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To Prevent Job Turnover, Sheldon Rankins Offers 'Takeaways'

Jets' Veteran D-Lineman 'Definitely Proud of Those Guys' Who Produced Picks & Big Plays at Miami


For Sheldon Rankins and the frontmen of Inside the Jets, the password was "takeaways."

The veteran defensive lineman was asked up top by podcast hosts Bart Scott and Dan Graca about the Jets' three takeaways at Miami on Sunday — their most in a road game since the 2019 season finale at Buffalo — and how proud he was of two of the young'uns playing behind him, Ashtyn Davis and Brandin Echols, as they turned in an interception apiece leading to 10 points.

"I'm definitely proud of those guys, man," Rankins said. "I see the work they put in, I see how hard they get coached, how hard they get pushed. And I see them step up in situations. We needed those big plays on defense to shift the momentum, get the offense back the ball, allow Zach to get rolling.

"And for Echols' pick-six, scoring on defense, that's a gamechanger. You can never have too many of those moments. I'm so happy to see those young guys step up and I hope that continues to breed confidence in their level of play out there."

Of course, big plays aren't just for the young. Rankins fell on his second fumble recovery as a Jet, and his first since the opener at Carolina, when Miami tried a fake punt and the short snap bounced off an unready upback and into Rankins' hands. No matter that it was fourth down, it still counts. Rankins also added the only sack of the Miami QB in two games this year and split a tackle for no gain with C.J. Mosley late in the South Florida afternoon.

And even though the three takeaways didn't change the game into a victory for the Jets, the interceptions especially produced some desired reactions in Tua Tagovailoa that Rankins and company hope will be repeated back home Sunday against the Jaguars and their rookie QB, Trevor Lawrence.

"Anytime you get turnovers, that negates any rhythm an offense can have," he said. "For the most part, offenses work off of rhythm. If you're not allowing them to get into rhythm, now you've got the quarterback second-guessing his reads and that plays into our hands. We can attack, read our keys, play fast, and everybody can get downhill to make plays."

Which led Rankins and his interviewers to another kind of takeaway, the one that people outside the Green & White might acquire based on how the Jets individually and collectively perform in their last three games of the first season of Robert Saleh football.

"To be completely honest, a team that's lost as much as the Jets have, a lot of people don't understand how this league can work sometimes," Rankins said. "You shut it down, throw in the towel these last few games, and you could be jobless in a few months. You could literally be sitting on the couch hoping for a call, because at the end of the day, your tape is your résumé.

"Teams don't know how hard you practice, how nice a guy you are in the building, how smart you are on the board. All they can do is put on the tape, and if the tape don't say enough to make them ask those other questions, it doesn't matter."

By all reports, the Jets' youthful defense and locker room have strong attitudes about not quitting, hanging together and building the culture that Saleh, his coaches and the Jets vets are trying to lay the groundwork for. Mix in a tough closing trio of opponents — the Jaguars, at 2-12 as eager for a win as the 3-11 Jets, followed by Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Buccaneers, then the finale at Buffalo against an 8-6 Bills team fighting for its playoff life with four other 8-6 AFC teams. Throwing in the towel should be an option only for the post-victory shower room.

"This is your livelihood," Rankins said. "You've got a small window in your life to carve out your legacy in this game, make as much money as you can for your family, kids, grandkids, generations to come.

"This is your opportunity. You've got to take full advantage of it."

And that was the final takeaway of the show, offered up by old head Sheldon Rankins for his young teammates as they head toward a showdown with the Jags in Game 15 out of 17.

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