The New York Jets can significantly boost the upside of their defense with a few changes to the way they allocate snaps.
Let’s take a look at the Jets’ snap counts on defense, offense, and special teams in their season-opening loss to Buffalo.
- LB Neville Hewitt: 87 snaps (100%)
- S Marcus Maye: 87 (100%)
- CB Blessuan Austin: 86 (99%)
- S Bradley McDougald: 86 (99%)
- CB Brian Poole: 86 (99%)
- LB Harvey Langi: 83 (95%)
- CB Nate Hairston: 51 (59%)
- DT Quinnen Williams: 50 (57%)
- EDGE Tarell Basham: 47 (54%)
- EDGE Kyle Phillips: 41 (47%)
- CB Pierre Desir: 35 (40%)
- EDGE Jordan Willis: 35 (40%)
- DT Nathan Shepherd: 34 (39%)
- DT Henry Anderson: 32 (37%)
- EDGE Jordan Jenkins 31 (36%)
- DT Steve McLendon: 31 (36%)
- DT Folorunso Fatukasi: 31 (36%)
- EDGE Frankie Luvu: 21 (24%)
- LB Blake Cashman: 3 (3%)
Changes need to be made on the edge
It will take major investments in the coming offseason to truly fix their dormant edge rush. There isn’t an overnight solution to this unit’s severe lack of raw talent.
However, for the time being, the Jets have to do the best they can to maximize what they have. A few changes have to be made in order for them to ensure the unit’s ceiling is pushed as high as it can possibly go under the current circumstances.
Jordan Willis and Frankie Luvu have little reason to be getting time on defense. The pair combined for zero sacks, zero hits, and two hurries over 29 pass rush snaps against Buffalo. They also each missed a tackle. Over their careers, they have combined for seven sacks over 1,628 defensive snaps. For perspective, that’s an average of 3.0 sacks per 700 snaps, which is the typical full-season snap count for a starting EDGE.
It is nearly impossible to get production any worse than that, so it’s time to shoot for some upside. Activating John Franklin-Myers and Bryce Huff to the active roster over Willis and Luvu would be an excellent way to give this unit some juice.
In his 2018 rookie season with the Rams, Franklin-Myers ranked at the 71st percentile among edge rushers with a 12.4% pressure rate. Huff ranked fourth in college football with 64 pressures last year.
Until the Jets activate one of these two, there is little reason to believe that their edge rush will get any better. There’s nobody else with untapped potential on the roster. Of course, there is no guarantee that Franklin-Myers or Huff will even be competent if thrown out there, but what is guaranteed is that they will not be any worse than the alternatives.
Luvu and Willis produce nothing and offer no upside. Roll the dice on some young players with legitimate potential. Most likely, five of the die’s six sides will yield the same result as before, but the other will yield just a small tad of much-needed burst off the edge. That beats the current predicament, where the Jets are constantly flipping a double-sided coin in which the only outcome is a silent pass rush.
The same can be done at cornerback
Gregg Williams wisely did not hesitate to pull Pierre Desir from the game after 35 horrendous snaps. Desir allowed 4-of-4 passing for 35 yards, two first downs, and two touchdowns over 24 snaps in coverage. He also committed two penalties that moved the chains, bringing his total to six first downs allowed in one half. Constantly lining up 10-to-15 yards off the line of scrimmage, Desir was handing out freebie first downs like candy on Halloween.
Williams’ choice to replace Desir was Nate Hairston, who was better than Desir by default but still struggled. Hairston allowed 3-of-3 passing for 33 yards and three first downs while adding in a pass interference call.
Just as they can on the edge, the Jets can significantly boost the upside of this fledgling position with one simple switch.