Jets' Defensive Line Is Laying a Sturdy New Foundation

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This is one in a series of articles that will also appear in the New York Jets 2020 Yearbook, which will be published later this summer.

The Jets' defensive line shed some big-names and maybe spun its wheels as a result in recent seasons.

Then in 2019 the unit appeared to gain some big-time traction.

"I think it was just us up front playing as a unit," DL Henry Anderson said. "We were all playing unselfish. Everyone was just trying to do their job and stay in their gap and execute their assignment on every play. We had some guys playing at a really high level up front."

An impressive way to measure that was the Jets vs. the run. The defense, with the line in the vanguard, was second in the NFL last year in both rush yards allowed/game and yards allowed/carry. The 86.9 yards/game and 3.34 yards/carry were also both the third-best averages in franchise history.

Focusing on the line, nine players saw action in 2019. Six of them — rookies Quinnen Williams and Kyle Phillips, followed by vets Steve McLendon, Anderson, Folorunso Fatukasi and Leonard Williams (traded in October to the Giants) — were in for at least 350 defensive snaps. Eight of the nine had at least one tackle for loss on a rush or reception, and eight had at least one-half sack.

That spread-the-wealth contribution from a still young pack of stout linemen bodes well for this unit in 2020. So says the group's grand old man, McLendon, now 34 years old and entering his 11th pro season and his fifth in green and white.

"I've been talking to a lot of the guys and we've been communicating this whole offseason," McLendon said from his newly opened gym in Georgia. "We've been doing workouts, truck pulls and stuff like that just to push each other. This is something that's different from the past offseason. We continue to push each other when we're not together, so I can imagine what it will be like when we are together."

See the Jets D-Line in Images Leading Up to the 2020 Season

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