John Franklin-Myers is on his way to a post-football career as a glad-handing, fence-mending politician, the way he's on a friendly first-name basis with, well, just about every defensive lineman around.
LA monster Aaron Donald? Franklin-Myers played alongside him as a Rams rookie in 2018. "You turn on some of my three-tech rushes, you see some of that in there," he said of AD's influence. "You talk about the best three-tech in the game and everybody wants to be like that, so what an opportunity I had to sit there and watch him ... and Michael Brockers and Ndamukong Suh."
San Francisco mainstays past and present Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner. JFM knows them through Solly. That's new Jets vet Solomon Thomas, of course.
"As I'm going back to three-technique after not being there for almost a year, it's a learning process for me," he said. "But I'm playing with Solly, who played with Arik and Buck, and Solly's played some great football too."
Then there are more current Jets who Franklin-Myers rubs elbows with from his new inside position — Quinnen as in Williams, Sheldon as in Rankins, and even Tanzel Smart, not a big DL name but another former Rams teammate of Franklin-Myers who "teaches me something every day ... he coaches me up on stuff and helps me out."
The point of this D-line roll call is not just to show how gregarious JFM is but also the kind of line rotation that he's a part of with the Jets this training camp that he, his teammates and his coaching staff believe in.
"Everybody's been through the same thing where you get to the middle of the season, guys get banged up, and it's like, whoa, shoot, you don't know who's going to be out there the next week," he said. "Well, we've got a roomful of guys you don't miss a beat with when the next person steps up. That's what you want out of a defensive line room and any position, so that's a good thing."
The Jets hit that wall last season. After the rocking Game 7 home win over Cincinnati, the line was hit with injuries, many small and a few large, and COVID absences, and some fair numbers for the overall defense from the first seven games tumbled over the last 10:
|2021 Weeks||Ru Yds/Att, NFL Rank||Ru Yds/Gm, NFL Rank||Sacks, NFL Rank|
|Weeks 1-8||3.99, 7th||115.1, 18th||17, t-16th|
|Weeks 9-18||4.78, 27th||154.5, 31st||16, t-26th|
Franklin-Myers was convinced, and convincing, after Friday's third camp practice that the Jets have fortified their front line rotation and that sub-unit can lead the entire D to a better season in '23.
"The sky's the limit for us and we're as good as the defensive line goes. We put that on our shoulders and we appreciate that every day and we practice like that," he said. "So whatever happens happens, but it's on the defensive line. We've got Carl [Lawson], me, Q, Sheldon — just look at the guys we have in the room. If we can't stop the run, if we can't get after the passer, then that's on us. The team goes as we go. Coach Saleh says that, Brick [DC Jeff Ulbrich], Coach Whitecotton [DL coach Aaron] says that, and we live that."
See the Green & White on the field during Back Together Saturday at Jets Training Camp.
And the rapid-fire Franklin-Myers added that, just as he's shifting his emphasis from edge to interior line this season, he'll play any position to get the job done.
"Just the movement, you see some of the best players in football who do that," he said of defenders shifting positions and sides of the formation. "They play at a high level and they do great things. So I'm just trying to do the same things those guys have done and just help this team win. Whatever they tell me to play, I'll play. D-end, D-tackle, nose ... linebacker, safety, corner ... quarterback, running back, receiver ..."
Not only will JFM bring more of his skills to bear at all those new positions, but he'll get to win a whole bunch of new friends and influence an even greater number of people than he does now.