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Jets DL Review: An Unlikely Source Brought the Heat to Opposing QBs

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A Goose Reaches New Heights
With their base being a 3-4 front in 2018, the Jets finished tied for 16th in sacks with 39. Henry Anderson, who was acquired by the Colts on the third day of the draft in exchange for a seventh-round pick, tied for the team lead with seven sacks. In his first three professional seasons, Anderson had combined for three QB takedowns.

“With the rotation we have, I’ll usually be on the sideline for first and second down, come in on third down fresh and ready to go,” he said. “I just feel like I can move at a different speed than the person I’m lined up across from. It’s been different, but the rotation we have has helped a lot.”

Leonard Williams, who finished with five sacks, led the defensive line group with 867 snaps and was followed by Anderson (668 plays) and defensive tackles Steve McLendon (471) and Mike Pennel (358). Nathan Shepherd, a third-round pick out of Fort Hays State, finished with 18 tackles. The 6’5”, 302-Williams, who also paced the DL with 49 tackles and led the team with 24 QB hits, is still just 24-years-old.

“When you come in as a rookie you hear all of these older vets,” said Williams, who was Mike Maccagnan’s first draft pick as general manager of the Green & White. “I had Calvin Pace and all of these older guys on the team like (Nick) Mangold and stuff like that. And as soon as I got in they were like, ‘Man, Pup enjoy this time.’”

There is reason to think the best of the Big Cat lies ahead of him. He is a man eager to make even more of an impact in 2019 and beyond.

“I feel like I really have to start taking advantage of my time being here because there’s never going to be a place like this again afterwards,” he said. “I think just how fast it goes by.”

Front of the Line
With a defensive coordinator taking over in Gregg Williams, we know the Jets will be multiple with their fronts, coverages, personnel and pressure packages. It wouldn’t be wise to box Williams into a defense because he famously said a few years back that he has 42 packages of defense, saying at the time he will play 4-3 and 3-4 in the same game, 3-3, 3-2, 4-1, etc…

One of the first things the new defensive coordinator has to do is help fix the rush defense and that starts up front. The Green & White were 26th against the run (126.3 Yds/G) last season and they yielded an NFL-high 24 rushes of 20+ yards.

The Jets have decisions to make on a pair of players with expiring contracts in Anderson and McLendon. Williams could become a three-technique, but no matter what front the Jets line up in — they figure to be in the market for someone who can add explosion at rush end.

On the Roster in 2018

(Def—defensive snaps, ST—special teams snaps)

DL GP GS DNP IA Def ST How Ended
Leonard Williams 16 16 0 0 866 91 Active
Henry Anderson 16 3 0 0 668 168 Active
Steve McLendon 16 14 0 0 471 95 Active
Mike Pennel 16 7 0 0 358 89 Active
Nathan Shepherd 16 5 0 0 343 5 Active
Bronson Kaufusi 3 0 0 1 45 29 Active
Folorunso Fatukasi 1 0 0 15 3 0 Active
Destiny Vaeao 0 0 0 1 0 0 Active

Reserve/Future Signing

Charles Tapper

Potential Free Agents in 2019

Unrestricted: Henry Anderson, Steve McLendon. Restricted: Bronson Kaufusi, Destiny Vaeao.

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