Even though the Jets defense finished No. 25 overall last year, they showed promise at times and linebacker Avery Williamson believes the group is on the verge of turning a corner.
"Shoot, we can definitely be a top-five defense," Williamson said. "We have all the talent right there, we just have to continue to be on the same page. We could be really great, we have the talent, man. I'm excited. We had a great squad last year. We didn't have the best season, but we fought hard. So if we have all the pieces I feel like we do, we can really be something special."
The Jets have a number of talented players on that side of the ball including safety Jamal Adams and defensive lineman Leonard Williams. The team also added a third Pro Bowl performer in LB C.J. Mosley and perhaps the top prospect in the draft in DL Quinnen Williams in the offseason.
Last season, the Green & White finished No. 2 in the NFL in third-down defense, holding opposing offenses to a 34% conversion rate. Williamson played a big part in that as he finished second on the team with 11 third-or-fourth-down tackles to prevent conversions in addition to two third-down sacks.
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In his first season with the Green & White, the sixth-year player paced the defense with 159 tackles at the Mike 'backer as well as tallying three sacks, seven passes defensed and two forced fumbles. But with the addition of Mosley, Williamson is transitioning to the Will position in defensive coordinator Gregg Williams' scheme.
"You have to go in there and be ready to hit people," Williamson said of his new role. "But it involves a lot of coverage, so you really have to be in tune with what your corners are doing, the safeties, how they're playing the field, so it's a lot of stuff. It's definitely a lot of new things, but I'm starting to pick it up and just continue to keep looking at stuff and keep enjoying the process."
The 6'1", 246-pound WIlliamson is aiming to be nail the playbook, so he'll be able to play fast next to his new partner when training camp opens in July. Williamson said he and Mosley did a solid job communicating in the spring and described his new partner as "a good dude."
"He's definitely a good leader and a good player. He's been fitting in well. Shoot, I'm excited to be with him this fall, it's going to be fun," said Williamson, who later added, "I want to make sure I'm complete on the playbook before we step on the field for Game 1 and just make sure I'm playing fast, not guessing on anything.
"I want to be exact on everything."