The Jets are notoriously one of the most cursed franchises in all of the NFL. They have been written off by most of the league each week and that’s demoralizing for a team. The 2021 Jets won’t be that same team. Led by new Head Coach, Robert Saleh, the Jets have made moves to bolster their offense by building a strong offensive line, WR core, RB room, and they potentially have their QB of the future.
It would be easy to look at this team and ask, “Will Zach Wilson be THE guy”, but we’ve beat that narrative to a pulp. Let’s focus on Saleh’s bread and butter, the defense.
The Jets defense finished towards the bottom of total defensive rankings last year at 26th (Pro Football Reference).
Numbers that jump out to me:
-31 total team sacks
-10 total team interceptions
-17 forced fumbles ✅
These stats jump right out at you ranking towards the bottom in almost every category except fumbles. The Jets needed better QB pressure at the core. I’ve always seen QB pressure as a waterfall stat that feeds other stats around it.
The Jets remedied a lot of their issues from last year by signing veterans through free agency, squiring names like Sheldon Rankin, Carl Lawson, Vinny Curry, and Lamarcus Joyner.
It is reported that Saleh will utilize a 4-3 defense, stacking the line and securing the interior. I love the idea of pairing a young stud like Quinnen Williams and Sheldon Rankins up the middle. Ideally, this makes MLB CJ Mosley’s job easier (if he can stay healthy).
However, there are more than seven guys on defense so let’s talk about the DBs and how they improved there.
The Jets re-signed Marcus Maye which was beyond smart. He’s the perfect breed of safety that can do anything and pairing him with Joyner at his natural position is perfection. The only problem I see is the Jets gambling on their young unproven CBs. They have players like Bryce Hall and Bless Austin who have all the potential in the world, but we don’t really know what they’re going to be. That’s a scary statement in a league that is loving the air ball and a division that includes Diggs, Waddle, Parker, and whatever grocery boy Bill Belichick wants to make all-pro.
Final thoughts: Rome wasn’t built in a day, so it’s unfair to think that the Jets will magically flip their 2-14 record into a playoff birth, but I am surprisingly optimistic about the future of the Jets. Hiring Saleh will translate to success, just not immediately as this is still a young defense with a lot to learn. Let him work, let him install a winning culture, and the results will show