Pro Football Focus Ranks Prove Jets Must Change Narrative on the Field

Quinnen Williams

Getty The strength of the New York Jets is their ferocious defensive line, led by defensive tackle Quinnen Williams.

Death, taxes and NFL analysts taking shots at the New York Jets.

Ben Linsey of Pro Football Focus put out a full 32-team ranking for the starters of each NFL franchise and it should come as no surprise that the Jets didn’t fair very well.

From an outside perspective, the “same old Jets” mentality is still alive and well, while those of us following the team closely this offseason know that this could not be further from the truth.

General manager Joe Douglas has ripped out the poisoned roots of this organization day by day, implanting his own seeds in the new topsoil that is the 2021 season. Yet, analysts like Linsey and Jason La Canfora seem to be consumed by the past.

La Canfora rated Robert Saleh as the sixth-best coaching hire on June 18, in case you missed that one, and his reasons for doing so could have been summed up by the phrase “Jets are gonna Jet.” There was no substance behind the decision.

I’ll give Linsey more credit, his rankings are at least based on grades, but there are some contradictions in this argument as well. More on that below.

No matter what changes they make, the Jets can’t seem to prove their progression on the lineup card. It has become clear that they’ll have to do it on the field in order to get some recognition.

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Discrepancies From PFF

According to Pro Football Focus, the Jets have a top 10 defensive line in the NFL. That unit flaunts up-and-coming talent like Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, Folorunso Fatukasi, Bryce Huff, Jabari Zuniga, Nathan Shepherd and more.

Douglas also supplemented that group with veterans like Carl Lawson, Sheldon Rankins, Vinny Curry and Ronald Blair in free agency.

Don’t forget that it has Saleh as its head coach, a man who has become known as a catalyst for stellar pass-rush and defensive line play over the past five NFL seasons.

D-line is arguably the most impactful positional group in the sport on the defensive side of the ball. They influence the quarterback, create turnovers, stifle the run game, assist the secondary in coverage by generating pressure, and control the line of scrimmage.

With a PFF rank of seventh overall in this department, it seems we both agree the Jets are stacked at this position.

PFF also named the Jets the number one most improved wide receiving core in 2021.

Of course, most improved doesn’t mean best, but there’s no question that there has been an influx of playmakers on the NYJ roster. This includes Corey Davis, Elijah Moore, Michael Carter, Keelan Cole, Tevin Coleman, Tyler Kroft and the somewhat unlikely return of Jamison Crowder.

Their 28th ranked offensive line should also jump a few spots after Douglas signed Morgan Moses to play right tackle. PFF graded out the veteran as a 79.9 last season, second on the Jets to only Alijah Vera-Tucker’s college grade of 81.8.

Finally, Marcus Maye was rated the seventh-best safety in the NFL according to PFF’s Sam Monson. Another win for the Jets franchise.

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Who Should the Jets Rank Above?

It’s one thing to criticize without answers and another to point out where mistakes have been made. I intend to do the latter.

The Jets aren’t a top 15 NFL team right now, no one is arguing that, but 30th seems harsh after the dramatic alterations this roster has undergone in 2021.

They remain weak at cornerback, tight end and outside linebacker until proven otherwise. Zach Wilson is also still a rookie and that comes with growing pains.

Still, it’s hard to figure how they ranked below some of these other franchises.

Like the Jacksonville Jaguars and Carolina Panthers for example, who both cannot hold a candle to the Jets defensively. The Jags also have a rookie quarterback and rookie head coach, while the Panthers are starting the same signal-caller that the Gang Green sold away.

These two teams have the Jets beat at the skill positions but neither offensive line is very impressive. With Moses, New York probably has more upside than both, especially Carolina who currently has Cameron Erving as their starting left tackle.

The Cincinnati Bengals also fit that description of a team with a poor defense and O-line that seems to get a boost in the ranks simply because of their playmakers on offense. Football isn’t all about offense PFF, this game is won and lost in the trenches.

Some other franchises that could easily end up being worse than the Jets in 2021 are the aging Philadelphia Eagles and Atlanta Falcons. The stars of both these recent Super Bowl contenders are either being sold off like Julio Jones or on the perennial decline like Fletcher Cox and Jason Kelce.

The New York Giants and Las Vegas Raiders aren’t far ahead either. Jon Gruden and the Raiders have had another messy offseason involving a total reboot at offensive line and odd additions like running back Kenyan Drake.

The Giants on the other hand had a very positive offseason but have the lowest graded O-line in the NFL right now according to PFF. That type of deficiency can be tough to overcome.

In the end, I’d probably put the Jets right around No. 25 based on their 2021 draft and free agency grades, but I’m no PFF expert.

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Enough Talk, Let’s Play

Much of the mindset around Florham Park has been that talk is cheap.

Linebacker C.J. Mosley knows this better than anybody. The former Baltimore Ravens star has said many times this spring that the Jets will “let [their] play do the talking.”

Us fans couldn’t agree more. Week 1 can’t come soon enough.

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