We’ve been reviewing Jets history to try and come up with an all-Jets team that contains no all-pros and no pro bowlers. In part one, we looked at offense but now we turn our attention to defense and special teams.
For the purposes of this exercise, a player is ineligible for the team if he has been to a pro bowl (or AFL all-star game) or was voted as an all-pro, even if that occurred when he was playing for a different team.
We’re opting for a 4-3 system here, which may have influenced some of the tough choices we had to make at these positions.
On the interior, we’ve gone for Sione Po’uha and Marty Lyons, who should complement one another well. Po’uha developed into one of the league’s best space stuffing nose tackles under Rex Ryan, while Lyons had success both at end and tackle, so should bring a disruptive inside presence.
Lyons’ Sack Exchange cohort, Abdul Salaam, and Jason Ferguson - a late-round steal from the nineties - narrowly missed out.
At defensive end, Calvin Pace edges out his former teammate Bryan Thomas for one spot. He had 46 sacks in eight years, including 10 in 2013. On the other edge, the 6’6” and 285-pound Marvin Washington brings some good size to complement Pace playing a more versatile role. He had 37.5 sacks in eight years as a Jet after they drafted him in the sixth round in 1989.
The Jets are loaded at the linebacker position with Ralph Baker and Kyle Clifton both being worthy of a spot. Clifton was a Jet for 13 years and led the NFL in tackles three times, while Baker had 19 interceptions in 11 seasons and won a Super Bowl ring.
It’s well-documented that David Harris was never a pro bowler, but was once voted in as an all-pro. However, he was only a second-teamer so he’s still eligible for this team, although he had to fight for his spot with Greg Buttle and Marvin Jones also worthy candidates. Harris had over 100 tackles seven times and registered 35 sacks in 10 seasons as a Jet.
While he has the shortest tenure of any player we’ve selected for this team, Johnny Sample is more than worthy of one of the two cornerback spots. He played his final three seasons as a Jet, racking up 17 interceptions, and rode off into the sunset after winning a Super Bowl ring.
At the other cornerback position, let’s go with Bobby Jackson, a 1978 sixth-round pick who intercepted at least four passes in four of his eight seasons with the team.
There’s a couple of studs at safety with another Super Bowl hero - Bill Baird - at one spot and Victor Green at the other. Baird is the franchise’s all-time interception leader. Green led the league in tackles in 1996 and posted 24 interceptions in his nine seasons as a Jet.
The Jets’ all-time leading scorer, Pat Leahy, famously never went to a pro bowl, but was an all-pro once, rendering him ineligible for this team. Let’s instead go with John Hall, who is fourth on the team in all-time scoring, including the game-winner in the Monday night miracle and a 53-yard yarder in Oakland that got the 2001 Jets into the playoffs.
At punter, let’s go with Chuck Ramsey who was the Jets’ punter for eight years and was fifth in the league in yards per punt in 1980.
We also need a long snapper, so let’s bring in James Dearth, who held that role for nine years and also scored a touchdown in some rare offensive action in 2001.
Finally, in the return game, fan favorite Bruce Harper, the Jets’ all-time leader in punt return yardage with an average of just under 10 yards per return, gets that role on this team. However, Bobby Humphrey gets the kick-off return role. He was in the top five in the NFL for kick return average three times as a Jet, including in his rookie year in 1984 where he led the league.
This was a fun exercise, although you may have your own views about some of the choices we had to make. What it underlines though, is how a team’s chances can be bolstered by its strength in depth.
Hopefully Joe Douglas is getting to work on acquiring a bunch of players who might one day be in the conversation for a spot on this team, along with - hopefully - some who may yet render themselves ineligible by earning pro bowl and all-pro recognition.