Sheldon Richardson won’t play linebacker in 2017
By Michael Pallas
New York Jets defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers has confirmed that defensive end Sheldon Richardson will not be playing at the linebacker position heading into the regular season.
It looks like the days of defensive end Sheldon Richardson playing linebacker are officially over. Team reporter Eric Allen confirmed it via Twitter as the New York Jets are done experimenting with Richardson playing a position he’s not known to dominate in.
The Jets move their defensive linemen around anyway. While defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers expect to play him more at the 3-technique end (lined up on the outside shoulder of the guard), he may play inside on the line as well.
According to ESPN’s Rich Cimini, the defense struggled when Richardson, Muhammad Wilkerson, and Leonard Williams were on the field together. They allowed a 19/2 TD-INT ratio and a 79.6 total QBR.
Undoubtedly, that was in part with Richardson at linebacker. The perfect base defense for the Jets would be Williams and Wilkerson playing 3-technique end, Steve McLendon on the nose (Richardson playing in rotation), Darron Lee and Jordan Jenkins at outside linebacker and Lorenzo Mauldin and Bruce Carter at inside linebacker.
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The athleticism of Richardson and Williams combined with the speed and athleticism of Jenkins and Lee will be dangerous. They should be able to wreak havoc in the backfield.
Part of the reason Richardson played linebacker last season was due to injury. Injuries led the Jets to have depth issues at the position, and Richardson was basically stuck playing linebacker.
Richardson is a talented player, but he’s not fast enough to play linebacker. He’s the kind of player that uses strength and athleticism to his advantage on the line. This move is perfect for a young Jets defense.
The experience up front will help the back-end of the defense. However, football is the ultimate team game. The back-end’s ability to cover will also help the front be able to get to the quarterback. The two go hand in hand. The move up front will lead to more pressure on opposing quarterbacks and more turnovers and sacks. It’s a perfect move for the Jets.