Jets Forgotten Talent Named ‘Most Underrated’ Piece in 2022

Carl Lawson

Getty Former Auburn Tiger Carl Lawson hopes to play his first official game as a New York Jet in 2022.

Ask any New York Jets teammate about Carl Lawson and the answers are similar.

Some refer to him like he’s a superhero. “He’s a monster, he’s built like an action figure,” voiced tight end C.J. Uzomah. “He ain’t been stopped yet,” said defensive tackle Sheldon Rankins last summer. “I think we all want to be like Carl when we grow up,” joked defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers this spring.

That’s why the blow of losing the larger-than-life pass rusher was so catastrophic in 2021. Now, after a season on the injured reserve, Lawson is set to return and his aura has actually gone from hyped to underrated.

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Lawson Return Could ‘Spur’ Top 10 Pass Rush

According to Football Outsiders during an article on ESPN, Lawson is the Jets “most underrated player” heading into the 2022 campaign. They explained:

Lawson missed the 2021 season with a ruptured Achilles and underwhelmed with the Bengals in 2020 with 5.5 sacks. But that most recent sack number belied a total of 58 [QB] pressures that was seventh highest among pass-rushers, per Sports Info Solutions charting. He might not always bring a quarterback to the ground, but Lawson disrupts passers with hurries and hits that lead to the incompletions and interceptions that kill drives.

In other words, Lawson wasn’t necessarily making headlines for his personal numbers but his contributions with the Bengals had the potential to be massive. Unfortunately, he didn’t receive much help at the time.

Jets X-Factor analyst Michael Nania recently proclaimed that “the reason Carl Lawson only had 5.5 sacks in 2020 despite his elite pressure total was the lack of IDL talent on [Cincinnati].” As evidence, he listed the Bengals’ pressure leader on the interior D-line (10 total) who ranked 87th in the NFL, and added that their combined 37 pressures that year made up “one of the worst IDL units [he’d] ever seen” — at least in terms of pass-rushing.

Football Outsiders concluded that “a healthy [Lawson] return in 2022 could spur a Jets’ jump into the top 10 in pass block win rate,” adding that the franchise “ranked 16th last season without Lawson and without first-round rookie Jermaine Johnson II.”

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Please, for the Love of God, Stay Healthy

The single most disappointing thing about the 2021 season may have been that Lawson never touched the field — not even for a snap. The defensive end captivated Jets fans throughout OTAs and training camp with his intensity, effort, and sheer domination at practice.

Then in the blink of an eye, that exciting piece was gone.

A year later, the Lawson hype has fizzled a bit. Not because fans doubt the player or the man, but because everyone is collectively holding their breath hoping the Jets’ top pass rusher remains healthy in 2022.

Lawson is the straw that stirs the drink and this defense looks totally different with him on the edge. General manager Joe Douglas has stacked up depth behind him, almost as a safeguard, but additions like Jacob Martin and even Johnson or Micheal Clemons aren’t Lawson — at least not yet.

It’s not just about production, it’s about prestige. The defensive line looks to the mysterious edge rusher to be their general and without him in 2021, this unit collapsed in battle most games.

Now he’s back and if this group can remain on the field together the second go-round, it’s still the same scary thought fans couldn’t stop talking about last summer.

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