The NY Jets may have Aaron Rodgers at their disposal this season, but even the most cursory analysis will show that the strength of this team is their defensive line. In terms of both depth and quality, New York far exceeds the rest of the contenders in the AFC.
The Jets were ready to unleash their much-hyped unit against Bryce Young and the Carolina Panthers, as the No. 1 overall pick was ready to make his professional debut. This low-scoring first-half was dominated by a Jets defensive line that was not giving the Alabama product a moment to catch his breath.
Young dropped back seven times in this game, going 4-6 for 21 yards. Young was hit hard on one of those completions, had to get the ball away under extreme pressure, and took a sack from veteran lineman Quinton Jefferson. Young was running for his life early on in this one.
The NY Jets' defensive line made it hard on Bryce Young.
Carolina played most of their starters in the first few series, including former Top 10 pick Ikem Ekwonu. Not only did Ekwonu get toasted by the Jets, but he got beat up by a Jets defense that saw some of their projected starters sit this game out in the name of rest.
Jermaine Johnson looks like a completely different player in the preseason due to his increased speed and aggression, and trade chip Bryce Huff was just as lightning-quick as he was during his breakout 2022 campaign. Even the ageless Jefferson chimed in on the fun.
When paired with a star rookie in Will McDonald that has been terrorizing offensive tackles in training camp and picked up a sack when Young was removed from the game, this group has shown that they can beat up on one of the better offensive lines in the NFC despite the general lack of starters active.
While all preseason results must be taken with a grain of salt, the Jets have to be thrilled with the fact that their defensive line is collectively living up to the hype. Even the electric playmaking of Young couldn't overcome it.