There isn’t a group in New York this season that has the potential to be as dominant as the Jets’ defense in 2023.
New York returns eight of the 11 starters on a unit that finished in the top three in most statistical categories and should be even better with another year under Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich. What does a successful season look like for the defense this year? Another top-five finish? Multiple All-Pros?
We go through the top five boldest predictions for this Jets defense heading into their first game against the Buffalo Bills.
Quinnen Williams wins Defensive Player of the Year Award
New York has a lot of dominant defensive players. The best on the field is their interior defensive tackle. Quinnen Williams is coming off a breakout season that helped him become the second-highest-paid tackle in football behind Aaron Donald.
What does a new season have in store for him? In short, more dominance. Williams finished seventh in the DPOY voting, and this year is the time for him to win the award. Williams will have over 15 sacks and be the first Jets’ defensive player to win the prestigious award since Hall-of-Famer Joe Klecko did it in 1981.
Sometimes NFL seasons are like poetry. This is one of those instances.
Sauce Gardner takes a small step back in Sophomore Year
Many of Gang Green’s fanbase won’t agree with this take, but it’s not so outlandish when context is added. Sauce Gardner is already a top cornerback in football. He was the first rookie since Ronnie Lott in 1981 to be a First-Team All-Pro in the secondary.
As good as he was though, there is always a fear and expectation of being unable to match the numbers in his sophomore season. He also has to go up against an unbelievable list of receivers in 2023. AJ Brown, DeVonta Smith, CeeDee Lamb, Stefon Diggs, Davante Adams, and Tyreek Hill are just a few names he has to go up against.
I’m not saying that Gardner will struggle this year. He’s still a great player and will have a lot of success. Based on his rookie season, it’s easy to see how the numbers may not be as good this year.
Jets’ pass rush totals over 70 sacks
The most dominant group on the Jets defense is their pass rush. New York possesses three different ways of edge rushers that can consistently get after the quarterback quickly.
In 2022, the Philadelphia Eagles were the first team since the 1980s to record over 70 sacks. In 2023, the Jets’ dominant pass rush (which is deeper than the Eagles were last year) will join them on the 70-sack list and threaten the 1984 Bears’ 72-sack record.
C.J. Mosley leads the league in tackles and finally gets First-Team honors
This is almost like a cheat code. Mosley has been one of the best and most consistent linebackers in football. Mosley has made the Pro Bowl five times while has been a Second-Team All-Pro in each of those seasons.
In 2023, that changes. Mosley finally gets his First-Team All-Pro honors while leading the league in tackles (something he has never done). The former Raven is considered the heartbeat of the defense, and it shows. When he plays, the Jets are successful. Every time he’s been hurt, the team has severely struggled.
Quincy Williams, Tony Adams, and Jermaine Johnson make their first Pro Bowl
We predict the Jets will have five defensive players make a Pro Bowl this year. Mosley and Williams (DT) will be the returners, but they won’t be the only players making the honor.
Quinnen’s brother Quincy, pass-rushing dynamo Jermaine Johnson, and safety Tony Adams are going to make the trip to Orlando. Quincy Williams is already looking like a top-linebacker in football. Johnson had a massive training camp and looks the part of a player about to break out for the first time.
Then there is Adams. The undrafted free agent is seen as a favorite among his defensive peers and should be a welcome sight in the secondary in 2023. He will make his first Pro Bowl and solidify the back end of a top unit.
Bonus: Defense ranks as top unit in football
The Jets have All-Pro talent at every level of their defense. Very few organizations in the NFL have that at their disposal. In 2023, the addition of Aaron Rodgers at quarterback could allow for minor mistakes occasionally, but that won’t happen.
New York has the top defense in football. They’ll play like it this season. Against a division that may not be as good as many people think, the Jets will finish the 2023 regular season as the top defense against the run, pass, and overall: one of the few teams ever to complete that trifecta.