Throughout his career, Jets’ coach Rex Ryan has been a mastermind at generating defensive pressure with creative blitz packages. In Baltimore, he made famous the crazy overload blitzes that sent multiple rusher through a single gap. Yet, upon his arrival in New York, he has largely been unable to manufacture similar results.
Obviously, he didn’t forget everything he learned in Baltimore. It seems to be simpler than that.
The New York Jets do not have enough quality pass rushing personnel.
In his stint with the Ravens, Rex Ryan had big name pass rushers like Haloti Ngata and Terrell Suggs (last year’s defensive MVP). With the Jets, he has had Bryan Thomas and Calvin Pace.
Not exactly the same tools with which to work.
In fact, a top flight pass rusher with double digit sack stats has not donned the Green and White since John Abraham in 2005.
New York used to have some very good rushers (Shaun Ellis, John Abraham), but the front office allowed those gems to walk without having proven replacements. I emphasize “proven” because New York has made several attempts to upgrade their pass rush, but to no avail.
2006, the Jets drafted Ohio State DE Vernon Gholston with the 6th overall pick. Over a 3 year period in New York, he failed to register a sack and struggled to get onto the field at his new OLB position. Was it the result of him playing out of position or could it have been something else?
Five years later, in 2011, the Jets had modestly upgraded their pass rush, with a few players flashing potential (Calvin Pace, Bryan Thomas). They even brought in underachieving 1st rounder from Buffalo, Aaron Maybin to help out—a good move considering Maybin led the team with 6 sacks in 2011.
New York Jets Pass Rushing Stats
An asterisk (*) indicates a sack number pro-rated for a 16 game season
Nevertheless, anyone can make a strong claim that Rex Ryan needs to attack the draft and come away with some help for his defense because he can only scheme so many sacks. Eventually the players must win a one-on-one battle with a blocker once in a while.
The primary focus of this discussion is to identify what a Rex Ryan pass rusher looks like, and then to match that description with potential matches, or targets.
As he describes in the video above, Rex Ryan values physicality/power first and foremost. If a prospect lacks physicality, or an ability to hold up against the run, that is a major knock against him.
In order to be physical, Ryan prefers players with a large frame. His edge rushers are generally around 6’4″/265 lbs. and the linemen are about the same height but outweigh the OLB’s by at least 25 pounds. Additionally, the linemen like Mo Wilkerson and Quinton Coples have remarkably long arms.
So far, the prototype pass rusher for Rex Ryan is at least 6’3-6’4, weighs between 240-265 pounds, is very physical at the point of attack, and can play well in the run defense.
Another key distinction here is that Ryan or the front office places a high value early in the draft on potential. Having great physical tools is a huge deal in New York. Look at Quinton Coples and Mo Wilkerson on defense, or Vlad Ducasse and Stephen Hill on offense. These prospects were not great producers, but had off the chart potential.
Rex Ryan dreams big. He takes risks. He wants to hit a home run more than a double. There are loads of anecdotes to express that notion. All these anecdotes remind me of Jimmy Fallon’s “50% more clams” commercial.
Let’s take aim and set our sights on some potential targets for New York in the 2013 NFL Draft.
No player in the country has sacked the quarterback more times than DaMontre Moore. He has played both 3-4 OLB and 4-3 DE in his career, and he has the length and build that the Jets like. He is good enough against the run, and has upside considering he has much to learn in the way of diversifying his rushing moves. He moves and is built very much like DeMarcus Ware.
6’5″/ 265/Florida State/DE
Carradine is another prospect that closely fits their ideal build at OLB. He has long arms, excellent bend, and is quite strong. ESPN’s Scouts Inc. describes Carradine’s run defense:
Like his hand usage in this department as he is heavy handed to get into blockers pads with initial punch. Also flashes quick hands to disengage and redirect when locked in a phone booth.
That, plus 9 sacks so far makes him a good candidate in New York.
If the New York Jets don’t get their act together soon, they will definitely have a chance at selecting any pass rusher they want in the draft.