John Franklin-Myers, NY Jets, Stats, Hits, Sacks, PFF Grade
John Franklin-Myers, New York Jets, Getty Images

New York Jets are getting their money’s worth out of the most expensive unit on the team

No NFL team is spending more money on its defensive line than the New York Jets. They are currently allocating a league-leading $52.1 million in cap space to defensive linemen on their active roster.

Nearly three-quarters of that money goes toward the “Big Three” of Carl Lawson, John Franklin-Myers, and Quinnen Williams.

The aforementioned three defensive linemen have a combined cap hit of $38.4 million this season. They are each among the four most expensive players on the Jets this season in terms of their 2022 cap hit:

  1. DL Carl Lawson ($15.3 million)
  2. WR Corey Davis ($13.3 million)
  3. DL John Franklin-Myers ($12.5 million)
  4. DL Quinnen Williams ($10.6 million)
  5. OL Connor McGovern ($10.3 million)

It’s not often that you see a team with three of its four most expensive players coming from the same position group. When this occurs, it makes it clear that the team has extremely high expectations for that particular unit.

Those expectations are being met in New York. Right now, the Jets are getting their money’s worth out of the defensive line’s Big Three.

Lawson, Franklin-Myers, and Williams form one of the most devastating pass-rush trios in the NFL. Lawson and Williams each have 16 quarterback hits, tying them for second among all defenders behind only Nick Bosa of the 49ers. Franklin-Myers has 10 quarterback hits, tying him for 19th in the league.

Combined, they have racked up 42 quarterback hits – the most of any trio in the league.

Not only is the Lawson-JFM-Williams trio ranked first in quarterback hits, but they have more hits than 16 teams. Their total of 42 hits would rank 17th-best in the NFL at the moment if accumulated by an entire team. The Green Bay Packers rank 17th in the NFL with 41 hits.

Led by the Big Three’s success, the Jets’ defense is laying more shots on opposing quarterbacks than any other team in football. New York leads the NFL with 65 quarterback hits. That’s an average of 8.1 per game, significantly higher than the NFL average of 5.6.

Ranking first in this category is exactly what the Jets pictured coming into the season. They wanted to build their defense around a terrifying pass-rush that created pressure on a consistent basis, preventing opposing quarterbacks from getting comfortable in the pocket. New York has gotten just that.

The Jets’ sack production can catch up to their hit production, but the sack numbers are strong nonetheless. New York is tied for ninth in sacks with 21. The Lawson-JFM-Williams trio has the same ranking, placing ninth-best among trios with 12.5 sacks.

Things are trending up for the Jets’ sack production, though. New York has 16 sacks over its past five games (3.2 per game) after collecting just five sacks over its first three (1.7 per game). For perspective, 3.2 sacks per game would rank fourth-best in the NFL this season while 1.7 sacks per game would rank 28th.

The Big Three is responsible for the vast majority of that plus-1.5 jump in sacks per game, as they have experienced a plus-1.4 increase. Lawson, Franklin-Myers, and Williams only combined for 2.0 sacks over the first three games (0.7 per game as a trio). They have skyrocketed to 10.5 sacks over the past five (2.1 per game).

This uptick in sack production coincides with the arrival of edge rusher Bryce Huff.

After being inactive for the Jets’ first three games, the Jets added Huff to the lineup in Week 4, and he has been a regular in the pass-rush rotation ever since. Being used as a third-down pass-rush specialist, Huff has often played alongside the Lawson-JFM-Williams trio in obvious passing situations. His explosiveness and his ability to defeat blockers at a high rate have helped the Big Three convert more of their pass-rush wins into sacks.

With Huff likely to earn more reps going forward due to the trade of Jacob Martin, the Jets’ Big Three may soon become a Fantastic Four.

The Jets have seen a lot of cap space go to waste over the years. For a change, they are finally getting bang for their buck from the highest-paid players on the payroll. This defensive line is getting paid to be one of the best in the league, and so far, it has lived up to expectations.

