The Top Five New York Jets Defensive Ends of All Time


Jul 24, 2014; Cortland, NY, USA; New York Jets defensive linemen pose for a photo with defensive line coach

Karl Dunbar

(center) prior to the start of training camp at SUNY Cortland. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

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It’s time once again to continue selecting our New York Jets All-Time roster.

We have completed the offense (to be revealed after the entire roster has been selected), so now it’s on to the Jets defense. We start with the guys up front. The Jets went through years and years of not having a significant pass rush. Any Jets fan that remembers the middle to late 1980’s will tell you all about that.

But, the Jets have had some terrific linemen over the years. Throughout the decades, the Jets have had periods with terrific sack artists, even having a foursome known as “The Sack Exchange”. So today, we are going to choose our defensive ends.

We have five candidates to present, from different periods in Jets history. Vote at the end, and we are choosing the top two for our All-Time Jets roster. So, let’s get right to it.

(Note: For this roster, we are going with a 3-4 alignment).

Next: Mark Gastineau

We start with the original sack dance master. Mark Gastineau was drafted by the Jets in the second round of the 1979 NFL draft. He took the league by storm, terrorizing quarterbacks and dancing poorly. In all seriousness, he helped the Jets form the “New York Sack Exchange” in 1981, when the Jets defensive four combined for 66 sacks, even though they weren’t an official statistic yet. His 22 sacks in 1984 was an NFL record until 2001 when Michael Strahan broke it.

Gastineau started 107 out of 137 games, playing his entire career with the Jets until his abrupt 1988 retirement. His 107.5 sacks is the Jets career record. He annoyed opponents, terrorized quarterbacks, and thrilled New York Jets fans for many years.

Our first nominee, number 99, Mark Gastineau!

Next: Gerry Philbin

The next player helped the New York Jets win Super Bowl III. Gerry Philbin was taken in the third round of the 1964 AFL Draft by the Jets, and of the NFL draft by the Lions. Jets fans lucked out when Philbin chose the AFL to share his talents with.

Philbin played for the Jets from 1964-1972, before leaving for the Philadelphia Eagles in 1973. During his Jets career, Philbin was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1968 and 1969, and was first team All-Pro in both of those seasons. Philbin was elected to the Jets Ring of Honor, and deservedly so.

Our second nominee, number 81, Gerry Philbin!

Next: Shaun Ellis

This next guy was part of a bountiful first round of the 2000 draft for the Jets. Shaun Ellis was the first of four round picks, the 12th overall. Right from the start, Ellis took the Jets, and the league, by storm, posting 8.5 sacks in his rookie year. He became the full-time starter in 2001, and never relinquished the role until he left the Jets after the 2010 season. He started 156 games out of 170 in a Jets uniform, and was selected to the Pro Bowl in both 2003 and 2009.

One of his best performances in a Jets uniform came in one of his last. In the playoff game against the Patriots after the 2010 season, Ellis posted two sacks and five tackles, helping the Jets to the upset victory over New England. He was one of the most consistent players to wear the Jets uniform.

Our third nominee, number 92, Shaun Ellis!

Next: Muhammad Wilkerson

Nov 24, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets defensive end

Muhammad Wilkerson

(96) against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Now we have a guy that us Jets fans like to call “Big Mo”. Muhammad Wilkerson was chosen in the first round of the 2011 NFL draft. After a bit of a slow start to his career, Wilkerson came on in 2012, with five sacks. Over the last two seasons, Wilkerson has posted 16.5 sacks for the Jets, making him arguable the best defensive end in the game other than J.J. Watt.

Wilkerson is the leader of a current Jets defensive line known as the “Sons of Anarchy”. He may be the youngest member of this group, but certainly deserves a spot on this list.

Our fourth nominee, number 96, Muhammad Wilkerson!

Next: John Abraham

Sep 8, 2014; Glendale, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals linebacker

John Abraham

(55) against the San Diego Chargers at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

This final player was listed at both defensive end and linebacker, and I choose to place him at defensive end. John Abraham was chosen by the Jets immediately after Ellis, with the 13th pick overall in 2000. After a slow rookie season, Abraham posted back to back double-digit sack years, with 13 in 2001 and 10 in 2002. Over six years with the Jets, Abraham posted 53.5 sacks, and started 64 out of 73 games.

He made three Pro Bowls during his time with the Jets. He was first team All-Pro in 2001.

Our final nominee, number 94 (and for one year 56), John Abraham!

There you have your candidates. Vote below, the top two make the roster.

Who is the best New York Jets defensive end ever?

Mark Gastineau

(74%, 54 Votes)

Gerry Philbin

(11%, 8 Votes)

Muhammad Wilkerson

(10%, 7 Votes)

Shaun Ellis

(3%, 2 Votes)

John Abraham

(3%, 2 Votes)

Total Voters: 73

Next: Top Five First Round Picks of the 2000's

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