The New York Jets’ most stacked unit took care of business against Buffalo’s most questionable unit
By far, the New York Jets‘ largest advantage over the Buffalo Bills heading into Monday night was their defensive front against Buffalo’s offensive front. And, boy, did the Jets take advantage.
Not only did the Jets sack Allen five times, but more importantly, they applied constant pressure on him throughout the game. New York’s defensive linemen combined for 29 pressures, per PFF, ranking as the third-most among all DL units in Week 1. Their 14.0% pressure rate ranked fifth-best.
Quinnen Williams wasted no time proving that he deserves his $96 million contract. Williams tied for fifth among defensive tackles with five pressures. Not only that, but he added two tackles for loss against the run, tying for the most among DTs. Williams was the only DT in the NFL with 5+ pressures and 2+ TFLs against the run.
Notably, Williams enjoyed a large boost to his snap count – something both he and Jets fans alike have long been yearning for. Williams played 75% of the Jets’ defensive snaps, the third-highest rate of his career and higher than any game in 2022. It’s a 10% boost compared to his 2022 season average of 65%.
What matters more than the snap count itself is the fact that Williams maintained a high level of efficiency with the larger workload.
With five pressures on 40 pass-rush snaps, Williams recorded a pressure rate of 12.5%, which is basically identical to his 2022 season average (12.4%). The fear of increasing a player’s reps is that his efficiency will decline. For at least one week, Williams proved that is not an issue for him. If he can continue maintaining elite efficiency on a high volume throughout the season, he is going to post even better numbers than he did last year.
Quinton Jefferson joined Williams on the inside to form a stellar interior pass rushing duo. Jefferson matched Williams’ five pressures despite playing 15 fewer pass-rush snaps (40 for Williams, 25 for Jefferson). The duo’s combined total of 10 pressures tied them for third-best among DT duos in Week 1.
The real star of the show was John Franklin-Myers. He finished the game with eight pressures, tying him for the most in the NFL among all defensive players (with Jalen Carter and Arden Key). Franklin-Myers had one sack, one hit, and six hurries. As per usual, he did damage from multiple positions, as he lined up on the interior in passing situations and on the edge in most other situations.
Bryce Huff picked up where he left off as a situational edge rusher, recording four pressures on 22 pass-rush snaps (18.2% pressure rate).
Jermaine Johnson picked up a sack in his season debut, although his overall performance was a mixed bag. While Johnson had three pressures, which ties his season-high from 2022, he played a career-high 37 pass-rush snaps (largely due to Carl Lawson’s absence) – more than double his total from any game last year (season-high was 18). His 8.1% pressure rate against Buffalo was actually lower than his rookie-year rate of 9.3%. The 2022 NFL average for edge rushers was 10.8%.
Johnson’s consistency as a rusher still needs improvement. However, with his athleticism, length, and high motor, he will rack up plenty of hustle sacks like the one he reeled in against Buffalo.
Here are some other pass rush numbers from the game:
- Micheal Clemons: 1 pressure on 13 pass-rush snaps
- Al Woods: 1 on 13
- Solomon Thomas: 1 on 12
- Will McDonald: 0 on 10
Overall, the Jets’ defensive line was dominant, taking full advantage of a favorable matchup against Buffalo’s shaky offensive line. If the defensive line can continue maximizing its mismatches on a weekly basis – and they will have a lot of mismatches due to their supreme talent level – the Jets will have a chance to win every game they play this year.
The scary thing is, the unit wasn’t even close to its full potential. Carl Lawson was out while Jermaine Johnson and Will McDonald still have plenty of room to grow.
Lawson’s return should provide a significant boost against Dallas this week. I think Lawson and Johnson can help each other out. When both players are active, they each can be placed in their ideal role.
Johnson’s year-two progress should allow him to take on more snaps than he did last year, which in turn can allow Lawson to play a smaller role, helping Lawson to stay fresh, maximize his efficiency, and preserve his health.
As for Johnson, Lawson’s return should kick him back into a role that makes more sense for him. While Johnson certainly deserves to play more than he did as a rookie (34% of the snaps), the 71% snap ratio he recorded against Buffalo is probably too high for him until he shows further development. Johnson will likely be much more efficient with a smaller role.
New York wants to win games on the strength of its defensive front. Week 1 was a perfect display of that formula in action.