Improving the Pass Rush: The Blue Print

This article is a MUST READ (props to dvdvl for putting it in the Connections).  The article is largely about Calvin Pace and how the team expects big things out of him this year (maybe even double-digit sacks).  They basically say that Pace should be much more productive now that he's 100%.  But they also plan to utilize him more as a pure pass rusher, something they didn't do very much of these last two years apparently. 

However, and more importantly, the article also delves into coaching strategies and the application of new techniques to help improve the rush overall.  These golden little tidbits were shared by OLB coach, Jeff Weeks, and DL coach Mark Carrier.  Here's some of what I found fascinating...

Along with Pace, the Jets will lean on veteran outside linebacker Bryan Thomas, who had a team-high six sacks last season, and third-year player Jamaal Westerman, whom they have tagged as a "designated pass rusher."


Me likes the idea of a designated pass rusher.


The team used its first two draft picks on defensive linemen, Muhammad Wilkerson and Kenrick Ellis, adding youth to the front seven. Wilkerson, who is expected to contribute right away, has been studying a DVD the coaches made with cut-ups of Pryce, whom he mimics in size and style.

Having Mo study Pryce is definitely a good thing.


Weeks and defensive line coach Mark Carrier spent hours in the film room this offseason, part of that time devoted to a pass rush cut-up reel. They watched their own players, categorizing the plays by defensive call and charting the outcomes. They broke down every one of the nearly 1,200 sacks recorded in the NFL last year, marking down the circumstance (i.e. blown assignment) and the movement used (i.e. line stunts).

Very constructive use of the down time from the lockout. 


“We’ve added things; we’ve put more emphasis in our game plan and in our practice plans,” Carrier said. “Doing things to get movement with our front, studying film with our guys while we have the time. I’m trying to take more of an aggressive approach at the beginning of our training camp. Let’s get it in our mindset now.”

This is one of the things I've particularly hoped for with our 2 new DL draft picks, i.e. movement and aggression.  Mo and Kenrick are uniquely athletic for their size and we should definitely weaponize that ability.  Stunt and twist these guys as much as possible.  Preferably together.  They'd be impossible to block.  And to blitz off of that would just be devastating.


The coaches have added more pass rush drills to the meat of the padded practice... One focus for these drills, gleaned from the offseason film review, is working with their defensive front on converting from a run stance to a pass stance more quickly, Weeks said. When the defenders can tell the opponent is going to throw, they need to go at the edge of the offensive linemen’s bodies instead of straight ahead, allowing them to use their pass rush moves more effectively and create inside pressure.

This is one of the things that personally drove me nuts last season.  You'd see Pouha and Devito be virtually unblockable in the run game.  Owning one-on-ones, slipping through double... they would just constantly wreak havoc against the run all game long, game in and game out.  I could never understand how they could be blocked so easily when pass rushing.  Perhaps it was a just a simple matter of technique, and emphasizing and drilling that technique in practice. 


These coaches, under the guidance of Rex and Pettine, are the best in the biz.  I'm really excited about our pass rush this year.  A healthy Pace, an emerging specialist in Westerman, and two stud draftees on the DL in Wilkerson and Ellis are gonna make this group pretty tough to deal with.

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