Andrew Fialkow with a breakdown of New York Jets positional group on the defensive line…
Starters: DE: Henry Anderson, DL: Quinnen Williams, DE: Leonard Williams, OLB: Jordan Jenkins
Defensive Ends/Pass Rushers: DE Leonard Williams, DE Henry Anderson, DE Nathan Shepherd, OLB Jordan Jenkins, OLB Brandon Copeland, OLB Jachai Polite
Overview: The addition of Quinnen Williams finally gives Leo Williams to not see as much attention as he normally has from other teams, as he will play in the interior with him a lot. This is put up or shut up time for Williams, who has been on the decline as a pass rusher since his seven sack season in 2016. He finally has someone in Quinnen next to him who will also demand attention. With them in the interior it will be important that Jenkins or Polite break out as a pass rusher. I think Polite has a huge opportunity to take the starting job from Jenkins and be relied on as one of the main situational pass rushers for the defense. Although Jenkins flashed last year, (7 sacks, 15 QB hits) he has still not shown even consistency at the position. Polite had six fumbles, 11 sacks, and 19.5 tackles for a loss last year in college. He has the breakout ability but will need to keep his head on straight after he was benched at Florida for violating team rules, and had poor interviews at the combine which caused his drop to the 3rd round in the NFL draft. Polite is the player to watch out for this bunch, as he can have the biggest impact on the defense if he taps into just some of his potential as a pass rusher in his rookie year. Bet on his sack numbers in an online sportsbook.
Defensive Tackles : Quinnen Williams, Steve McLendon, Foley Fatukasi
Overview: The Jets have a lack of depth at the DT position proving that McLendon was a necessary resigning. Quinnen Williams will immediately be an upgrade over McLendon. His ability to disrupt the run and the pass will be big for the Jets defense. McLendon is still good against the run and will be a valuable back up. The only problem will come if the Jets need to go past McLendon on the depth chart for the DT position. Quinnen Williams will have a big role from the start and should help contribute a lot.
Final thoughts: This is the most important group on the Jets defense for a couple of reasons. One being that the linebacker position is solid with Avery Williamson and CJ Mosley both coming off of productive seasons. Another being that the clear weakness on the defense resides in the secondary. With questions about Marcus Maye’s health, and Tru Johnson’s down last season, the only sure player in the secondary is Jamal Adams. It will be imperative that the pass rush from the interior and exterior of the defensive line is not like last seasons.
The lack of pass rush led to the Jets giving up the 29th most points in the league per game (27.4). Gregg Williams needs to scheme around the secondary because Jamal Adams will be called on to blitz a lot and he is likely the best in coverage in the secondary overall. With a solid interior line, the Jets need Jordan Jenkins, or possibly Jachai Polite to break out as situational pass rushers. The defensive line is going to need to live up to the amount of talent it has in order for the Jets to hide the weaknesses that lie within their defense. The Jets finished 24th in the NFL last season in sack percentage. This stat must improve if the Jets want to contend for the playoffs this year.