NY Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich has come under fire for his misusage of the team's defensive line so far this season. But as of this past week, perhaps Ulbrich finally got the memo.
Play your best players and good things happen.
Ulbrich's continued reliance on a heavy rotation of the defensive line has drawn the ire of fans, but in Week 5, the second-year coordinator clearly softened his stance.
Quinnen Williams was on the field for a season-high 70 percent of defensive snaps. The same goes for the Jets' three other starters, Carl Lawson (73 percent), John Franklin-Myers (66 percent), and Sheldon Rankins (64 percent).
As for the backups, they all totaled season-lows as Jacob Martin played just 16 percent of snaps, Micheal Clemons played 15 percent, Nathan Shepherd was at 22 percent, and Solomon Thomas was on the field for 28 percent of snaps.
The only backup to see an increase in snaps was Bryce Huff who jumped from 14 percent in Week 4 to 22 percent in Week 5. Perhaps some of this was a result of game flow, but it's notable nonetheless.
The NY Jets may finally be shifting away from their heavy defensive line rotation
It's no coincidence that the Jets' pass rush had their best week of the season in a game in which the starters were allowed to play the vast majority of snaps. Sure, part of it was due to the inexperience of opposing quarterback Skylar Thompson, but the success of the Jets' pass rush in Week 5 can't be overlooked.
Lawson set a new franchise record with seven QB hits, a feat only 14 other NFL players have accomplished. Franklin-Myers tied the old franchise record with five QB hits.
Lawson finished with nine pressures, seven QB hits, a sack, and a forced fumble while Franklin-Myers registered six pressures, five QB hits, and a half-sack. Quinnen Williams, meanwhile, had six pressures, three QB hits, and a half-sack on top of his fumble recovery.
It was a dominant performance from the Jets' star-studded trio of pass rushers, and once again, it's no surprise that their breakout performance came in the game they were allowed to play 70 percent or more of defensive snaps.
Even Huff had himself another strong game, finishing with three pressures and four hits on just 15 snaps. With Jermaine Johnson sidelined for the time being, Huff needs to see more playing time.
The Jets' pass rush came alive in Week 5, and while some of that can be attributed to game flow and the lackluster performance of a rookie seventh-round quarterback, it's impossible to overlook the changes Ulbrich made with the rotation.
The Jets played their best players in Week 5 and reaped the rewards. Here's to hoping this was the start of a trend and not simply a one-week outlier.