Jets need to address linebackers in 2017
By Michael Pallas
The New York Jets are built to play a 3-4 defense. However, they changed their base defense to 4-3 during the season due to a lack of depth and injuries to their linebacker corps.
The New York Jets completely mishandled the linebacker position, which led to some of the injuries. They used Sheldon Richardson at outside linebacker some, which was a mistake. They also improperly used their rookies.
Darron Lee and Jodan Jenkins were misused, and it led to an injury to Lee. Lee was primarily used as an inside linebacker and Jenkins was on the outside.
Lee is faster and quicker than Jenkins, which makes him a more prime candidate for outside linebacker. The team’s official bio pages list Jenkins at 6’3 and 259 lbs. and Lee at 6’1, 232 lbs.
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While Lee might be a little bit stronger, Jenkins is bigger, and his body is more suited to handle the rigors of going against NFL guards. In addition, Jenkins quickness is an advantage against NFL guards. The combination of Lee on the outside and Jenkins on the inside would’ve made the pass rush more potent.
Since they may have to cut ties with Richardson and David Harris, they will have to address their linebackers. There are some free agents that could be available, like Rolando McClain and Trent Cole.
They may also address that depth in the 2017 NFL Draft. However, that wouldn’t be a wise move for general manager Mike Maccagnan. The need to focus on defense in free agency.
In an aggressive defense that likes to blitz, like head coach Todd Bowles does, you need to have two key players. One is to cover corner, and the other is a blitzing linebacker.
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The Jets may also have to hire a defensive coordinator that has the same aggressive philosophy as Bowles. Whatever the Jets do with their coaching staff, they need to make sure their linebackers are set in 2017.