The Jets want to get out of the AFC East basement and play meaningful football in 2022, and they’ll need their defense to make it happen.
Gang Green’s defense took the lead this season, but they’re still holding out to the rest of the division. There is, of course, a legitimate possibility that the Jets group reforms to become a top-20 entity. The AFC East has a stud defense, so the improvised jets can still hover downwards. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just goes for a talent show and defensive coaching is strong within the division.
The Jets ended their season with a secondary that included Brandin Echols, Bryce Hall, Jason Pinnock, Michael Carter II and Elijah Riley. The team understood it was in dire need of an overhaul and so did it. The Jets included cornerback DJ Reed, who signed to a three-year deal in free agency, and Ahmed “Sauce” Gardner, the 2022 No. 4 overall pick, in their second, along with Jordan Whitehead and Lamarcus Joyner, who signed for free. Did it Agent.
In the trenches last season, he rarely controlled the line of scrimmage, and finished with 33 sacks, tied for fifth-lowest in the league, and allowed 138 yards on the field per game.
To elevate the trenches, he picked up FSU defensive end Jermaine Johnson, number 26, in the 2022 draft, to amplify his struggling pass rush and run defense. The defensive line should be better with the return of Carl Lawson as well as Johnson, who missed 2021 with a torn Achilles. They will add to a talented defensive line that also includes John Franklin-Myers and Quinnon Williams, both of whom produced a solid last season, accumulating six sacks.
For reference, here’s how other AFC East defenses compare:
The Bills defense suffocated opposing offenses by allowing fewer yards (289) and points (18.3) per game on their way to back-to-back AFC East crowns. They still have their All-Pro defensive stars from last year: cornerback Trey White and the dynamic safety duo of Jordan Poore and Micah Hyde. And after his fave of youth (four sacks through the playoffs) to win Super Bowl LVI with the Los Angeles Rams made a splash by signing future Hall of Famer Von Miller to a six-year, $120M contract.
The Patriots were third in points allowed last season (19.4), but they lost Jesse Jackson, a star cornerback, to the Los Angeles Chargers in the off-season. But any defense led by Bill Belichick will always be on top because of their plan. Since Belichick became the Patriots’ head coach in 2000, the Patriots have dropped out of the top-10 in allowed points only four times. So it is not wise to dismiss the Patriots as defensive outright. But this season could be one of his outliers as his talent level is not that typical.
The defensive brilliance of dolphins presents a bounce or bust outlook. Bounce: Dolphins have talent. He has two edge rushers in Emmanuel Ogba and 2021 first round pick Jalen Phillips, both combined for 17.5 sacks. There are some pro bowlers in his secondary at cornerback Javine Howard – who also has All-Pro honors – and cornerback Byron Jones as well as rising star safety Jevon Holland. These five led the Dolphins’ strong defensive end last season, allowing 15.5 points per game in their last nine games. The Dolphins had to use some backup QBs during that race. Bust: When he played the better QB in the first eight games of the season, he allowed 29 points per game. He also fired Brian Flores, but kept defensive coordinator Josh Boyer in hopes of continuing the successes of the previous season.
The Jets and their fans will not know if they have started playing their divisional rivals this season. Leaping the Dolphins and/or the Patriots would still be progress for the Jets, even if it’s because those two teams’ defenses would have returned.
And with the extra talent of the Jets, it’s not impossible.