Kris Jenkins was valuable in two different ways for the Jets. The first was his playmaking ability. He has unusual athleticism for a man of his size combined with great strength that allow him to overwhelm opponent blocking schemes even when double teamed. The Jets aren't going to be able to replace that. The second thing Jenkins brought was an ability to tie up blockers. Since he was such a dominant force, opponents had to dedicate at least two men to him on pretty much every play. Every blocker dedicated to Jenkins is not going to affect anybody else on the play, making life easier on the rest of the defense. The Jets have one man potentially capable of doing that, Sione Pouha.
I keep thinking back to the game in which Pouha saw his most extensive work, Week 16 of the lost 2007 season at Tennessee. Pouha led the Jets with 7 tackles that day and helped the team control the line of scrimmage for the first time all year as the Dewayne Robertson nose tackle experiement ended as a failure. Since then, the Jets have acquired Jenkins. Pouha didn't play much until Sunday, when again he held the point of attack.
I'm sure we'll see the Jets experiment a lot with different fronts. I've heard a lot of people suggest they'll show more 4-3 looks, but they were already showing them. This defense isn't Eric Mangini's where everybody must line up in the same spot on every play. The scheme might not change much. The team just needs Pouha to play with enough leverage to control the point of attack and free up other guys to make plays. The Jets will miss Jenkins' playmaking ability a lot, but if Pouha steps up, this defense can still be good, and this team can still have a good year.
Do you think Pouha can step up?