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Jeff Ulbrich Says Continuity 'Is So Critical' for Jets Defense

DC Excited to See What Green & White Can Do in 2024


As many players from of the Jets' top-five defense return for 2024, defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich knows how important the group's continuity.

"The continuity, especially on the back end is so critical," Ulbrich said. "These guys have to know each other's strengths, their weaknesses, their shortcomings, their superpowers, their kryptonite. They also have to know how to communicate at the highest level and some of that communication over time becomes just a wink. It's a little hand signal. It's very subtle. When you get to that level, that's where the really special stuff lives. The fact that we have some continuity, that we've had guys that have been here in the system for multiple years now, it's exciting to think where they could take it."

The Jets' defense, which ranked third in total yards allowed per game (292.2), second in passing yards allowed per game (168.3), and fifth5th in sacks per pass attempt (9.2%), returns many of its star players. All-Pro CB Sauce Gardner and D.J. Reed return in the backfield, while DT Quinnen Williams is back to anchor to the defensive line. Although the Jets traded DL John Franklin-Myers and LB Bryce Huff departed in free agency, they have added a key contributor in Haason Reddick.

"He's got just amazing speed, and his level of production is almost unheard of as far as the sack production and his ability to win on the edge," Ulbrich said of Reddick. "He'll add another critical component to our defensive line."

"I absolutely see him as a guy that can play every single down. Although he is a little under-sized [6-1, 240], he's great with leverage, hand placement. He understands how to play the position, both as a pass rusher, obviously from the sack production, but also from an edge-setting standpoint."

Reddick, who finished last season with 11 sacks, 13 tackles for loss and 23 quarterback hits, adds to a room that includes Jermaine Johnson, Will McDonald, Micheal Clemons, Leki Fotu, Solomon Thomas and Javon Kinlaw.

"We have such a diverse group," Ulbrich said. "We've got a Micheal Clemons who's just got amazing physicality, toughness, length, size, and all of that. You got Jermaine that he can do it all really well. So, we have guys that have different strengths, weaknesses and it's up to us as coaches to kind of put them in the best place to be successful and we will."

Above all, Ulbrich is excited to see the defense mature as it enters Year 3 in the same system. While the defense has performed well and ranked in the top 5 for consecutive years, the players are still hungry for wins.

"It's an honor to coach these guys because as good as they've been, no one is happy with the results as of yet," Ulbrich said. "Yeah, statistically, we've ended in the top 5, but ultimately winning is how we create a legacy in this league. Until that happens and we win, and we hold that trophy together, we're not going to be done. It's a really cool group in that way, just so driven, so self-motivated. Takes very little nudging by me, they come ready every single day."

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