I think the outside linebackers are playing better for the Jets than most would be willing to admit. Calvin Pace is having a strong year. He has been excellent against the run. New York's rushing defense has struggled, but Pace has set the edge well.
Aaron Maybin has done good work as a situational player. He has registered 3 sacks and forced 3 fumbles. He is clearly a limited player, but he has added an element the team lacked. His motor has let him get to the quarterback after initial coverage held instead of the quarterback having all day as has happened frequently with the Jets the last few years.
I still think it is tough to fully approve of the outside linebackers. That is because of what the Jets have not gotten from the other starting position. Bryan Thomas got a lot of good press. I thought his play was never that great on a good day. He was never that good of a pass rusher. I also felt like his play against the run was overrated. The primary job of a guy at his position is to rush the passer. He has never been great doing so. The way the Jets talked about his run defense always seemed to me like baseball where a catcher who is a bad thrower gets praised for calling a good game. It is impossible to fully quantify so people kind of use it as a crutch to explain away a critical weakness.
In any event, I thought his play was subpar this year before his injury. He was inconsistent setting the edge. He also struggled as a pass rusher. Aside from a great day against the Patriots for Jamaal Westerman, he and Josh Mauga have been just as ineffective.
Pace is a good run stopper who would be an excellent second pass rusher from the outside linebacker spot. Maybin is a good situational guy. What the Jets need is a primary pass rusher, a player strong enough against the run to play on first and second downs who can also win a one on one and generate some pressure. Until they find that guy, it will be tough to fully approve of the outside linebackers.
Do you agree?