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Top 3 burning questions on Jets defense for 2018

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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 29: Inside linebacker Darron Lee #58 of the New York Jets celebrates a recovery by teammate Jordan Jenkins #48 (not pictured) in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium on October 29, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - OCTOBER 29: Inside linebacker Darron Lee #58 of the New York Jets celebrates a recovery by teammate Jordan Jenkins #48 (not pictured) in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium on October 29, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
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EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – OCTOBER 29: Inside linebacker Darron Lee #58 of the New York Jets celebrates a recovery by teammate Jordan Jenkins #48 (not pictured) in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium on October 29, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – OCTOBER 29: Inside linebacker Darron Lee #58 of the New York Jets celebrates a recovery by teammate Jordan Jenkins #48 (not pictured) in the first quarter against the Atlanta Falcons at MetLife Stadium on October 29, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

There is energy and excitement surrounding the New York Jets defense headed into the 2018 season. Therefore, let’s take a look at the top three burning questions for Gang Green’s defense as the new campaign approaches.

The New York Jets have seemingly hit the nail on the head in regard to adding to the team’s defense. Whether it has been through the draft, trading or free agency, the Jets have quietly put together a potentially dynamic defensive unit.

Over the past few years, Mike Maccagnan has drafted defensive starters such as Leonard Williams, Darron Lee, Jamal Adams, and Marcus Maye. Maccagnan has also bolstered the defensive foundation via free agency with players like Trumaine Johnson and Avery Williamson.

However, there have also been some subtractions on the defensive side of the ball. Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Calvin Pryor are all players that were drafted high and never made it in the NFL, or players that had to be let go due to character issues.

The departures of Wilkerson and Richardson definitely hurt but had to be done. This leads into the top three burning questions for the Jets defense in 2018.

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – SEPTEMBER 24: Morris Claiborne #21 of the New York Jets break up a pass intended for Jarvis Landry #14 of the Miami Dolphins during the second half of an NFL game at MetLife Stadium on September 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The New York Jets defeated the Miami Dolphins 20-6.(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – SEPTEMBER 24: Morris Claiborne #21 of the New York Jets break up a pass intended for Jarvis Landry #14 of the Miami Dolphins during the second half of an NFL game at MetLife Stadium on September 24, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The New York Jets defeated the Miami Dolphins 20-6.(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

3. Will a playmaking cornerback emerge?

The last time the Jets had a game-changing, playmaking cornerback was when Darrelle Revis was on the team. Since then, it has been a revolving door at the corner position.

Hopes are that Johnson can bring his ball-hawking ability to New York and step into the No. 1 role. The only cause for concern with Johnson is that he is 28-years old and only had two interceptions in 2017.

Although, there is no doubt the cornerback situation is much better than last season. The additions of Johnson and Parry Nickerson will take some pressure off Morris Claiborne and Buster Skrine.

But, the Jets need one of these players to emerge as a playmaker. Producing a turnover machine out of the corner position is a must need in order for Gang Green to take the next step in 2018.

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Next: 2. Can the defensive line step up?

2. Can the defensive line step up?

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As mentioned above, the Jets have seen some supreme defensive line talent walk out the door in the past year. It is never easy when you have to part ways with players as talented as Richardson and Wilkerson.

Head coach Todd Bowles has now been tasked with trying to fill those holes. Nevertheless, the Jets still have Williams to anchor the defensive line.

Except, Williams can’t do it all on his own. This is why the Jets defensive line is a big question mark heading into 2018.

We can expect Williams to be his usual, productive self. On the other hand, right now it is too hard to tell what we should expect from players like Henry Anderson, Steve McLendon and Nathan Shepherd.

Next: 1. Can Lee and Jenkins take the next step?

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – NOVEMBER 02: Jordan Jenkins #48 of the New York Jets celebrates with teammate outside linebacker Josh Martin #95 after sacking quarterback Tyrod Taylor #5 (not pictured) of the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter of the game at MetLife Stadium on November 2, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ – NOVEMBER 02: Jordan Jenkins #48 of the New York Jets celebrates with teammate outside linebacker Josh Martin #95 after sacking quarterback Tyrod Taylor #5 (not pictured) of the Buffalo Bills during the first quarter of the game at MetLife Stadium on November 2, 2017 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

1. Can Lee and Jenkins take the next step?

Perhaps the biggest, hottest question for the Jets defense in 2018 pertains to two linebackers drafted in the 2016 NFL Draft: Jordan Jenkins and Lee. These two players will look to take the next step in their careers in 2018.

Lee and Jenkins have been steady linebackers since they came into the NFL. Lee has mostly played inside linebacker, while Jenkins has done his work outside.

These two third-year players have such an important season ahead of them because it’s pretty much make it or break it. The Jets future, and their future, is much more solidified if they both play well and look to be close to taking the next step.

Must Read: Top 10 linebackers of all-time to play for the Jets

Lee and Jenkins can bolster the linebacker position if they can play well in 2018. If not, the Jets may be set back a bit longer as they continue to rebuild with hopes of fielding a contending team within the next few years.

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