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Who will lead the New York Jets in sacks in 2024?

Will McDonald, NY Jets, Sacks, 2024
Will McDonald, New York Jets, Getty Images

The New York Jets seek big sack numbers in 2024

Swapping John Franklin-Myers for Haason Reddick this offseason telegraphs the New York Jets’ primary goal on defense: to get more sacks. Franklin-Myers was never much of a finisher, while Reddick is one of the best sack artists in the NFL. The Eagles may have complained about Reddick’s tendency to chase sacks, but Jeff Ulbrich and co. are just fine with it. After tying with the 49ers for seventh in the league with 48 sacks in 2023, they’re looking to boost that total even more.

How many sacks will the Jets total in 2024, and how will they break down among players?

Haason Reddick

The Jets acquired Haason Reddick because of his sack prowess. He’s had at least 11 sacks in each of the past four seasons. To predict how many he’s likely to earn in 2024, we first need to estimate his playing time.

Reddick likely won’t get anywhere near the 557 pass rush snaps he saw in 2023, as he’s projected to see roughly 58-60% of the Jets’ defensive snaps. That would translate to 638 total snaps.

59.4% of Jermaine Johnson’s snaps in 2023 were pass rush snaps, while 57.3% of John Franklin-Myers were. Let’s assume that Reddick falls into the same range with 58% pass rush snaps; that would give him 370 pass rush snaps.

Reddick’s 2.3% sack rate in 2023 was far lower than his previous three seasons (4.0% in 2022, 3.4% in 2021, 3.2% in 2020). He’s averaged 3.2% over those four seasons, so we’ll go with that sack rate. 3.2% of 370 snaps would translate to 11.8 sacks, so we’ll give Reddick 12 sacks for the season.

Quinnen Williams

Quinnen Williams dominated just as much in 2023 as in 2022, but he didn’t have the sack numbers to show for it. He went from 12 quarterback takedowns in 2022 to just 5.5 in 2023. His sack rate decreased from 3.1% to 1.3%. 59.8% of his snaps came against the pass, which would translate to 454 pass rush snaps.

Williams has never come close to a 3.1% sack rate in his other four seasons, posting 1.9%, 2.1%, 1.9%, and 1.3% marks. That’s a career mark of 1.9%, which would give him 8.5 sacks.

Jermaine Johnson

Jermaine Johnson tripled his sacks from Year 1 to Year 2, going from 2.5 to 7.5. However, I don’t think he’ll make another leap in that area. Johnson usually gets his takedowns via effort on longer-developing plays or cleanup duty from a teammate’s pressure.

Johnson’s 59.4% pass snap rate from 2023 translates to 431 pass rush snaps in 2024. He had a 2% sack rate in 2023, so with the same rate, he would finish with roughly 7.5 actual sacks.

Will McDonald

Will McDonald has the potential to be a sack artist in the pass rush specialist role — if he can get better at winning the battle of first contact against offensive tackles.

McDonald posted 3.5 sacks on just 99 pass rush snaps in 2023. With my projection that his snap count will increase to 418, I’ll give him the same 69.4% pass rush snap rate, projecting to 290 pass rush snaps. I think his 3.5% sack rate from 2023 was a bit fluky, though it may be replicable. Still, I see McDonald posting roughly 7 sacks in 2024.

Javon Kinlaw

Javon Kinlaw was not a finisher in 2023, posting 3.5 sacks. I don’t expect much to change in 2024 since he’ll likely play a similar role on passing downs. He had elite defensive tackles next to him in San Francisco just as he will in New York. I’ll give Kinlaw another 3.5 sacks.

The rest of the pack

I gave Solomon Thomas 418 snaps in 2024, which is down from his 483 total in 2023 but up from 374 in 2022. Thomas actually played just 46.2% of his snaps against the pass, which is surprising but may not change much given the Jets’ DT rotation. That would give Thomas 193 pass rush snaps. He has just a 0.9% career sack rate, and his 2.2% rate from 2023 was a major outlier. Let’s put him back down to 1.4% and give him 2.5 sacks.

Just 44.5% of Micheal Clemons’ snaps over his first two seasons have come against the pass. I predicted that he would get 275 snaps in 2024, which would translate to 122 pass rush snaps. Clemons had 0.5 sacks in 2023 and 2.5 in his rookie year, so we’ll split the difference and give him 1.5 sacks.

Leki Fotu is with the Jets for his run defense (as suspect as it is). He has just 3.5 sacks for his career, so I’m going to give him 0.5 sacks maximum.

I think Leonard Taylor and Eric Watts will make the Jets’ roster. Taylor recorded just six total sacks in his three college seasons, so I wouldn’t expect more than 0.5 sacks from him in limited duty. Watts actually had a seven-sack year in 2022, but I assume the Jets will play him on run downs more than passing, so we’ll give him 1.5 sacks.

The Jets like to blitz with Quincy Williams and C.J. Mosley on occasion. Williams is far more effective in that area than Mosley, posting two sacks in 2023 and three in 2022. Let’s give him 2.5 sacks in 2024. We’ll throw in 0.5 sacks for Mosley.

Jordan Whitehead was the only Jets defensive back with any sacks at all in 2023, posting 0.5. I’ll keep that at zero because the team does not blitz their defensive backs all that often.

Recap

Here are the sack totals I envision from the Jets’ defensive players:

  • Haason Reddick: 12
  • Quinnen Williams: 8.5
  • Jermaine Johnson: 7.5
  • Will McDonald: 7
  • Javon Kinlaw: 3.5
  • Solomon Thomas: 2.5
  • Quincy Williams: 2.5
  • Micheal Clemons: 1.5
  • Eric Watts: 1.5
  • C.J. Mosley: 0.5
  • Leki Fotu: 0.5
  • Leonard Taylor: 0.5

This totals 48 sacks, the same number the Jets had in 2023. There is certainly potential for more if Quinnen Williams reprises his 2022 sack rate or Will McDonald breaks out in the Bryce Huff role (Huff had 10 sacks in 2023). Overall, though, the Jets have generally been a lot better at generating pressure than converting those pressures into sacks. Ranking seventh in the league in quarterback takedowns will still leave the Jets with a disruptive and dangerous defense.

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