The New York Jets’ pass rush was good in 2022, but it can become even better
Those rumors were shot down with reports that the Jets turned away all calls for Huff. Still, seeing the pass-rush specialist get more playing time emphasized one of his key superpowers: his get-off from the snap. Joe Blewett highlighted how often Huff beats the offensive lineman off the snap, which contributes to his pass-rushing effectiveness.
Interestingly, Huff’s average get-off time was a bit slower in the preseason (0.759 seconds) than it was in 2022 (0.672). That might have been because Huff’s 2022 mark was the best among 471 edge rushers (min. 150 pass-rush snaps) in five years. Meanwhile, his preseason mark ranked 14th out of 115 edge rushers (min. 25 pass-rush snaps).
Of course, we’re dealing with small sample sizes, both from Huff’s 2022 season and the preseason. He’s a specialist for a reason. Still, Huff’s top-notch get-off produced a 20% pressure rate in the preseason, which ranked eighth out of 115 edge rushers. His snap timing is clearly a big part of his pass-rushing prowess.
What about the rest of the Jets’ defensive linemen, though? How do they time the snap? Does it impact their pass rush proficiency?
The correlation between an edge rusher’s snap timing and quarterback pressure is not as high as you might think. From 2019-22, the R-squared correlation coefficient between snap timing and pressure rate is 0.1457, per NFL Next Gen Stats. That means that 14.57% of the variation in an edge rusher’s pressure rate can be explained by snap timing. The correlation between snap timing and pass rush win rate is slightly stronger at 17.26%.
(That dot in the uppermost left-hand corner on both plots? That’s Bryce Huff’s 2022 season.)
I did not find any correlation between snap count composition (run vs. pass) or weight and get-off time. I suspected that edge defenders who either had to account for the run or were larger for the position would have a slower get-off time, but that does not seem to be the case.
Jets’ edge rushers
Carl Lawson has always been very quick off the snap. From 2019-20 and 2022, he ranked in the 95th, 96th, and 94th percentiles among edge rushers in average get-off. In Cincinnati, it seemed to help him affect the quarterback. In 2019-20, he ranked in the 71st and 93rd percentiles in pressure rate, although his pass rush win rates varied (49th and 96th percentiles, respectively).
In 2022, though, coming off his Achilles tear and a concealed second surgery, Lawson’s pass-rushing effectiveness suffered despite a similarly quick get-off. He ranked in the 53rd percentile in pressure rate despite a 73rd-percentile pass rush win rate. He seemed more one-dimensional as a pass rusher, simply using a bull rush each time rather than varying his moves.
Considering Lawson’s decline in pressure rate with a quick get-off time, it appears that there was more to the story than just snap timing. Specifically, it’s likely that Lawson’s loss of his speed rush mitigated the effect of getting off the snap quickly. Unlike Huff, who used a speed rush or speed-to-power very frequently in 2022, Lawson didn’t use the speed element that much.
John Franklin-Myers‘ numbers are harder to analyze because he’s a tweener, playing both on the edge and the interior. Here are the numbers for his average get-off and pressure rates from both positions.
|Average Get-Off Time (Percentile Rank)||Pressure Rate (Percentile Rank)|
|2020 edge||0.907 (25th if qualified)||7.46% (10th if qualified)|
|2020 interior||0.975 (72nd)||11% (91st)|
|2021 edge||0.944 (23rd)||10.8% (50th)|
|2021 interior||1.04 (58th if qualified)||12.2% (96th if qualified)|
|2022 edge||1.03 (1st)||9.4% (31st)|
|2022 interior||0.955 (88th if qualified)||12.5% (96th if qualified)|
One thing seems clear: Franklin-Myers’ lack of speed off the edge is compounded by a slow get-off. Lacking bend due to his size, he needs every advantage he can get. As an interior pass rusher, he wins with finesse, and his quicker get-off relative to other defensive tackles is likely an advantage.
Jermaine Johnson did not qualify as an edge pass rusher in 2022. Had he qualified, though, his average get-off of 0.945 seconds would have ranked in the 13th percentile. Though the speed rush is not his foremost move, Johnson’s slow get-off likely mitigated the effects of his overall short-area quickness. Therefore, his 9.3% pressure rate (25th percentile if qualified) is unsurprising.
It appears that Johnson has been actively working on this, though. His average get-off in the preseason was 0.778 seconds, which would have ranked in the 86th percentile among qualified edge rushers in 2022. That came on just 40 total snaps, though, including 30 pass-rush snaps, so it’s possible that this stat should be taken with a grain of salt. Still, Johnson’s 20% pressure rate in the preseason is certainly encouraging, especially when taken together with his improved get-off time.
While stacking pass-rush moves is likely more important for Johnson to reach his potential, timing the snap well will allow him to utilize his raw physical gifts more effectively even if his technique is not perfect.
Will McDonald did not time the snap particularly well in college. It showed up numerous times on his film. It seems that Johnson is not the only Jets edge defender who was working on his snap timing, though, as McDonald’s was also solid in the preseason. On 77 total snaps, McDonald’s average get-off was 0.852 seconds, which would have ranked in the 62nd percentile among 2022 qualifiers.
With McDonald’s long arms, multiple pass-rush moves, and absurd ankle flexion and bend, good snap timing is yet another element he can use to destroy blockers.
Micheal Clemons had one of the slowest get-offs in the NFL in 2022. His 0.965 mark would have ranked in the ninth percentile among qualifiers. In the preseason, he posted a 0.967 mark on 45 edge snaps. However, he did show signs of a quicker get-off on the interior, putting up a 0.886 mark (albeit on only 16 snaps). That would have ranked second among all qualified interior defensive linemen in 2022.
Still, Clemons has not been productive either on the edge or the interior as a pass rusher thus far. Here are his pressure rates from the edge and interior in 2022 and the 2023 preseason.
- 2022, exclusively edge: 9% (22nd percentile if qualified)
- 2023 preseason, edge: 3.45% (10th percentile)
- 2023 preseason, interior: 0%
So does it matter?
For most of the Jets’ edge rushers, timing the snap properly seems to make at least somewhat of a difference. This is particularly the case for the rushers who use speed as part of their game, but it can also make a difference for power rushers to get the first half-step.
While it might be hard to emulate Huff’s electric burst off the edge, if Johnson and McDonald can sustain their preseason improvements and Lawson can return to his prior speed-rush moves, the Jets’ pass rush may reach a whole new level.