TOJ’s In The Trenches: New York Jets Defensive Line Review, Week Two

Dan Essien gives a week 3 preview of the Jets’ defensive line.

In our weekly In The Trenches series we’ll focus on the performances of the Jets’ offensive and defensive lines throughout the season. In this edition, Dan discusses the performance of the defensive line in the Jets’ week 2 loss to the Patriots and previews the week 3 matchup with the Denver Broncos.

Week 2 Summary

The defensive line had a great showing in week 2 before the entire defense finally broke after continually bearing the burden of poor offensive drives.  They took advantage of the Patriots starting right tackle, Trent Brown, being out and dominated their matchups on the edge. There were points where they were threatening to take over the game, including one forced 3-and-out that featured 2 sacks and a forced fumble. They do still have plenty of room to improve, however, and they still need more from Quinnen Williams as he finds groove this season.  Connor Rogers does a great job summarizing their performance in this week’s all-22 for Badlands. With the unit still developing chemistry, it’s only going to get better.

Run Defense

The Patriots finished with 101 rushing yards on 24 attempts, averaging 4.2 yards per carry. The run most will think of is Damien Harris’ touchdown run in the second half but beyond that, the defensive line performed well against the run. I think, once again, they’ll need more from those not named C.J Mosley at the linebacker level as the season goes along. I thought Foley Fatukasi and Shaq Lawson played particularly well against the run in week 2. Fatukasi is currently tied for 3rd in run stop win rate for DTs according to ESPN.  The defense finished with 10 TFLs, more than doubling their total from week 1. The defensive line owned 5 of those TFLs and helped cause the majority of the rest.  Overall the defensive line is now ranked 3rd overall in run stop win rate.

Pass Rush

We spoke last week about the Jets converting their pass rush wins up front into sacks and they started to do that in week 2. Saleh also started flexing a bit, showing off some new blitz looks and more DL twists which proved to be effective. The Jets managed 3 sacks, and 2 QB hits. They now sit at 3rd in the NFL in pass rush win rate through week 2. With pressures becoming sacks, next up for this unit is turnovers.

Week 2 Standout: Sheldon Rankins

Sheldon Rankins looked outstanding for the Jets in week 2. He seems to be adapting well to his role in the Jets defense not only as a player but as a leader as JFM mentions in the video above. His influence is helping the younger players evolve but he’s also winning his matchups plenty in pass rush and showing us he still has that elite ability in his locker. Rankins had a sack, 1 TFL, and 1 QB hit but he influenced the game even more than that, particular when lined up next to John Franklin-Myers. Expect to see the Jets lining those two up next to each other more often and getting them in some more twists and stunts.

Week 3 Preview

The Jets defensive line will come up against a fairly average Broncos offensive line in week 3. Last season, football outsiders had the Broncos ranked 28th overall in run blocking (measured by adjusted line yards) and 19th overall in pass blocking (measured by adjusted sack rate). Their line hasn’t improved all that much since then but they are playing better so far this seaosn. The majority of their strength lies on the left side of the line with Garrett Bolles and Dalton Risner. But really other than Bolles, every other matchup should be winnable for the Jets. The defensive line should be able to completely shut down the run. With some help from the offense, they could force the Broncos to become one dimensional.

X-Factor: Bryce Huff

Bryce Huff was showing some serious juice off the edge at points this season. He faces his toughest matchup so far this season against LT Garrett Bolles. Huff is going to be isolated with the Jets having the advantage on the inside. Bolles is a towering figure but if Huff can cause issues for him by getting underneath him and using his speed and unique bend ability to get a handful of wins, it could really change the game for the Jets defensively.

Prediction

It seems like it’s setting up to be a defensive struggle on Sunday. I predict another solid performance from the defensive line. 4 sacks (1 forced fumble), and holding the Broncos under 100 yards rushing. Also, expect another big game from John Franklin-Myers as the Broncos present another buffet of favorable matchups for him.