From his vantage point in the trenches, Jets defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers expanded on the riff of head coach Robert Saleh after Wednesday morning's OTA practice. The focus of both men's chats with reporters was the luxury afforded the team because of the added depth and talent of the Green & White's defensive linemen.
"We're talking about little things," JFM said. "The name of the game is to keep guys fresh. We're all attacking and sacks come with that and there's talk about the pass rush. No one's going to miss out on a sack. If Q [Quinnen Williams] gets one on first down, then it's second-and-13. I come in and get another sack. It's all the same thing. You're going to have opportunities and part of that is playing in a group."
Last week, Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich spoke at length about keeping his charges fresh, perhaps limited to 30-to-35 snaps a game, saying that any more would be "detrimental to their health and the quality of play." Saleh drilled deeper on his DC's words, saying that his preference is for his D-lineman was to play about 70 percent of the approximately 60-to-65 snaps a game, a number he said that would turn out to be 30-to-35 plays against the pass.
In the 2021 NFL season, six Jets linemen played more than 400 snaps, eight more than 300. JFM, who signed a contract extension last fall, took a whopping 716 snaps, or 66% of the plays on defense. According to Randy Lange, that was the highest number in any of the nine most recent seasons when four players had 400-plus and six had 300-plus.
"I'd say you've got to understand that anyone playing 80% of the snaps is not playing at full speed," Franklin-Myers said. "If you play 50, I know all will be full speed. In 2020 I finished 45% of the snaps and I was able to get in there and rush well and be fresh. Getting fresh guys in there is all they're talking about, that and keep hitting them. That's their plan, it's smart and that's what we live by."
In the offseason, general manager Joe Douglas and Saleh were determined to add reinforcements. Signed in free agency were Solomon Thomas and Jacob Martin, while Vinny Curry (who missed last season with a blood disorder) was re-signed. The Jets then drafted Jermaine Johnson (Round 1) and Micheal Clemons (Round 4). Holdovers include Williams, Bryce Huff, Nathan Shepherd, Jonathan Marshall and others. But perhaps the biggest impact will be the return from injury of Carl Lawson, who missed all of last season after he ruptured an Achilles tendon in a preseason workout with the Green Bay Packers.
"Anybody who watched camp last year saw how amazing Carl is," JFM said. "Now we're excited to have him back. To see him so focused, we spoke today about how excited he is to get back. He got to study tape and last year was like a redshirt for him. He looks great, he still looks like an action figure. We all want to be Carl when we grow up.
"Look, I know it's a cliché, but the sky's the limit when you talk about Carl, me and all the other guys. We don't have any weaknesses. We all bring different elements to the table. We're well-rounded, but we have to be together and play. On paper it's one thing, you still have to go out there and be that and live that."
See the best photos of the Jets on the field during the third week of OTA practices at 1 Jets Drive.
With so much flexibility and depth, Saleh and Ulbrich will have multiple options. Should JFM play inside or outside, maybe both?
"Inside, outside, doesn't matter to me," JFM said. "That goes for everybody. The idea is to put us in great positions to succeed."