NFL Network analytics expert Cynthia Frelund and three-time Pro Bowl CB DeAngelo Hall recently broke down how free-agent signings WR Corey Davis and edge rusher Carl Lawson will improve the Jets in the 2021 season.
Speaking of Davis, Frelund mentioned his success on play-action targets. He had 544 receiving yards last season from play action, the fourth-most in the NFL behind Stefon Diggs, Calvin Ridley and DeAndre Hopkins. Diggs led the NFL in receiving yards and receptions, Ridley finished No. 6 in yards, and Hopkins No. 2 in receptions and No. 3 in yards.
"The interesting part here is the fit," Frelund said. "You have Mike LaFleur, who as a passing-game coordinator the last three seasons with the 49ers, he used play action on almost 28% of drop backs, the seventh-highest rate in the NFL."
Hall added: "When you talk about Corey Davis and the reason he's able to get a lot of those play-action passes is because he comes from an offense that runs the football. You talk about scheme fit and I absolutely love it. Robert Saleh went and got him a receiver that's not going to mind sitting out there and crack down on a safety because he knows at some point in that play-action-pass game, he's going to get an opportunity to win one-on-one. When you watch Corey Davis play, you think he's a little fast dude, but he's 6-3, 210. So a real big body who can sink down and break off routes. I think they got a steal. I really love Corey Davis as a scheme fit and just the way he goes and approaches the game of football. I love his competitive nature."
Hall is also a big fan of what Lawson will add to the defense. While he has only 20 career sacks, his 54 QB hits over the past two seasons is second among NFL D-linemen to the Chargers' Joey Bosa. Lawson also led the NFL with 32 QB hits in the 2020 season and led the Bengals with 5.5 sacks.
"In this league, you have to be able to rush the quarterback and Carl Lawson has shown that he's been able to do that in this league," Hall said. "He doesn't have the sack numbers, but he has the pressures. Sometimes you don't have those sack numbers because maybe the coverage on the back end doesn't give you the time to get there. But one thing we know, he will get after the quarterback and he will hit the quarterback. I love this move for the Jets. Robert Saleh is probably thinking, 'If I can get some guys who can cover on the back end or have another guy opposite him to keep applying that pressure as a pass rush, we have a chance to be really successful.' We know how those 49ers and that Seattle style of defense attacks people with the front four and let the guys on the back end just go make plays. Carl Lawson allows the Jets to be able to do that."
Frelund added: "[The Jets] are getting almost a 13% pressure rate from last season. This could be even higher as a Jet. He was 13th in the NFL at 12.7 percent of pass rushes that he was able to generate pressure. The Jets didn't have anyone with over a 10% pressure rate in 2020. Quinnen Williams, who was injured for part of the year, only had 9.6%, so you need to add the edge. You have to get that pressure."