General manager Joe Douglas and the Jets have invested a great deal of time this offseason adding valuable pieces to the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. However, one concern for a while has been the absence of an elite edge rusher. Entering his fourth season, linebacker Tarell Basham thinks he has what it takes to step up to the next level and fill that role.
"I definitely see myself fitting on the edge more so than anywhere," Basham said. "Pass-rushing and putting pressure on the quarterback — I've been training really hard this offseason to become that presence that we need, as far as that consistent pass-rush presence. I've been training in Atlanta with so many guys on the team — me, Steve McLendon, Henry Anderson, John Franklin-Myers, Jordan Jenkins. We've been out here working together and we're definitely about to exceed in that this year. We've shown that we are a great run-stopping defense, but me and my guys are about to get after the quarterbacks this year."
In 2019, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams led his unit to a successful season. While finishing No. 7 in the league in overall defense and No. 2 at run-stopping, the unit struggled to get after the quarterback. The Green & White ranked No. 26 in sacks per pass attempt, sacking quarterbacks just 6% of the time. As a result, pass-rushing has been made a top priority heading into the coming season, and Basham believes he has the unique formula that will provide the Jets the push in the right direction.
"As much as they need me on the edge rushing, I'll be there because I have the ability and I'm ready to make it happen," Basham said.
Like many other players in Williams' defensive scheme, last year Basham wore many hats and contributed most effectively at outside linebacker and on the edge. In 16 games and two starts, the 6'4", 266-pound LB recorded 18 tackles, 2 sacks, 6 PDs, 1 INT and 1 FR. But the Ohio product wanted to get more out of his game, so he decided to invest time in Atlanta this offseason with teammates to improve his craft. During his training, the group established a new approach to pass-rushing: view it as being depended on like a father.
"There's a lot of fathers in our role, that's one thing I have to say," said Basham, a 26-year-old defender who has 4 career sacks in 42 appearances. "There are a lot of guys who have kids who knows what it feels like to have somebody else count on you. We're taking a different approach to it this year mentally."