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New York Jets: Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

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The Star-Ledger-USA TODAY Sports

I think we would all go crazy if we didn't have at least a little bit of good news. The Jets certainly do their best to prevent positive thinking, but there is one silver lining at the start of the season.

The Jets lead the NFL with 14 sacks. They also lead the league with 103 yards opponent yards loss off sacks. It is a spare over 25 yards per game. Football Outsiders had the Jets registering a sack or intentional grounding on 8.4% of opponent passing attempts prior to the Detroit game, second best in the NFL through three weeks. They added another 4 sacks and an intentional grounding against the Lions, a one game rate of over 10%.

What is really exciting is how the defense is led by a pair of versatile defensive linemen under the age of 25. Muhammad Wilkerson is on a 12 sack pace early in the year. Sheldon Richardson is on pace for 8. It's unusual to build a defense around a pair of big 300 poundish interior types, but these guys are getting to the quarterback.

Among 27 defensive ends in 3-4 base defenses, Richardson ranks third in total disruptions (sacks+hits+pressures) according to Pro Football Focus behind only J.J. Watt and Jurrell Casey. Wilkerson is seventh.

The work of the pass rush is particularly impressive when one considers the problems this team has at cornerback. These aren't the days of Revis locking his man for five or more seconds until the rush gets there. Antonio Allen is on pace to allow over 1,500 receiving yards in coverage by himself.

So while the Jets might be looking at a very long season, there is at least a strong foundation of top tier talent somewhere on this roster to build around going forward. We haven't always been able to say that about bad Jets teams. That's at least a little solace.

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