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Breaking down the best defensive alignment in 2017

December 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New York Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams (92) during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. The Jets defeated the 49ers 23-17 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
December 11, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New York Jets defensive tackle Leonard Williams (92) during the first quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi's Stadium. The Jets defeated the 49ers 23-17 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
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The best defensive alignment for the New York Jets is 3-4 with three defensive tackles (including the nose tackle).

The New York Jets label all of their defensive front players with the generic label of defensive linemen on their official roster page. That’s likely due to the fact that they are interchangeable. However, the team needs to focus on a particular base defense. Their roster is perfectly set up to run a 3-4 defense.

The talent of their linemen also set up perfectly to have them line up with two tackles playing in the three technique and a nose tackle. The combination of size and athleticism of all of the Jets linemen and the speed and athleticism of their linebackers makes it prudent to run their base defense that way.

According to Pro Football Focus, the numbering system for the defensive front is like this. Even numbers are used as face to face with the offensive linemen. For example, zero is used for the nose tackle. If the number is odd, it represents either, playing against the center or tight end on either shoulder or the outside shoulder of a guard or tackle. That same piece says this about the 3-technique defensive tackle:

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It’s rare to see one tip the scales at over 300 pounds as holding up to double teams cedes priority to agility.

Even though Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams are both over 300 pounds, they would thrive in that formation. They are agile enough to handle the position, despite their size. In addition to the basics from a skill-set standpoint, from a scheme standpoint, it’s perfect for the Jets.

The Jets have athletic linebackers who would also find success with this. Using 3-technique tackles opens up one-on-one opportunities for them. When you play a 3-4 defense, the fourth rusher is hard to decipher. It can come from the inside or the outside. Therefore, if you line up in the 3-technique tackle position, the linemen and linebackers will see a lot of one-on-one. With all the one-on-one opportunities, the Jets defensive front will be able to get to the quarterback more, and that will help the defensive backfield.

Football is the ultimate team game. It’s not just from the three phases, but within the phases, each position group affects the other. The Jets can build toward the future by playing their defensive tackles in the 3-technique.

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