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Michael Nania is one of the best analytical New York Jets minds in the world, combining his statistical expertise with game film to add proper context to the data. Nania scrapes every corner, ensuring you know all there is to know about everyone from the QB to the long snapper. Nania's Numbers, Nania's QB Grades, and Nania's All-22 give fans a deeper and more well-rounded dive into the Jets than anyone else can offer. Email: michael.nania[at]jetsxfactor.com - Twitter: @Michael_Nania
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Allison Scott
Allison Scott
22 days ago

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Last edited 22 days ago by Allison Scott
DFargas
DFargas
25 days ago

Question: how “essential” is quarterback hits if the refs don’t let you hit the QB hard, as illustrated by the ridiculous JFM penalty in the Patriots game? I thought the idea was to rattle the QB and throwing him off his game, if not injuring him (to be honest). But if you’re merely shoving him or tossing him lightly to the ground, all you’re doing is reminding him he’s on a football field. Getting hit without getting hurt is something some QBs might even like, to make them feel like they’re completely in the game.

Rich
Rich
26 days ago

I don’t think you can under-estimate the huge effect on the pass rush of having two really outstanding corners this year. Makes a world of difference.

Jets71
Jets71
26 days ago

Unfortunately one of those “hits” cost them a big INT return for TD. I still haven’t recovered. You’re right this is what they wanted and expected when they put all this cash into those guys. It’s clearly helped the secondary and the secondary upgrades are helping them.

One thing I will say as I listened to your podcast after a long day Sunday is that you and Ben both thought the D did they job and then some. I disagree. If you look back to that first half especially there were WAAAYYY too many 3rd and long conversions and a couple of second and long situations they gave up big yards to turn what would have been a 3rd and long into 3rd and short.

Mac Jones also escaped too many times to gain big yards or pick up first downs. Look at the Jets’ starting field position as well. You’ll see what I mean.

I realize you’re going to say well look at what they did after the turnovers etc. but hear me out: We evaluate every snap from Zach and we compare it to what we want from a second overall pick and franchise QB. We need to do the exact same for the defense. Evaluate EVERY snap. If they are pouring all that money into the DL and this is supposed to be a “great defense” then in my opinion they have to shut the door more often.

Yes, it’s tough grading standards but everyone is blaming last week’s loss on one guy, so if that’s the case, then that JFM hit is as bad as ANY INT. It cost them 6 points, allowed 3 to NE, and there was a possible PAT for the Jets.

Yes this group has been very good. I want to see more timely plays. I don’t want to see Mac freakin Jones escape the pocket and rush for 13 yards on second and 15. Don’t get me wrong, I’m thrilled with this group, but to be fair there is meat on the bone for them too.

PS. PLEASE do an eval on McGovern. This isn’t personal but I’m so tired of watching him standing in the middle of the OL looking for someone to block while the guys to his left and right are getting taken to the woodshed and their DL ends up in Zach’s lap!!!! If there is confusion, he’s the center isn’t he responsible to fix it????? UGH!!!!!!! I’m so over him. We need a better center.

dudizt
dudizt
26 days ago
Reply to  Jets71

Completely disagree with you. The defense is judge by how many points they give up. If I remember, there were 5-6 drives that started in Jets territory. The Jets held the pats to 5 field goals and a questionable TD ( I’m adamant that was a terrible missed offensive PI).

This defense is bend don’t break and they will give up some yards. But holding teams to field goals is how you win in the league. The offenses are too good and the rules are designed to favor scoring.

Jets71
Jets71
26 days ago
Reply to  dudizt

I appreciate your outlook, I just think the bend don’t break doesn’t mean giving up 3rd and long 3 times on the same drive. That’s why all the money and importance of the DL must be considered. Those 3rd and long plays are for sacks and pass break ups, not bend but don’t break. Also, complimentary football doesn’t mean giving the offense the ball 70-80 yards to go, drive after drive. They way to win in this league is for the D to get off the field on 3rd and long.

Your point is correct about the offenses. They are too good to let them just complete pass after pass thinking you can let them get in flow then stop them deep. My point is: it’s not good to have a dominating pass rush if they can’t get off the field on 3rd and long.

100% missed call on the OPI. I am just as adamant one of those INT’s the players was out of bounds.

