Even despite all of the glowing reviews of Gang Green’s 2018 draft class, it would be foolish to ignore the team’s failure to draft a potential impact edge rusher at any point during their three days in Dallas. Whether it was Josh Sweat in round 4, Utah’s Kylie Fitts in round six or even Joe Ostman as an undrafted free agent, there were a few players who may have offered an upgarde off the edge, but the Jets took a pass at every turn.
With that being the case, when it comes to generating pressure against opposing quarterbacks, it’s going to come down to the man who was brought in as the head coach specifically due to his defensive acumen, Todd Bowles.
While the cupboard is bare in terms of established pass rushers, there are a few options at Bowles’ disposal that could see the Jets increase the amount of pressure they’ve been able to apply than in years past. This isn’t to say there is any likelihood of a premier pass-rusher emerging, but merely a few methods that could give his defense a boost. A few suggestions:
More Jamal Adams and Darron Lee off the edge:
A multi-dimensional safety, Adams was used as a blitzer roughly 10% of the time last season according to pro football focus. The result was 6 hurries and a pair of sacks. With a season under his belt and the lethargic Muhammad Wilkerson out of the picture, perhaps sending Adams off the edge when positioned in the box could see an uptick in his production.
Then of course, there’s Darron Lee. The inside linebacker who moves around the defensive formation quite a bit, but should be used off the edge more frequently. Like Adams, Lee blitzed on roughly 10% of the time last season and was more productive than Adams as he came away with 10 pressures (6 hurries, 2 quarterback hits and 2 sacks). When you can’t get to the quarterback and you have a defender in the box who runs a 4.48 40, you find a way to get him chasing down quarterbacks.
Increased snaps for David Bass:
The team recently re-signed sub linebacker David Bass whose performance was overlooked by most fans in a lost 5-11 season. Bass picked up 3.5 sacks on the season while playing just a handful of snaps and according to PFF, was one of the more productive pass rushers in the NFL among those defenders with at least 100 snaps on defense.
Per @PFF, Jets OLB David Bass tied for 9th in the NFL in pass rush production among 3-4 OLB's with at least 100 pass rush snaps. Jets should be working to bring him back.
— Glenn Naughton (@AceFan23) March 28, 2018
According to PFF, on just 143 pass rush snaps, Bass amassed 19 pressures (12 hurries, 3 QB hits and 4 sacks). He’s far from an elite defender, but when you rank 9th in the NFL in pass rush production as mentioned in the above tweet, you should be out there until you prove you shouldn’t be.
Bring on the Blitzes:
Now that Mike Maccagnan added Trumaine Johnson and retained Morris Claiborne, the team’s secondary should be much improved as Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye enter year two. Given the fact that Johnson is one of the NFL’s top press/man corners, this should give Bowles the freedom to send an extra defender or two more frequently than he has in year’s past. Outside of Adams and Lee, there are a couple of linebackers who could have an impact if the secondary holds up for that extra split second. Josh Martin comes to mind immediately as rush linebacker who, in his first season of extensive action, picked up just 1.5 sacks but came away with a total of 18 pressures. Perhaps better coverage on the back-end leads to more sacks and fewer pressures moving forward.
Pray to the football gods:
Okay, this is probably the least effective method of getting a pass rush generated, but it’s said with tongue planted firmly in cheek. There are some players on the roster who haven’t panned out for one reason or another, but should they turn the corner under the tutelage of Kevin Greene, there could be some notable contributors.
- Dylan Donahue: Plenty of fans seem to have given up on Donahue after learning of his multiple DUI’s since last season, but the fact of the matter is he played so little as a rookie that no fair evaluation of his play can be offered. He rushed the passer just 36 times last year before going on IR and came away with 4 QB pressures. Not a terrible rate, but far from an adequate sample size.
- Lorenzo Mauldin: Mauldin spent last season on IR and along with Donahue, may end up looking elsewhere for work once the season rolls around. This is Mauldin’s final shot to prove he belongs.
- Jordan Jenkins: Jenkins has proven to be one of Mike Maccagnan’s best value picks as a stellar strong side run defender. Even still, should he find his way to the quarterback more frequently as he enters year three and perhaps become a six or seven sack per year player, it would bode well for the “big picture” on defense as they’ll look to multiple players to contribute.
Tweak the Scheme:
With their best defensive lineman, Leonard Williams, facing consistent double-teams, perhaps more four-man fronts in an attempt to free Williams up a bit more from time to time could lead to more opportunities than he’s had in the past.
Without an elite pass rusher on the roster, there’s no one single approach that will generate pressure, but there are a few options to explore, some being more realistic than others. But come game days, it’s going to come down to Todd Bowles, and Kacy Rodgers to a degree, to find a way to stop quarterbacks from sitting back in the pocket and picking his defense apart. Good luck, Todd.