The defensive line of the New York Jets are set to dominate this upcoming season, maybe even do their best to achieve levels of the New York Sack Exchange.
With a clean slate in front of them, NFL teams enter the season with lofty expectations. Aspirations and dreams are at an all-time high as teams work toward the ultimate goal – to hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
While this holds true for the defensive line of the New York Jets, they’re also striving toward dominance as a unit. However, their intentions aren’t selfish as it’s for the greater good of the team. The defensive line was one of the main strengths for the Jets last year, but there’s always room for improvement. One group they should aspire to be is the legendary New York Sack Exchange.
The historic defensive line was comprised of defensive ends Joe Klecko and Mark Gastineau and defensive tackles Marty Lyons and Abdul Salaam. Together, they terrorized opposing quarterbacks and turned the Jets into a contender. Comparable to the Steel Curtain, they bulldozed offensive lines, penetrated gaps and disrupted offensive game plans.
The height of their dominance came in 1981 when they recorded 53.5 sacks and led the Jets to the NFL Playoffs for the first time since 1969. The fantastic four only played for two years as a unit, but they have cemented their place as one of the most dominant defensive lines in NFL history.
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Fast forward to 2016 and the Jets have the pieces in place to have a dominant defensive line.
The Jets have a strong core with the ability to pressure the quarterback and disrupt the rhythm of the opposing offense.
The 53-man roster isn’t set in stone, but it’s safe to assume the line will be a combination of defensive ends Muhammad Wilkerson, Leonard Williams and Jarvis Jenkins and defensive tackles Sheldon Richardson, Deon Simon and Steve McLendon.
Richardson, who will serve a one-game suspension, played in 11 games last season racking up five sacks and 19 quarterback hurries.
Wilkerson, who is playing for a new contract, recorded 12 sacks and Williams had a solid rookie campaign with 63 tackles and three sacks. Jenkins who signed as a free agent after playing for the Chicago Bears last season, provides depth behind Wilkerson. He has six career stats, four of which came last season.
The loss of nose tackle Damon Harrison, who bolted to the in-state rival New York Giants via free agency, hurts the Jets. Harrison is regarded as one of the leagues best run stuffers and helped make opposing offenses one dimensional. McLendon, who has been with the Pittsburgh Steelers throughout his career, has his work cut out for him. In 2015 he started nine games recording 14 tackles and a sack, which is minuscule compares to Harrison’s 72 tackles.
It’s hard to believe that this unit can come anywhere close to recording 53.5 sacks, but tenacious behemoths upfront aim to establish their legacy through disruption. Football games are won in the trenches and these stalwarts will look to feast on their opponents. In a league that encourages high-octane offenses, the Jets hope to torment opposing quarterbacks and pressure them into making mistakes and errant throws.
It’s no easy feat to match the level of intensity and disruption of the New York Sack Exchange, but with defensive minded head coach Todd Bowles leading the way, the line will be dominant.