Jets’ New Bull-Rusher Thrives Doing the Dirty Work

Vinny Curry

Getty New York Jets edge rusher Vinny Curry chases down Aaron Rodgers on December 6, 2020.

Of all the signings the New York Jets made this spring, one that’s flown way under the radar has been veteran pass-rusher, Vinny Curry.

A Joe Douglas guy from their time together with the Philadelphia Eagles, Curry is known for his ability as a bull-rusher that has a knack of collapsing the pocket on opposing quarterbacks.

This type of dirty work doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet but it can be noticeable to the naked eye. It’s also paramount in winning and losing football games, and the former Super Bowl champion knows a little something about that.

Curry Is a Douglas Disruptor

We’ve been hearing more and more about this NFL term, disruptor. The Jets awarded Carl Lawson with a three-year, $45 million contract, in part because he was a top ten NFL disruptor in 2020.

We also heard Douglas talk about how he likes to scout edge rushers by their pressure rate and disruption rate, rather than their sack total. He admitted this to Chris Long on the Green Light podcast.

Curry has been more of a situational disruptor throughout his career, but he’s definitely cut from the same cloth as Lawson.

Jets X-Factor’s Michael Nania details the veteran’s game in an impressive film study, noting: “In 2020, he logged 25 pressures on 178 pass-rush snaps, a pressure rate of 14.0% that placed him at the 94th percentile among qualified edge rushers. In 2019, he had 41 pressures on 257 pass-rush snaps for an even more sparkling pressure rate of 16.0% (95th percentile).”

That efficiency rate is spectacular, and Curry has yet to really show his age in the pass-rushing aspect of his game (now 33). He’s also only missed 11 games from 2013-20.

In terms of overall performance, Pro Football Focus graded Curry a sturdy 77.9 in 2019, but that number dipped to 68.6 in 2020. A hamstring injury also hampered the veteran last season, which could explain the slight regression.

Rotational Role With the Jets

Curry may currently be listed as a starter on the depth chart, but this position will be fluid come September. For starters, he’s not much of a run-stuffer at this stage of his career.

His heyday stopping the run was in 2017 when he and Brandon Graham pushed the Eagles to number one in the NFL against it. According to Nania, that strength has since become a weakness.

With younger players like John Franklin-Myers, Bryce Huff and Jabari Zuniga all chomping at the bit to make an impact, there should be plenty of snaps to go around. The main question is; which player will be out there on what down and formation?

Huff and Zuniga had the lowest missed tackle percentages in 2020, which usually tells you how a defensive lineman fares against the run. Zuniga didn’t miss any tackles according to Pro Football Reference, and he was also rated as a sturdy run defender out of college. At the same time, he looked overmatched in year one and was limited to 103 snaps.

In 295 snaps, Huff only missed one tackle, which was still much better than Franklin-Myers’ high total of six. Curry missed three in 2020, but only one in 2018 and ’19.

These four can all rush the passer, but it’ll be more important to figure out which one can consistently stand tall against the run on first-downs. Ronald Blair could also factor in this role, but he’s expected to spell Lawson in the LEO position of the Robert Saleh defense.

Curry Is the Right Type of Veteran

In that interview with Chris Long, Douglas also spoke on when he likes to bring in veterans. He agreed with Long that there is a right type and a wrong type.

Curry still has a lot to offer on the field, but what he offers off the field helped him get signed. The veteran understands his job, and he enjoys being part of something bigger than himself.

He talked about the Jets’ formidable front four during a meet and greet on April 13, 2021: “I think the sky’s the limit… I think I fit right in with those guys, my game and the way I play the game. I think once we all get around each other and get a feel for each other, we have the potential to really be a force up front… Potentially we could be something special.”

The new Jets brass are only interested in high-character players, and Curry is right up there in terms of class and wisdom. If he plays this game at a high level in 2021, fantastic. If he teaches some of these younger players how to thrive as a professional, even better.

What type of impact do you see Vinny Curry having in 2021 at age 33? Let us know on Facebook @HeavyOnJets, or Twitter @obermuller_nyj and @BoyGreen25.

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