In committing to Muhammad Wilkerson, the Jets have decided to keep the trio of Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson, and Leonard Williams together for at least two more years.
There has been some degree of questioning as to whether the team would invest in Wilkerson with two other players who nominally play the same position and can handle similar roles on the roster. Can the Jets keep all three on the field together?
The deal for Wilkerson indicates Todd Bowles thinks so. Any competent organization would have discussed this and have ideas in mind before giving Wilkerson such a deal. While it has been dangerous to assume the Jets are run by competent people in the past, the current regime has earned a benefit of the doubt in its short tenure.
So how will the Jets utilize Wilkerson, Richardson, and Williams at the same time?
I am sure we will see a lot of four man defensive lines with these three all on the field at the same time. These guys are versatile and good athletes. They can handle multiple spots on the defensive line.
Yes, I know the Jets are categorized as a 3-4 defense. That does not mean they line up with three lineman and four inebackers on every play, though. They run their fair share of plays with a four man line, and Wilkerson saw extensive duty as a 4-3 defensive end last year.
I'm usually not a big fan of using one GIF to prove a player's worth, but this one really sticks out. Take a look at how Wilkerson chases down Tyrod Taylor, a pretty athletic quarterback.
This is a guy who is built like a three technique tackle who still has the athletic ability to beat a mobile quarterback one on one.
Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Wilkerson is built like a three technique tackle but still athletic enough to have a career year playing a lot as a 4-3 end. I think Wilkerson's athleticism is a bit undersold. It might have to do with the contrast to Sheldon Richardson. Mo isn't the eye-popping athlete Richardson is, but he is very athletic for a guy of his size.
Beyond four man lines, I think Todd Bowles' defensive style will create matchups for these three guys if they are all on the field together. Where they line up isn't necessarily all that important. Bowles' heavy blitzes mean all of the blockers are going to be occupied. Offenses can't use extra blockers to help double team the Jets' defensive linemen because these extra blockers have to pick up blitzers. This means one on one matchups for Wilkerson, Richardson, and Williams. Here are a couple of plays Richardson and Williams disrupted against the Patriots and Tom Brady by winning one on one battles created by blitzes.
Brady even does the Hackenberg point at his helmet thing in the first one.