Certain NFL positions never seem to get the credit they deserve.
The nose tackle definitely fits that description more than most and Folorunso Fatukasi has become one of the best in the game when it comes to this role.
The 2018 sixth-round pick out of Connecticut was a total anomaly for the New York Jets under general manager Mike Maccagnan — a late-round sleeper.
Now approaching his fourth NFL season, “Foley” has become as reliable a player as there is in terms of doing his job, which is clogging the gaps and stuffing the run game.
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Recognition From PFF
Sam Monson of Pro Football Focus wisely awarded Fatukasi with the honor of “most underrated” Jets player that’s currently on the roster.
“Fatukasi recorded the best PFF run-defense grade from any interior defender outside of Aaron Donald,” noted Monson in reference to the defensive tackle’s 86.2 grade against the run in 2020.
Foley has actually been a model of consistency ever since gaining playing time in 2019, with an 87.6 grade on run defense the year before and 13 tackles for a loss over the two campaigns combined.
Jets team reporter Ethan Greenberg also highlighted his run-stop-win rate which ranked fourth for all defensive tackles at 42%. Fellow teammate Quinnen Williams actually finished first in the NFL in this category at an impressive 49% win rate.
Another key to Fatukasi’s game is his durability, which should not be understated at a grueling position like this. Out of 32 possible games from 2019-20, the nose tackle appeared in 29 of them, which equated to 1,152 snaps on both defense and special teams.
Although it wasn’t really his main responsibility to rush the passer, Foley faired decently at the task in 2020 with a career-high nine quarterback pressures and two sacks. He also totaled a career-high in tackles, combining for 42.
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Jets Defensive Line Will ‘Feed off Each Other’
Fatukasi caught up with Jets team reporter Olivia Landis after minicamp to recap the spring period.
The defensive tackle told Landis that the best thing he got out of the offseason workouts was the “comradery” aspect with both returning teammates and fresh faces.
“Having Sheldon [Rankins], Carl [Lawson] and Vinny [Curry] are great additions,” Fatukasi commented, “they’re great pieces to have on this D-line.” He went on to compliment Rankins for being explosive and strong, Lawson for his twitchiness and technical hands, and Curry for his savviness as a 10-year veteran.
Fatukasi called the “ability to feed off” one another the D-line’s greatest strength so far. “I think it’s something that develops over time, but the fact that we’re all able to get in together and understand what we need to do and understand what we want to accomplish, I feel like it gives us great energy to feed off of.”
He continued: “We can see something that needs to change or we can see something that we want to do and we can accomplish that, or work towards that direction, and I think that’s a great thing.”
In terms of his own play, Foley told Landis that he has focused on “football IQ” and “remaining a student of the game” this offseason.
“I’ve had the pleasure of being around a lot of great teammates and a lot of great vets that have taught me the ropes,” Fatukasi explained, noting that the ability to “understand what’s about to happen in this game, or what’s going to happen in a play” has helped him in his goal to perfect his craft.
Heading towards 2021, the defensive lineman voiced that he “feels very confident,” adding that he thinks the Jets “are going to come out this year and do something special.”
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