Does the Selection of Sheldon Richardson Mark a Change in Scheme for the New York Jets?


Apr 26, 2013; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets first round selection defensive lineman Sheldon Richardson answers questions during a press conference at the New York Jets Training Facility. Mandatory Credit: Jim O

We have talked about this pick all weekend long, the choice of Sheldon Richardson. Was it a choice of need? Could they have filled a need better by choosing an outside linebacker? You know how I feel about the choice initially. It seemed like a decision that didn’t really fit with what the Jets do.

But, what if the Jets are trying to change what they are trying to do? What if the Jets are changing a bit? Is Rex Ryan’s defense going to look different than it has over the last four years. The more I think about it, the more it seems that this is EXACTLY what is going to happen. Here are some reasons why:

First of all, you have the change in coordinators. Mike Pettine is out, and Dennis Thurman is in. Yes, the defense is Rex Ryan’s, not the coordinator’s. Yes, Dennis Thurman has been here the last four years, so it’s not as if they are bringing in someone totally new. But, Pettine is the one that has been linked with Rex since Baltimore, running that defense with Rex the way he has done it since the beginning. Thurman is in, there is room to change.

Secondly, the Jets left outside linebackers on the board, Jarvis Jones being the biggest example.  What does the 3-4 Jets defense need more than anything else?  An edge pass rusher.  Someone that can get to the quarterback, without having to run exotic blitz packages.  But, inexplicably, the Jets didn’t address the position at all.  Instead, they address defensive tackle.  Makes no sense, right?  Well, it makes sense if the Jets are going to change schemes to using more defensive tackles, like, say, the 4-3.

Finally, take a look at Sheldon Richardson on video:

Don’t get me wrong, this is not where I try to convince you that Sheldon Richardson can’t play. Look at that tape, he is quick off that line of scrimmage. He can generate pressure up the middle, and any football fan knows that the quarterback hates facing pressure up the middle.

But, what don’t you notice when you watch the tape? Sheldon Richardson being used off the edge. Missouri ran the 4-3, and Sheldon Richardson was quite effective from the position. He is a terrific player, but makes no sense as a guy to play in the 3-4. Terrible pick? Maybe, but what if the Jets are moving to a 4-3 base? Then, it becomes an excellent pick.

So, depending upon where the Jets are going with this pick, will determine the value of this pick. Are the Jets going to try to put a square peg through a round hole, fitting Richardson into the 3-4? Bad idea. But, are the Jets going to move to a 4-3? Then…excellent idea!

Doesn’t a defensive line of MO, Richardson, Coples, and Ellis sound wonderful? Sounds good to me.