After experiencing a breakout season with the Green & White, Henry Anderson would have attracted plenty of suitors had he hit the open market in free agency. But the Jets made it clear they wanted Anderson and he wanted to stay, so the two sides came together and reached an agreement that will keep the veteran defensive lineman in New York for the foreseeable future.
“I loved playing here last year. I think they do a great job of taking care of the players,” Anderson said after he put pen to paper on his new deal. “Ownership makes sure we have everything we need, the staff here is awesome. I love living up here. I really wanted to be back, so I’m glad they made a good offer and I’m excited to be back.”
The 6’6”, 301-pound Anderson arrived in New York last April with the Jets acquiring him from the Colts in exchange for a seventh-round draft pick. The Colts deemed Anderson expendable because they were transitioning from a 3-4 front to a 4-3 front. The Jets’ base was a 3-4 and they liked the depth he provided up front.
Nobody could have predicted the success Anderson had in 2018. Appearing in 16 games for the first time in his four seasons, Anderson tied for the team high with a personal-best seven sacks and he added 21 QB hits and six pass defenses. But the Jets made coaching changes in the offseason and many wondered if Anderson would be misplaced again if the club moved to a 4-3.
“I feel like I can excel in any sort of defense because I believe in myself as a player and believe I’m pretty versatile,” said the long-limbed Anderson, who also pitched in last season on special teams with a pair of kick blocks. “But it did make me nervous a little bit because it felt a little like last year when I was in Indianapolis. We switched to a 4-3 and their coaching staff didn’t really see me as a fit in their system, so I got traded and I felt like it seemed like the media put it out the same way.”
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Head coach Adam Gase clarified things, though, at the Combine, stating the Jets would remain a base 3-4 team. While defensive coordinator Gregg Williams hasn’t spoken publicly on the matter, his track history suggests not to get caught up with fronts because he runs a ton of defenses and he will make his system fit to his personnel. Anderson is a good player and that is what made him a good fit.
“I met with Coach Williams earlier and talked a little bit about the scheme. I’m really pumped to get going and start working with some of those guys,” said the Stanford product, who will be entering his fifth professional campaign next fall. “I think it’s going to be fun. It’s going to be an attacking defense, which as a defensive player, you love to hear. I can’t wait to get started.”
Describing Williams as “fiery” and someone who will push the players to get better every day, Anderson is embracing what lies ahead. He also has enjoyed the front office’s aggressive approach in free agency as the Jets have increased their talent base on both sides of the ball.
“It’s really exciting seeing some of these moves that the front office is making during free agency,” he said. “Obviously the draft is coming up, so there are going to be more guys coming in through that, but bringing in C.J. Mosley, bringing Steve (McLendon) back and some other guys in is exciting. It gets you itching to get with these guys and starting to practice and work out with these dudes. We have a few more weeks before we report for OTAs, so I’m sure that’s going to fly by and we’ll be working in no time.”
After racking up three sacks in 29 games with the Colts, Anderson more than doubled that total in 16 contests. Feeling at home, he is hoping to wreak even more havoc in his second season with the Jets.
“I was fully healthy last year for what seems like the first time in my career, so I was playing with confidence, playing loose,” he said. “I think that season gave me more confidence and I’m going to come out this next year ready to go. New defense, more attacking, it’s going to be fun. Hopefully I can get after the quarterback a little bit more.”