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Jeff Ulbrich and Jets Defense Seek Even Higher Ground in '24

DC: 'Until We Win and We Hold That Trophy Together, We're Not Going to Be Done'


This is one in a series of articles that will also appear in the New York Jets 2024 Yearbook, which will be published later this summer.

Jeff Ulbrich's defense in 2023 was one of the NFL's strongest units, finishing third in the league in total yards allowed and first in yards per play and holding opponents to 20.9 points per game. With most of the players from that defense back for '24, the coordinator expects their familiarity to take them to the next level.

"These guys have gotten to know each other's strengths, their weaknesses, their shortcomings, their superpowers, their kryptonites. They've gotten to know all that," Ulbrich said. "They also know how to communicate at the highest level, and some of that communication over time becomes just a wink or a little hand signal. It's very subtle, and when you get to that level, that's where the really special stuff lives."

Ulbrich, a 10-year NFL linebacker with the 49ers, begins his 12th season as a pro coach and his fourth heading the Jets defense. While it appears on paper there isn't a lot for his unit to improve on, Ulbrich has a plan for what will help the Jets get closer to their ultimate goal of hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in February.

"It's an exciting group to be a part of because as good as they've been, no one is happy with the results yet," Ulbrich said. "Statistically we've ended in the top five, 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."

Despite all the familiar faces, this offseason the Jets bolstered their defensive line with the addition of Pro Bowl pass rusher Haason Reddick via trade from Philadelphia.

A game-breaking pass rush has always been a point of focus for Ulbrich. After finishing tied for 25th in the NFL in sacks in 2021, the Jets were tied for eighth over the past two seasons combined. The addition of Reddick will add another dimension.

"His level of production is almost unheard of, as far as sack production, and his ability to win on the edge." Ulbrich said. "He'll add another critical component to our line."

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