The NY Jets have struggled to create consistent pressure on the edge for the majority of this season, and their issues could be directly tied to the lack of a role Bryce Huff has had in the defense.
Huff was rendered a healthy scratch in each of the Jets' first three games of the season before finally being made active for the first time in Week 4. The former undrafted free agent was only on the field for nine defensive snaps, but he made them count.
Huff finished tied for the Jets' lead in pressures with three. That means Huff recorded a pressure on a whopping 33% of his snaps — a downright ridiculous success rate.
Given the struggles the Jets have had when it comes to pressuring opposing quarterbacks with their edge rushers, it's mind-boggling that Huff has been an afterthought in the defensive game plan. That needs to change going forward.
The NY Jets have no excuse not to play Bryce Huff more
Huff is far from an unproven commodity and most expected him to play a sizable role in the Jets' defense, even as part of a deep defensive end group.
The former Memphis standout was one of the more efficient pass rushers in football for parts of last season. Prior to a back injury that landed him on injured reserve in November, Huff ranked among the league leaders in pass-rush win rate.
It's not a coincidence that the Jets' pass rush struggled to find the same consistency after Huff was sidelined last season. That same trend was evident this past week in Huff's season debut.
When Huff was on the field, the Jets registered a fantastic pressure rate of 21.6% against the Steelers. When he was off the field, that pressure rate dipped to an ugly 5.4%. The Jets' pass rush was night and day depending on if Huff was on the field or not.
Again, he only played nine snaps, but his impact was significant. Moving forward, there's no excuse for him not to have a much larger role in the defensive end rotation. Unfortunately, the Jets don't seem committed to making that happen.
Head coach Robert Saleh was asked about Huff's role after the game and, while complimentary of his young defensive end, simply stated that the Jets "hopefully can get him out there again." That doesn't sound like a vow to play him more. That doesn't even sound like he's guaranteed to be active again in Week 5.
The Jets opted to dress 10 defensive linemen on Sunday which is the only reason Huff was given a chance to play. It would be hard to justify sitting him again this upcoming Sunday seeing as he's legitimately one of the best pass rushers on the team — and he proves that every time he's on the field.
Forget special teams. Forget defending the run. The Jets need speed on the edge. They need guys who can consistently pressure opposing quarterbacks. Huff does just that.
Perhaps it would mean taking away snaps from players like Jacob Martin and Micheal Clemons. Perhaps it renders Nathan Shepherd a healthy scratch while playing John Franklin-Myers and Clemons more in the interior.
Whatever it takes, the Jets need to find ways to get arguably their most efficient edge rusher on the field. Bryce Huff needs to play.