Matt Galemmo
Matt Galemmo
26 days ago
Reply to  Jets71

I’m too lazy to go back and look, but I remember thinking, sometime in the first half, “damn, the Patriot wide receivers are really good blockers.” I remember it this way: there were a bunch of throws behind the sticks that you wouldn’t expect to become first downs, but they did because of outstanding blocking. Sometimes the opponent just deserves credit, and there’s not much the defensive line can do about quick, short passes. The secondary also adjusted; those plays didn’t happen in the second half.

You specifically mention scramble plays, and I do recall one, but that happens sometimes. Credit Jones for taking it; if Zach does that, on 4th-and-5 with 8 minutes left in the game, maybe the Jets figure out a way to win! It’s pretty hard to find fault with Sunday’s defensive performance.

Jets71
Jets71
26 days ago
Reply to  Matt Galemmo

Fair…I also notice the blocking.

dudizt
dudizt
26 days ago
Reply to  Jets71

The pats have always designed plays like that where the WR to a running a crossed, it’s one read and all the other receivers know they are meant to block for him. That’s why the blocking looks so good but they are always teetering on OPI as well.

Jets71
Jets71
25 days ago
Reply to  dudizt

Always on the edge. The theory being they won’t call it every time. Show it so much it becomes normal. Drives me crazy!

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
19 days ago
Reply to  dudizt

Matt, my only other concern aside from 3rd to 1st is waiting till halftime to make adjustments.
We’ve seen them come out and dominate after making adjustments. I think of the mid 80s Giants when Bellicheck would gather his troops and draw up schemes in the dirt.
Maybe this team is too young to do these things on the fly but getting some adjustments after the 1st Q…ala 86 Giants would cut some points off the board earlier which could be the difference in the game.
The D basically shut down the Bikks after halftime.
Cutting out that 2nd TD in the 2nd Q gives us a lead going into the half

Jonathan Richter
Jonathan Richter
25 days ago
Reply to  Jets71

I agree that the D was good but not great. Way too many 3rd downs given up, JFM’s penalty, CJ Mosely’s dropped INT, and maybe the worst was letting NE open the 2nd half with a TD drive, aided by a squibbed kickoff that gave them great field position. I’ll give them a B+. Should have been good enough to win, had either Zach or ST come to play.

Last edited 25 days ago by Jonathan Richter
Peter Buell
Peter Buell
25 days ago
Reply to  Jets71

It’s ironic and a bit funny that if the Jets D began every defense session on the scoring 35 they probably hold to field goals 80% of the time with a couple knock backs out of FG range.
Start at the 25 as normal, just wasting energy and ti e the O could be in the field.lol

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
25 days ago
Reply to  dudizt

Every 3rd down completed is longer the D is on the firmed and less time the O.
Rarely see 3 and outs.

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
19 days ago
Reply to  dudizt

I agree with 71 to a point. Yes! Holding offenses these days to 3 is huge but taking so long because of 3rd into 1st downs, especially when it’s 2nd and 17 or 3rd and 8 and there is a WR wide open 8 years down field.
It reduces the time the offense has the ball and how long the D IS on the field.
I know blitzing is frowned upon in Saleh and Ubrech’s D, but mixing up the looks and sending a safety should be done in some occasions.
Since it’s done so little, it should succeed more than it fails especially against mediocre QBs

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
25 days ago
Reply to  Jets71

Line dosent matter…it’s Zacks fault every time

Jonathan Richter
Jonathan Richter
25 days ago
Reply to  Peter Buell

C’mon, man. I agree the Pats game was a disaster for Zach, but it hasn’t all been on him. We still could have won that game if not for JFMs penalty OR if the Special Teams had played at their usual special level. But ST gave away 6pts on a missed FG and a huge NE punt return to around the Jets 25, resulting in a FG. Zach hasn’t been good in any games except for Miami and the 4th quarter in Pittsburgh, but he wasn’t THIS bad in any other game. He’s barely played one season’s worth of games. Give him time.

Peter Buell
Peter Buell
19 days ago

I was being sarcastic but I see how that could be misunderstood