As per last year, I’ll be sharing projections for every team in the NFL. I use past production in specific roles for each team’s scheme to work out realistic production profiles. You can see how accurate I was in 2017 in my IDP Projection Marking series.
What’s the first thing you think of when you think about the Jets defense? It’s weirdly not an easy question. Todd Bowles has been in charge for a while now and the team has never really taken on the character his defenses in Arizona had. Back then he was known as a creative coach who brings blitzes from all angles. This Jets defense is known as one of the worst pass-rushing units in the league.
Bowles clearly has a good defensive mind but he’s also well and truly on the hot-seat. He needs to show significant improvement quickly. Drafting a rookie quarterback third overall probably buys him some time but he’ll be under a lot of pressure if he can’t demonstrate a much better defense.
One of the things we need to be aware of is that the Jets’ stat crew ranked dead last in terms of overall tackles in 2017 (unless you count Wembley). This is a problem that hangs over the whole team like a dark cloud.
Steve Mclendon is established as the starter at nose tackle but he’s in no way an impact player – least of all as an IDP. 30 solo tackles would be a fine return but in big-play leagues, he’s simply going to be outscored by pass rushers. Steering clear would be the smart move.
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Leonard Williams was disappointing for the first half of 2017 but at least managed to salvage some respectability in the second half. He’s in no way a top pass rusher (12 sacks in three seasons) but his all-around quality is enough to put him near the top of 3-4 ends. It’s entirely conceivable he could put together an Akiem Hicks type season and be fantasy relevant as a result.
On the other side, it would be great to see Henry Anderson string together a good year. But after just 1,140 snaps in three seasons as a pro, it seems increasingly likely he can ever fulfill that early promise. Even the 670 snaps predicted here would be almost what he’s managed in the past two seasons combined. Rookie Nathan Shepherd was a third-round pick out of Fort Hays State. Shepherd is the first player they’ve had drafted to the NFL (at least since 1990). Even getting on the field would be a massive achievement for him.
Avery Williamson joined the Jets as a free agent from the Titans. He’d been a serviceable player there for a while but lost his full-time job in 2017 when Jayon Brown proved to be a far better player in coverage. Williamson is in a good spot but he has weaknesses that will likely prevent him being an elite LB. Over the past four seasons, he’s averaged just 60 solos a year.
Daron Lee is one of those average (at best) NFL players who fans think is good based on tackle numbers. He’s certainly not a good player (he lacks instincts and decisiveness) but he has been moderately productive. Moderately is the word because he has managed just 109 solo tackles (42 and 67 in each season) in 1,669 defensive snaps. That 6.5% tackle efficiency is poor but he still has a reputation as a player with high tackle numbers.
Kevin Minter is just a guy. He’ll fill in if and when someone gets hurt but isn’t someone worth holding.
There’s no avoiding the fact that this is a weak group. Jordan Jenkins is the star player here and he’s not very good. This will be a real test of Bowles and his team’s coaching ability because the team is absolutely desperate for production from here and there’s a talent void. It goes without saying that this is a situation to avoid in IDP.
Trumaine Johnson has been very productive at times as a Ram so this might look a little low. The biggest factor working against him is the stat crew. He’s a great example of a player who cannot be expected to simply reproduce his past statistics.
Morris Claiborne is a fairly average player at this stage but could have an opportunity to at least be a high-target corner.
And lastly, Buster Skrine should man the slot again. He was quietly very good in 2017. Only ten corners managed more than his 56 solos and he also contributed with nine PDs. Todd Bowles has shown his ability to use nickel DBs as creatively as anyone in the league (with the possible exception of Mike Zimmer) and Skrine is an interesting bet in deeper leagues.
Jamal Adams was a disappointment to me as a rookie. That feels like a weird thing to say but he just didn’t live up to the hype. He played OK but not brilliantly and if you’re going to invest a pick as high as the sixth overall then you best be getting an elite player. In IDP terms he was disappointing too. 63 solos was fine and his supporters will call it promising but Adams led the league in safety snaps with 1,103. He only managed a tackle on 7.4% of his snaps. 31 safeties recorded a figure over 10%. Adams has massive talent but he needs to play better in 2018 to justify the hype.
Next to him, Marcus Maye also played a huge amount at free safety. In fact, he finished seventh in safety snaps with 1,066. He actually managed a tackle efficiency of 7.3% (only slightly behind Adams’) which was encouraging. The discrepancy is that Adams played a lot in the box and Maye lined up deep most of the time. To have a similar tackle efficiency means that Maye was targeted a lot whilst Adams wasn’t getting to the ball as much as we’d like.
We’re likely to see a few things happen in 2018 here. Adams should improve his efficiency and Maye’s will decrease. But the smart bet would also be that both players are on the field less. It’s unlikely the Jets will remain the highest volume defense in the league and even if they do, I’d expect one or both of these players to miss time. Safeties normally don’t get through the season unscathed.
Leonard Williams. OK, stud is a bit of a stretch in IDP terms. But Williams has at least shown us high quality over a sustained period. He’s good enough to consistently make plays. If it all comes together then Akiem Hicks and Calais Campbell (in Arizona) have shown us that 3-4 ends can be productive IDPs.
Henry Anderson. I love him as much as anyone. But it just seems like it’s not going to happen for him. Let someone else get frustrated with him clogging up their roster.
Buster Skrine. Skrine isn’t a bad player. He’s looked good as a Brown and as a Jet – that’s no mean feat. He’s unlikely to ever be anywhere near as productive as Tyrann Mathieu or even Desmond King in 2017 but he’s a playmaker and he’s going to have some big weeks.
This looks like a season of unfulfilled potential. Jamal Adams, Avery Williamson, Darron Lee and Leonard Williams are all hot IDP tickets but the stat crew and general lack of pass rush is going to mean it’s tough for any of them to really be IDP superstars. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen but all Jets should probably be approached with caution.
Thanks for reading.