The Jets most talked about offseason in recent memory was the 2019 offseason. The offseason saw them add pro bowlers, C.J. Mosley and Le’Veon Bell. They added a dynamic playmaker in Jamison Crowder and an efficient slot corner in Brian Poole. The one spot they failed to address that offseason, was pass rusher. The Jets knew when they inked Gregg Williams to be the defensive coordinator, that he can harness the best out of the worst situations. However, they wanted to give him another toy to play with in his defense. That player was going to be Anthony Barr.
Barr was targeted by then general manager, Mike Maccaganan, after losing out on Trey Flowers to the Lions. Barr was thought of as a player who could be the answer to the pass rush issues. Barr reportedly agreed to join the team on a multi year deal worth $14 million a year. The move elated Jets fans, as Barr and Mosley were the first two moves of the presumed big offseason, then, Anthony Barr decided to rejoin the Vikings and pull out of his verbal agreement with the Jets. The move left the Jets without a pass rusher, and they selected Jachai Polite in the 2019 draft to try to fill the pass rush void. Polite was a disaster and the Jets finished the offseason without a proven pass rusher added to the roster. But, what if Barr HAD signed with the Jets after all?How Would Barr Have Fit With The Jets?
Taking a look at past Gregg Williams defenses, the 2018 season depicts the expected role for Anthony Barr. Although the Browns had Myles Garrett as their lead pass rusher, Barr likely would have been the Jets lead pass rusher. Yes, he was not, and still has not been used as a true pass rusher in Minnesota, but in college, he was a prolific pass rusher. In 2012, his junior season at UCLA, Barr had 83 tackles, 21.5 TFLs, 13.5 sacks in what was deemed a breakout season. In 2013, his senior season, Barr put up another impressive year with 66 tackles, 20 TFLs, 10 sacks, 6 Forced Fumbles and 4 Fumbles Recovered. Barr parlayed that success into becoming the 9th overall selection in the 2014 Draft. Since then, Barr has not had a season with more than 79 tackles, 4 sacks or 9 TFLs. Barr has been underutilized as a pass rusher at the next level, and that’s why the Jets targeted him. Barr has been utilized more as a coverage linebacker, where he has had decent success.
Would Barr Have Had Success?
Barr would have slotted in as a running mate for Jordan Jenkins in the pass rushing game, and provided versatility as a coverage backer. The guy who filled that role for the Browns in the 2018 Williams led defense, was Jamie Collins. Collins was not used as prominently as a pass rusher, so when estimating Barr’s statistics, they show more optimistic pass rush statistics. So when estimating his statistics, this was what I came up with.Projected Stats: 70-80 tackles, 6.5-9.5 sacks, 10-15 TFLs
Looking at the Jets pass rush last year, even 6.5 sacks would have vaulted Barr to the top of the Jets pass rush leaders. Presuming Barr had been a Jet, Jordan Jenkins likely would have had more success as well. Barr would have taken some of the attention away from Jenkins on defense and allowed him to succeed more.
Anthony Barr would have been a dream pairing with Gregg Williams. Ultimately, he was handed a very rich deal to remain in Minnesota. In Minnesota last season, Barr put up 79 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 6 TFLs in more of a middle linebacker role. Barr did have a good season, but the argument could be made that Barr would fit better as a pass rusher. Minnesota has yet to use him in that sense and if they did, it could change their defense.
Barr could have revitalized his career in New York and proven himself as the dynamic college player of his past. As for the Jets, Barr would have been an immediate bolster to the pass rush, but instead Williams has resorted to more creative pass rushing tactics. Although, both sides have moved forward, for the sake of the Jets pass rush, and Barr’s legacy, both sides may always wonder, what if?