The New York Jets’ all-time starting defense includes a scary front seven and Jamal Adams, already the best safety in team history.
Football is a game played 11 on 11, identical to soccer, which, considering both sports, is as contrasting a thought as could possibly exist. But unlike other sports, such as MLB, NBA or NHL, football’s 11-man units are rarely confined to just 11 individuals.
The ability to substitute on every play coupled with new trends such as the running back by committee, the defensive line rotation, and the subpackage have really upped the standard offensive or defensive unit to well beyond 11 players.
It’s why, usually, all-time teams include much more than 11 players per squad. After all, how does anybody decide the base? Pro personnel (21) was once the undoubted base. Nowadays, it’s all about the three-wide receiver, one-back, one-tight end set (11 personnel).
Then again, the exclusivity of “11” sounds extraordinarily tempting, especially as it pertains to the New York Jets.
The following is the Jets’ all-time starting defense.
Defensive End: Mark Gastineau
Perhaps no Jets defender has even dominated the league for a specific stretch like this man (this side of a certain shutdown corner who comes to mind). Mark Gastineau is the organization’s all-time sack leader (74) and this excludes any prior to 1982 (three seasons).
The three-time first-team All-Pro set an NFL single-season record with 22 sacks in 1984 and followed it up with another 13.5 the next campaign. He also came away with a cool 19 in ’83.
Gastineau is a lock starter—despite that sinful dancing Jets fans unapologetically loved.
Defensive Tackle: Joe Klecko
Joe Klecko is the only man to make a Pro Bowl at every one of the four defensive line spots, and it remains the greatest shame that he still hasn’t been enshrined into Canton.
We have our choice at which position to place Klecko; defensive tackle is perfect, as that was probably his best position (the 3-to-5 technique area). In 1982, Klecko racked up an unofficial 20.5 sacks. Coupled with Gastineau’s 20, the New York Sack Exchange was identified and eventually flourished for most of the decade.