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Jets $50 million investment in dominant defensive line is paying off

Jets investment in defensive line
New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh watches his team during the first half of an NFL football game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday, Nov. 6, 2022, in East Rutherford, N.J. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
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When Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh were hired to change the fortune of the New York Jets, their consistent message was to build a strong front seven on the defensive side of the football. 

After their 20-17 upset win over the Buffalo Bills, it’s clear that the investment made by Douglas and Saleh has not only paid off but has set the Jets in a position to make the playoffs for the first time since 2010. 

Against Buffalo, the Jets’ defensive line sacked Josh Allen five times and forced him into two key interceptions that turned the tide in New York’s win. Jermaine Johnson, Quinnen Williams, and plenty of others got consistent pressure and forced the Bills to be one-dimensional. 

With all the talk about their offensive woes and quarterback play, it’s the Jets’ defensive line that has consistently been the best part of the organization. 

New York’s defense is a top-five unit in all of football in rushing yards per attempt, and net yards gained per passing attempt. While Sauce Gardner and DJ Reed may get the credit for the Jets’ reversal of fortune on defense, it’s the defensive line that is playing the biggest role right now. 

That’s just the way Joe Douglas and Robert Saleh envisioned it as well. 

The Jets’ defensive line has the highest cap hit of any position group on the team with over $50 million invested in the entire group. Three of the four top cap hits for New York are among the defensive line and four of the top seven cap hits in total. 

Not everyone on the defensive line is producing singularly as dominant players. But that is the key to the roster construction that Joe Douglas has created. 

It’s also not like the Jets haven’t had star players make the most of their chances at the position group either. Quinnen Williams has been one of the best interior linemen in all of football and has been a key reason for the Jets’ defensive success. 

The defensive line is one of the only groups in football that can tilt a game for an underdog consistently when the talent is there. Super Bowls have been won because of overpowering pass rushers and physical run defenders. 

New York may not be a Super Bowl contender just yet, but the defensive line is more than dominant enough to be the catalyst for a playoff run. That’s just the way New York’s front office and coaching staff have wanted it. 

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