Bryce Huff is rewarding the New York Jets’ faith
Last week, we discussed how the New York Jets finally began to fully unleash their best pass rusher, Bryce Huff. The Jets started trusting Huff to play on first and second down more often, which allowed him to log more pass-rush snaps for the relatively modest price of playing him against the run more frequently.
In the Week 4 game against Kansas City, Huff played 39% of the Jets’ defensive snaps, his highest percentage since the Jets moved him into a pass-rush specialist role at the start of the 2022 season. Huff maximized the opportunity by posting career-highs of seven total pressures and a 38.9% pressure rate (per PFF).
This wasn’t just a one-off. In their next game against Denver, the Jets increased their faith in Huff even further by pushing him up to 44% of the defensive snaps.
And how did Huff respond? Well, all he did was raise the bar again.
Against the Broncos, Huff beat his career-highs in total pressures and pressure rate for the second consecutive week, racking up eight total pressures on a 40% pressure rate.
For perspective on how dominant these performances were, consider that the league-average pressure rate for edge rushers in the 2022 season was 10.8%. Huff more than tripled that number in each of his two games since the Jets began expanding his snap count.
On the year, Huff now stands alone as the most efficient pass rusher in football. Despite being 60th among edge rushers in pass-rush snaps (87), Huff is seventh in total pressures (26). Huff’s 29.9% pressure rate ranks first among all defensive players in the NFL with at least 30 pass-rush snaps, regardless of position. That’s out of 280 qualified players.
Here are the league leaders in total pressures, alongside the number of pass-rush snaps they have played:
- 1. Aidan Hutchinson, DET (35) – 210 pass-rush snaps
- 2. Maxx Crosby, LV (34) – 182
- 3. Micah Parsons, DAL (29) – 142
- T4. Chase Young, WAS (27) – 129
- T4. Nick Bosa, SF (27) – 159
- T4. T.J. Watt, PIT (27) – 179
- 7. Bryce Huff, NYJ (26) – 87
And here are the league leaders in pressure rate among edge rushers (min. 50 pass-rush snaps):
- 1. Bryce Huff, NYJ (29.9%) – 26 pressures on 87 pass-rush snaps
- 2. Rashan Gary, GB (25.6%) – 20 on 78
- 3. Myles Garrett, CLE (21.5%) – 23 on 107
- 4. Chase Young, WAS (20.9%) – 27 on 129
- 5. Josh Uche, NE (20.5%) – 16 on 78
- 6. Micah Parsons, DAL (20.4%) – 29 on 142
- 7. Maxx Crosby, LV (18.7%) – 34 on 182
- 8. Victor Dimukeje, ARI (18.5%) – 12 on 65
- 9. Tanoh Kpassagnon, NO (18.4%) – 14 on 76
- 10. John Franklin-Myers, NYJ (17.9%) – 22 on 123
In the past, you could put an asterisk on Huff’s numbers when comparing him to his peers since he was playing a very specific role that aided his ability to create pressure. But now, Huff is playing a more traditional role that can be compared fairly against most other players. He’s playing a larger volume of snaps (not as well-rested as he was) and more early-down snaps (actually has to respect the threat of the run). Yet, he’s only been more dominant than he was before.
It’s clear by this point: The man is a flat-out elite pass rusher. Plain and simple.
In Denver, Huff continued proving why he deserves an expanded role that includes plenty of snaps on first and second down. Of Huff’s 27 snaps, 17 of them came on first or second down. He made a bunch of big plays on those added early-down snaps.
Most notably, Huff recorded a dominant sack on a first-and-10 play. This sack would not have happened if the Jets adhered to Huff’s old role.
Sheeesh, Bryce Huff. First he wins with the cross chop, swatting down with 2 hands to defeat the RT's outside arm. Then, feeling the RT leaning, he stops his momentum and just throws him out of the way. But he keeps his balance and contorts back to trip Russ as he scrambles. 😱 pic.twitter.com/d6MDLLAD3x
— Michael Nania (@Michael_Nania) October 9, 2023
Here’s another impact play that would not have happened if the Jets restricted Huff solely to obvious passing situations. On second-and-12, Huff beats the right tackle to the inside with an arm-over move, pressuring Russell Wilson into a dump-off that gets stopped by C.J. Mosley for a two-yard loss.
As for Huff’s impact on the run game, it has not been a problem just yet. So far, there doesn’t appear to be any reason for the Jets to fear having Huff on the field for run plays.
Huff was on the field for six designed run plays against Denver. Those plays resulted in 48 yards, which is an average of 8.0 yards per play, but 38 of those came on one play, and that run went to the opposite side of Huff (who had no role in it whatsoever). Other than that, Denver only gained 10 yards on the other five run plays with Huff on the field.
You can see that Huff is on the back side of this 38-yard run by Jaleel McLaughlin and does not affect the play.
Huff made one tackle against the run, teaming up with Mosley to stop an 8-yard gain on first-and-20 from getting any further. It was a nice rep, too. Huff moves his man inside, crosses his face, sheds the block, and makes the stop. Solid job of setting the edge and reading the play.
Other than that, Huff wasn’t closely involved in any of the run plays he was on the field for.
With that stop, Huff now has three run stops on just 20 run defense snaps this season, giving him a 15.0% run-stop rate that leads all Jets defenders. He is also yet to be credited with a missed tackle against the run.
It’s too small of a sample to declare that he is a good run defender just yet, but with each passing week, it becomes less likely that Huff can be considered anything less than an average/below-average run defender at the absolute minimum. Huff is doing his part to make it easy for the Jets’ coaches to trust him on first and second down.
Considering his absurd efficiency as a pass rusher, it was always silly for the Jets to completely avoid putting him on the field in anything but obvious passing situations. That would be the case even if he struggled against the run, but now that he’s doing a respectable job in that phase, it’s painfully obvious that Huff is far too good of a pass rusher to be limited to a handful of snaps per game. The Jets have finally realized it and they’re reaping the benefits.
Going forward, the Jets should continue increasing Huff’s snap count until he gives them a reason not to.
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