The New York Jets defensive line has gone AWOL for the most part through the first six weeks of the season. The line has too much talent to be nonexistent. For the Jets to be successful in the remaining part of their schedule, which is not easy, they need to have a pass rush that is disruptive.
What Happened to the New York Jets Defensive Line?
Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams have ZERO sacks so far on the season. The Jets as a team only have seven sacks on the year, which ranks 31st in the NFL. When the Jets got to Tom Brady in week six, you could see the frustration that Brady had when he hit the ground. If the Jets did that more often during the game, maybe they end up winning.
Forget the sacks for a moment; the Jets are not even hitting the quarterback. Wilkerson has only hit the quarterback once this season. By letting the quarterback sit in the pocket comfortably, they gain confidence throughout the course of a game. The quarterback does not have to give too much worry about getting hit because the Jets cannot rush the quarterback.
Stopping the Run
The defensive line is not only responsible for the lack of sacks; they are also responsible for stopping the run.
The Jets rank 28th in the NFL in run defense, giving up 139 yards per game. So not only are they not getting to the quarterback, they are not getting any penetration and losing the battle in the trenches.
If you stop the run, you force the offense to pass the ball a little bit more. Even though this issue is not going to turn around all together, they need to take it one step at a time and begin to stop the run. The defensive line needs to toughen up in the trenches, dig in and start to become a force.
Muhammad Wilkerson Needs to Show Up
The Jets gave Muhammad Wilkerson a new contract before the 2016-17 season for five-years and $86 million. Ever since this contract was signed, Wilkerson has not been the same player.
Injuries have lingered for Wilkerson over the past two years, but this cannot be an excuse anymore. If he is in the lineup, he needs to show up. If he is injured then make him inactive. The inconsistency in his play has to stop and he needs to become the player that he was before he signed his new contract.
The Jets have the option to cut Wilkerson after this season and create a lot of cap room. If he does not start performing, the Jets might not have a choice but to cut him.
Is Leonard Williams Starting to Become a Bust?
Through two and a half seasons, Leonard Williams has ten career sacks. The sixth overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft had huge expectations coming into the league and even after his first season as a Jet. Just like Wilkerson, Williams does not have any sacks on the season.
Williams will definitely be back as a Jet next season, but no one knows how much of an impact he will have for the rest of the season and going forward.
The Jets defense will not be successful without production from the defensive line. The players on the line have too much talent to be kept without a sack on the season. Todd Bowles and the rest of the defensive coaches need to find ways to get these guys going. A majority of the Jets success rests on the ability to create pressure from the trenches.