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What’s going on with New York Jets rookie DE Jabari Zuniga?

Jabari Zuniga
(Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Taking a look at the numbers and film behind an eerily silent start to Jabari Zuniga‘s New York Jets career.

Playing time

Jabari Zuniga has played six games in his rookie season to this point, making his NFL debut against the Chiefs in Week 8 and participating in each game since.

Zuniga’s role in the Jets defense has been small. He has played only 84 defensive snaps, an average of 14.0 per game. On average, he has appeared on about 18.5% of the Jets’ defensive plays.

There has not been much fluctuation in Zuniga’s playing time. He played 13.4% of the snaps in his debut against the Chiefs and was only up to 21.9% in his most recent game against the Seahawks. His season-high snap ratio was 23.5% against the Patriots in Week 9, and his season-low was 10.3% against the Raiders in Week 13.


The Jets have had Zuniga playing in a handful of different roles across the line. He has played 40 snaps at defensive end (47.6%), 35 at stand-up outside linebacker (41.6%), and nine at defensive tackle (10.7%). You’ll typically see him at the 5-tech spot (over the offensive tackle’s outside shoulder). If there is a tight end on the line, he’ll usually go outside of the tight end and take the 9-tech spot (over the TE’s outside shoulder). He also plays a good amount of snaps at 4i-tech (over the OT’s inside shoulder).

Zuniga has played the majority of his snaps on the left side of the Jets’ defensive line, lining up on the left side on 68 of his 84 snaps (81.0%).

Zuniga’s role in terms of pass/run has been relatively standard, not heavily favoring one phase or the other. He has rushed the passer on 51 snaps (60.7%), played the run on 32 snaps (38.1%), and dropped into coverage on one snap (1.2%). That is similar to the league-average distribution for edge defenders this season: 57.9% of snaps rushing the passer, 36.6% against the run, and 5.5% in coverage.

The Jets usually rotate Zuniga in for a couple of drives or multi-play sequences per game to give some rest to players like Tarell Basham, Jordan Jenkins, John Franklin-Myers and Henry Anderson, among other members of the defensive front.


Impactful plays have been extremely rare for Zuniga thus far.

In the passing game, Zuniga has recorded only one pressure over 51 pass-rush snaps, a 2.0% rate that ranks fourth-worst among the 147 edge defenders with at least 50 rushes this season.

Against the run, Zuniga has made three tackles over 32 snaps, a rate of 9.4% that ranks 99th among the 138 edge defenders with at least 30 snaps against the run. He also has a missed tackle in this phase.

Film – The Good

Before getting into some of Zuniga’s weaknesses that have led to his unsightly numbers, let’s take a look at some of the positive things he has shown in his limited playing time.

To kick things off, this is probably Zuniga’s most impressive rep of the season, showcasing eye-popping athleticism for a 264-pounder.

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