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Jets Defense Led by Quinnen Williams and Revamped Jets Pass Rush

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Entering the 2022 NFL season, Robert Saleh and Joe Douglas knew the Jets defense needed to be better. While the team made a few splashy moves in the secondary, Saleh knew that the Jets pass rush was the key to a successful season. With Quinnen Williams enjoying a strong start, the Jets pass rush appears ready to bring the entire Jets defense to the next level.

Understanding The Approach

For the Jets defense to be successful under Saleh and defensive coordinator, Jeff Ulbrich, the Jets pass rush has to find a way to pressure the quarterback without the help of additional blitzers. To do this, the Jets’ defense has seen heavy investment in the depth on the defensive line.

With multiple productive Jets pass rushers, the goal is to rotate the players amongst the line to always have players at near-full energy ready to blitz the quarterback. As games progress to the second half and offensive lines get tired, the energized Jets defense is ready to strike.

Meanwhile, bringing fewer Jets pass rushers allows the secondary to sit back and make plays on any errant throws. Against Pittsburgh, this approach allowed the Jets secondary to intercept four Steelers’ passes.

On this play, you can see the Jets only bringing 4 pass rushers and dropping the rest of the defenders to play the pass. With Jacob Martin and Michael Clemons beating the Steelers tackles, promising Steelers rookie Kenny Pickett forces the ball resulting in an interception for Michael Carter II.

The New York Jets Pass Rush

To build this pass rush, the Jets have seen the continued emergence of their star, a partner in crime that is finally healthy, and multiple new and exciting additions.

The “Oldest” Guys in the Room

The Jets pass rush is led by Quinnen Williams, who is suddenly one of the longest-tenured players on the Jets roster. Through the first four weeks of the season, Williams has one of the highest pressure rates of all interior defensive linemen, and his 3 sacks have him amongst the positional leaders.

Joining Quinnen Williams is John Franklin-Myers, who joined Williams in the backfield frequently and earned a 75 PFF grade for the game.

The Debut in Season Two

Last year, when the Jets added Carl Lawson, they hoped he could be the first real pass rusher in a decade. Instead, they saw him go down with a torn ACL putting his debut on hold for a year. This year, Lawson has taken some time to shake the rust, but he proved to be a problem for the Steelers offensive line. Lining up next to Quinnen Williams should be a scary sight for opposing QBs.

Outside of a critical penalty, Lawson picked up a sack and served as a frequent backfield pest for Pittsburgh.

The New Guys

Joining the Jets pass rush this season are a couple of vets looking to give the Jets defense some added depth. Joining the defensive line are Solomon Thomas and Jacob Martin, who both played in over 36% of the snaps against Pittsburgh.

Veteran additions weren’t the only way the Jets defense received a boost this year. Jermaine Johnson and Michael Clemons have been quite the problem for defensive lines. Johnson has been one of the top defensive rookies in PFF’s rankings with a 74.5 grade, while Clemons is just slightly behind him at 70.1

Looking Ahead

Quinnen Williams and the Jets defense have 8 sacks on the season, which has them tied for 17th in the NFL. While there is still quite a bit of room for improvement, it is leaps and bounds better than the Jets’ defense of the past few years. The team finished 26th last season, 21st in 2020, and 23rd in 2019. In fact, you have to go back to 2015 to find a Jets team that finished in the top half of the NFL for sacks.

While the team still has a ways to go, the improvements across the Jets pass rush should make the Jets a much more competitive team in 2022. Let us know your thoughts on Quinnen Williams and the Jets’ defense in the comments below!

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Stephen Leonardi is a passionate Yankees, Jets, Devils and Nets fans. He is an avid writer covering his favorite teams and interesting topics around his favorite sports.