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D-Line Reset | Jets' Powerful Line Plans to Keep Up the Pressure in '24

Quinnen Williams, Bryce Huff, Jermaine Johnson Led the Unit to a 43-Sack Bounty in the Season Just Ended

Table inside Article
Player Exper in '23 GP-GS-DNP-IA D-ST-Tot Snaps
Quinnen Williams 5th 17 - 17 - 0 - 0 779 - 76 - 855
Jermaine Johnson (LB) 2nd 17 - 17 - 0 - 0 747 - 78 - 825
John Franklin-Myers 6th 17 - 17 - 0 - 0 627 - 8 - 635
Solomon Thomas 7th 17 - 3 - 0 - 0 484 - 76 - 560
Bryce Huff (LB) 4th 17 - 0 - 0 - 0 480 - 63 - 543
Micheal Clemons 2nd 16 - 1 - 0 - 1 369 - 163 - 532
Quinton Jefferson 8th 14 - 14 - 0 - 0 469 - 38 - 507
Will McDonald (edge) R 15 - 0 - 0 - 2 184 - 128 - 312
Al Woods 13th 6 - 0 - 0 - 1 141 - 36 - 177
Carl Lawson 7th 6 - 0 - 0 - 11 101 - 0 - 101
Jalyn Holmes 5th 5 - 0 - 0 - 0 81 - 16 - 97
Tanzel Smart 4th 4 - 0 - 0 - 0 63 - 0 - 63
Bruce Hector 3rd 2 - 0 - 0 - 0 37 - 0 - 37
Perrion Winfrey 2nd 1- 0 - 0 - 0 13 - 1 - 14

Finished Season on Practice Squad: Manny Jones, Marquiss Spencer

Finished Season on IR: Bradlee Anae, Jefferson, Ifeani Odenigbo, Woods

Finished Season on Practice Squad IR: Smart, Winfrey

Signed Reserve/Future Contract: Jones, Spencer


Unrestricted: Huff, Jefferson, Lawson, Odenigbo, Thomas, Woods Restricted: Anae

Lay of the Land in '24
The Jets' Wide 9, heavy-rotation defensive line has hit its stride with two big seasons as the leading edge of the Jets' defense in 2022 and this past season and with the promise of continued success in 2024. "We've got a really good D-line," head coach Robert Saleh said. "We've got really good football players on that group."

Second-time Pro Bowl selection Quinnen Williams remains the heart and soul of the unit. His sack numbers went down, from 12 sacks in '22 to 5.5, a testament to the attention opposing coordinators paid to double-teaming and trying to neutralize Q. But John Franklin-Myers returns as Mr. Inside/Mr. Outside, and the edge is rife with young talent in Jermaine Johnson, Micheal Clemons and Will McDonald. As foes adjust to new Jets threats, Williams could be primed for a monster '24 and could bring a lot of teammates along for the ride.

"I know for our room, we finished with 40, 42 D-line sacks this year, which is pretty awesome," said Johnson, the LB/edge who moved into a starting role in his second season. "I know we're going to look to break that next year." Actually, the total was 43. More on that below.

But there will be drama as the Jets get their DL ducks in a row this offseason. Bryce Huff had an outstanding year as a pass-rusher but he can become a free agent, would like to stay with the Jets, yet is seeking a big contract and more consideration as a three-down lineman. Carl Lawson also can become a UFA after a season in which he was deactivated for 10 of the Jets' last 13 games.

Also possible free agents are Solomon Thomas, Quinton Jefferson and Al Woods, with the latter two ending the season on Injured Reserve. These linemen and/or others are needed to come through in the interior run defense, which needs health and improvement to rise to the high level of the Jets' pass defense.

Quick Look Back at '23
No one Jet was a T-Rex but many had seasons like a pack of Jurassic Park velociraptors. Huff topped the Jets with 10 sacks and 21 QB hits, both career highs. Johnson checked in with 7.5 sacks, the uber-athletic pick-six at Cleveland and a three-PD game in the win over Philadelphia. Williams continued the Pro Bowl voters with a career-high 70 QB pressures (as measured by Next Gen Stats), most among NFL interior D-linemen, and added 14 tackles for loss/no gain, second on the D only to brother Quincy Williams' 18. JFM contributed across the board, as did Thomas and Jefferson.

And first-round rookie Will McDonald flashed with three sacks in his limited playing time, and DC Jeff Ulbrich sees "the same jump" that Johnson made from year one to year two being made by McDonald. "Year one for some of these young guys is a learning process," Ulbrich said. "Then on top of that, we've got just crazy depth in that room, where it's hard to get a guy as many snaps as maybe other first-rounders are getting. But I am excited for Will."

As mentioned above, one of the few areas of struggle for the D-line was in run defense. The Jets yielded 124.0 rush yards/game, 25th in the NFL, although they fared better in allowing 4.08 yards/carry. Run D isn't all on the line, of course, but the Jets will seek to fortify their rush prevention in free agency and the draft.

DL Trivia
Williams wasn't as concerned about his 5.5 sacks as he was proud of the D-line's combined sack performance. Of course, when your scheme calls for almost all pressure to come from your four-man front, the line's sack numbers will rise — but not like they did this season. The D-line had 43 of the team's 46 individual sacks, the most by a Jets DL since before NFL defensive sacks were official. The 1981 Sack Exchange DL headed by Joe Klecko, Mark Gastineau, Marty Lyons and Abdul Salaam unofficially racked up a mind-boggling 59 of the franchise-record 66 sacks that season.

See the best photos of Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, Solomon Thomas and the Jets defensive line during the 2023 season.

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