TOJ’s In The Trenches: New York Jets Defensive Line Review, Week 16

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 16 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars and preview their week 17 matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Week 16 Summary

The Jets defensive line was missing a ton of pieces on Sunday but they still were able to put up a decent performance against the Jacksonville Jaguars. With starters John Franklin-Myers, Quinnen Williams, and Foley Fatukasi all out, the Jets needed a big effort from Sheldon Rankins and the backup defensive lineman. They didn’t put up gaudy numbers but they did their jobs on film.

Run Defense

The Jaguars finished with 132 yards on 31 carries for an average of 4.3 yards per carry. The Jets have only held their opponent under 100 yards rushing twice this season. As I’ve explained in past In The Trench pieces and on Twitter, this isn’t something you can just blame on the defensive line. However, you do want to see the defensive line’s play elevating the rest of the defense and that hasn’t happened as much as we hoped. The Jets defensive line is 8th in run stop win rate and the team is 22nd yards allowed per carry.

Pass Rush

The Jets had an average pass rush day on Sunday. They finished with 1 sack and 4 QB hits but they were able to break up a decent amount of plays with pressure. Right now they are ranked 18th in pass rush win rate and 19th in adjusted sack rate. The Jets need those rankings to be way up next year. Their defense simply cannot work without consistent pressure on pass downs.

Week 16 Standout: Sheldon Rankins

I have to give Sheldon Rankins a special shoutout for his performance on Sunday. Like I mentioned above, he was the only starter along the IDL that was healthy for this game and he showed out. On paper he only finished with 2 tackles but when you turn on the film, he was playing his ass off. Injury was a concern for him coming into this season which is probably why his contract with the Jets has an out after this season with decent potential savings. However, Rankins has been healthy and impressive this season. I hope the Jets decide to keep him on next season with hopefully a healthier and improved defensive line overall.

Week 17 Preview

Week 17 presents a challenge for the Jets defensive line. The Bucs offensive line is modestly ranked 16th in pass block win rate and run block win rate. However, Football Outsiders has them ranked at 1st in run blocking (adjusted line yards) and 1st in adjusted sack rate. The talent they have upfront supports this as well. Their tackle duo (Donovan Smith and Tristan Wirfs) is one of the best in the NFL. With the Jets already barely getting anything from their edge players, this matchup could be a huge problem.

The Bucs have many offensive weapons out on Sunday but you probably won’t see a run- heavy approach. It goes against both Head Coach Bruce Arians and QB Tom Brady’s nature. The Bucs are 11th in yards per carry but 30th in rush attempts: even though they could be more run-based, they simply aren’t. The Jets need their pass rush to come alive against the odds in this game.