Coming into the season, the NY Jets' defensive line looked to be one of the biggest strengths of the entire team. Three weeks into the season, it's looked like one of the team's biggest liabilities.
The Jets pass rush has been a weak point for many years now, and Jets fans thought this trend was finally coming to an end when general manager Joe Douglas signed premier edge rusher Carl Lawson in the 2021 offseason.
Unfortunately, Lawson tore his Achilles in training camp before the 2021 season. Hopes have been high for Lawson to produce in 2022, but so far has been more of the same. He racks up pressures, but his sack numbers (0.5 through 3 weeks) continue to leave more to be desired.
The Jets also added edge rusher Jermaine Johnson in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft, as well as Micheal Clemons in the fourth round. While Johnson and Clemons have both been excellent, as the top 2 graded rookie edge rushers by PFF, they both have had similar struggles to Lawson: being unable to get to the quarterback.
In fact, the entire Jets' defensive end group has struggled with the task of sacking the quarterback. Through three games, no Jets defensive end has more than 0.5 sacks. With the talent on this line, that's a serious problem.
The NY Jets couldn't capitalize against the Bengals in Week 3
If there was any team for this Jets defensive line to break out against, it was this Cincinnati Bengals squad. Joe Burrow was the most sacked quarterback coming into this game, being sacked 13 times in two games.
On top of that, the team's big free-agent addition at right tackle La'el, Collins was dealing with an injury. Despite this, the Jets failed to get to the quarterback all game, sacking Burrow just twice throughout the entire contest.
It was painful to watch at times, with Burrow easily maneuvering the pocket and getting the most time he's gotten since he was at LSU as he completed easy passes on third down.
So what is there to be done about this issue? After all, the Jets have plenty of talent at the edge position. Well, if it persists, serious questions will have to be asked about defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich's merit.
I don't believe that Saleh will be fired after this season, but I do believe that if the issues with the pass rush, and in turn the defense, continue, then the Jets may be in the market for a new defensive coordinator come 2023.