets top pass rushing threat is a guy they found off the scrap heap in Aaron Maybin. He is a nice role player but considering his size and skill set, it would be foolish to rely on him as a top option.
The Jets need to seriously consider doing everything in their power to get a player like Courtney Upshaw, Melvin Ingram, or one of the other draft’s top pass rushing prospects on their roster. They also shouldn’t hesitate to add another outside linebacker who can get after the quarterback in the middle rounds to develop. In free agency, they should explore what it would take to sign Mario Williams, especially if New England is going to be after him. Williams is a long shot and if they can’t get him, they should look at adding a second tier free agent like Anthony Spencer who has long term potential.
This team can’t afford another off-season of putting the pass rush on the backburner, now is the time to aggressively pursue making a drastic improvement to it.