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.
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:
- DL Carl Lawson ($15.3 million)
- WR Corey Davis ($13.3 million)
- DL John Franklin-Myers ($12.5 million)
- DL Quinnen Williams ($10.6 million)
- 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.