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B.J. Goodson’s numbers suggest he’ll provide LB upgrade for NY Jets

BJ Goodson, NY Jets, Stats, Contract
BJ Goodson, NY Jets, Getty Images

New York Jets LB B.J. Goodson’s career background

On Tuesday, the New York Jets signed linebacker B.J. Goodson as one of four additions to their active roster.

Goodson was taken by the New York Giants with the 109th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL draft. The Clemson product played 37 games over three seasons with the Giants, staring 20 of those.

New York traded Goodson to Green Bay prior to the 2019 season. Goodson played in 15 games and started 13 for the Packers.

Goodson joined the Browns in 2020 and had the best season of his career. He started all 14 games he appeared in and was more efficient and productive than ever before.

Let’s dig into the numbers that Jets fans need to know about Goodson.

Elite tackling

One thing that Goodson has done at a high level throughout his entire career is finish tackles. He has whiffed only 5.6% of his career tackle opportunities, a rate that is substantially better than the 2020 NFL average for linebackers (10.7%). His career-worst rate is a 7.8% in 2018 – still very good.

Goodson has just 13 missed tackles over 2,003 defensive snaps in his career, an average of one every 154.1 snaps.

Improvement in coverage

Goodson was a bad coverage linebacker early in his career and has gradually improved each year until becoming one of the league’s more productive coverage linebackers in 2020.

In his first season as a starter in 2017, Goodson earned a Pro Football Focus coverage grade of 41.9, ranking 89th out of 99 qualified linebackers – one spot ahead of Jets linebacker Darron Lee.

Goodson improved his coverage grade to 59.3 in 2018 and up again to 64.8 in 2019. In 2020, he posted another career-high grade of 66.6, which ranked 26th out of 99 qualifiers (74th percentile).

Goodson collected six passes defended in 2020, tying for eighth-most among linebackers. He recorded two interceptions and four pass breakups while helping the Browns allow the eighth-fewest receiving yards (31.4 per game) and third-fewest receiving touchdowns (1) to running backs.

Over the past three seasons, Goodson was a monster in man coverage. In man-to-man situations since 2018, Goodson has allowed 7-of-15 passes in his direction to be completed for 50 yards (3.3 per target), no touchdowns, and two interceptions (15.3 passer rating). He also had three pass breakups.

Decent run defense

Here is a look at Goodson’s year-by-year PFF run defense grades and where they ranked among qualified linebackers:

  • 2020: 60.5 (33rd out of 99 – 67th percentile)
  • 2019: 56.8 (62nd out of 100 – 38th percentile)
  • 2018: 67.8 (35th out of 94 – 63rd percentile)
  • 2017: 70.5 (33rd out of 99 – 67th percentile)

Goodson has tended to fare well against the run. He is not a playmaker in the phase, ranking near the bottom of the league in run-stop frequency in each of the past four seasons, but his excellent tackling consistency makes up for it.

In three of the past four seasons, Goodson ranked as one of the league’s top-15 most efficient tackling linebackers against the run.

Poor blitzing

Goodson is not much of a threat when sent after the quarterback. He has 12 pressures on 120 career pass-rush snaps, a pressure rate of 10.0%. The 2020 league average for linebackers was 14.3%.

Over those 120 opportunities, Goodson could only manage a pair of half-sacks.


Goodson has a reliable track record of durability. He has played in 44 out of 48 possible regular season games over the past three seasons. Two of his four missed games were due to COVID-19 last year.

In 2017, Goodson missed eight games over three separate stints due to ankle and shin injuries. Outside of that season, though, he has played in 59 out of 64 possible regular season games.


Goodson played in a 4-3 defense with the Browns last year. He primarily served as Cleveland’s MIKE linebacker. That is likely the role he will assume in the Jets’ defense, as starting MIKE linebacker Jamien Sherwood is expected to miss “a couple weeks” with a sprained ankle.

Goodson also offers the unique ability to play in the slot once in a while. He lined up in the slot on 98 plays last year, making up 11.6% of his defensive snaps.

It will be interesting to see how the Jets handle the linebacker position once Sherwood returns. If Goodson produces at the level he did for the Browns last year, would the Jets really bench him for the fifth-round rookie who is still early in his transition from the safety position?

That would be a tough sell to the fanbase and locker room (again, if Goodson plays well), but the team’s entire team-building mantra this year has been long-term-centric with fairly limited regard to the present, so Sherwood could certainly get his spot right back no matter how well Goodson plays.

Things will be shaken up even more once Jarrad Davis returns from injured reserve, which should occur soon after the Week 6 bye.

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Keith Beckett
Keith Beckett
2 years ago

Goodson is a talented player who has improved each of his 4 seasons, I would like to see LB E. Sullivan get a tryout too (if available ) ? Good signing and as said above, hard to believe he was available.

2 years ago

Hard to believe that Goodson is still available, good linebacker with starting experience, could be a keeper. Jets paid a little over market, but obtained the young LB because a dozen teams are so CAP strapped that they had difficulty doing this deal . Good CAP management by the Jets made this acquisition possible. The Jets are almost out of bucks because of Dead Cap charges and the increasing cost of IR. Remember when the Jets were accused of being cheap, when the wouldn’t pull the trigger on a 15M CB. The Jets have exhausted their resources, to build this roster. Think they did a good job