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NY Jets: The Second Best Pass Rusher

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Everybody knows the best Jets pass rusher this year.  He is Leonard Williams.  He is the only player on the Jets team that has a shot at the Pro Bowl.  He is the only player on the Jets team that wins his matchups game in, game out.  Even so, as great as Leonard Williams has been, he still has only six sacks on the season and may not reach double digits. No double digits, probably no Pro Bowl, which would leave the vaunted Jets defensive line without a single representative in the NFL's weird end of season pseudo football showcase.

Leonard Williams has six sacks.  Do you know who has the second most sacks on the Jets? Preseason bets would have been placed on Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Lorenzo Mauldin, probably in that order.  Good guesses all. Those guys currently rank tied for 3rd/4th, 5th, and tied for 3rd/4th, respectively, with 2.5, 1.5 and 2.5 sacks, respectively. The fact that those three guys have combined for 6.5 sacks on the year, a total we might have expected any one of them to reach by this time in the season, says all you need to know about just how disappointing the Jets pass rush has been this season. Then there's the coup de grace. The man currently ranking second on the team in sacks with a grand total of 3.5 is none other than nose tackle and part time player Steve McLendon.  That's right, the 30 year old run stuffer who had racked up all of five sacks in his prior six seasons in the NFL currently has only half a sack less than former Pro Bowlers Muhammad Wilkerson and Sheldon Richardson combined.  That's the kind of season it's been for the Jets pass rush.  The Jets notched seven sacks in their opening day loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.  They have accumulated 12 sacks in the ensuing 10 games combined.  Leonard Williams had 3.5 sacks on opening day. He has 2.5 sacks in the other ten games this season.  Even Leonard has largely disappeared from the pass rush.  The Jets now rank 30th in the NFL in sacks, and dead last in sacks after opening day.

There are many reasons for the Jets lack of success this year. Prominent among them is the complete disappearance of the pass rush from a defensive line that was expected to challenge for the NFL lead in the category.  The Jets have invested extremely heavily in defensive backs and defensive linemen in the last decade.  All they have to show for it is a secondary that can't cover anybody and a defensive line that can't get to the quarterback.