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Williams & Wilkerson Remain Focused on Wins

Jets D-Line Focused on Team Stats, Wants to Force Opponents in Third-and-Longs


Even though Jets defensive linemen Leonard Williams and Muhammad Wilkerson hope the sacks will eventually come, both defenders remain more concerned about collective goals.

"That's a single stat. It doesn't define my game," Williams told reporters in the locker room Thursday. "That single stat doesn't show who I am as a player. My teammates know how hard I come to work every day and know I'll work hard and take care of my game.

"Of course we all want individual stats, but at the end of the day victory is what matters the most and I feel like that's going to come by just keep doing my job. I can't try too hard and do something I'm not supposed to be doing. It might cost one of my other teammates, so I'm going to just keep playing team football."

The third-year pro, who led the Jets with 7.5 sacks in 2016, paces the team with seven quarterback hits entering Week 7. Neither Williams, who sprained his wrist in the preseason, nor Wilkerson, who hasn't practiced the past two weeks because of shoulder and toe ailments, are using their injuries as excuses for their sackless starts.

"We have to do better," Wilkerson said this week. "We talked about that with our D-Line coaches and amongst ourselves. There are a lot of games left, so all we have to do is keep working at it."

The group says generating a pass rush starts against the run. In order to rush the quarterback, they want to pin teams in third-and-long situations. However, the Jets haven't had many opportunities to do so as their rush defense ranks No. 28 in the NFL. The unit will face a tough test this weekend in Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi, whom the team held to a season-low 16 yards on 11 carries in Week 3. The Green & White recorded three sacks against Miami in their first matchup, winning the early downs and holding the visitors to 1-of-12 on third-down conversions. Additionally, the Dolphins could be without center Mike Pouncey, who hasn't practiced this week (concussion/hip).

Defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers said both Williams and Wilkerson are playing true team defense and doing everything the coaches ask.

"I think sacks just come and sometimes they come in bunches," Rodgers said. "I've been a front coach for a long time and sometimes you'll have zero, then you'll have six next game. Those guys have to just keep working at it, work at their craft and they'll be fine."

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