Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Over/under projections for the New York Jets' defense

After taking a look last week at fair projections for the Jets’ offensive skill players, it’s time to see what kind of numbers could be in store on the defensive side of the ball. Defensive stats endure far more variance than offensive numbers, so picking over/unders is a much more difficult proposition.

Muhammad Wilkerson: 70 solo tackles, 8 sacks
Sheldon Richardson: 55 solo tackles, 6 sacks

Richardson is set to miss the first four games of the 2015 season on suspension, but he still has a great chance to make an impact on the Jets’ defense upon his return. In addition, Leonard Williams has been picking up the defense quickly and should fill in just fine, although he certainly won’t have the same impact as a pass rusher. Since it’s difficult to tell what Williams’ role will be upon Richardson’s return, no projections were included for the rookie. For more on how Richardson’s suspension affects the defense, here’s my breakdown from a few weeks ago.

As for Wilkerson, he was on a 16-game pace for around 70 tackles and seven sacks last season while playing 13 games with Richardson on the other side. Richardson’s absence may lead you to believe those numbers would skyrocket, but there are a few reasons that’s unlikely. With Williams filling in opposite Wilkerson over the first four games, teams are likely to attack that side of the field with the run. Wilkerson will also get more double teams over the first four games, and while he may be able to add an extra sack or two without Richardson getting to the quarterback quicker, that impact could be offset by the added attention.

The free-agent-to-be will be highly motivated to put in a productive season, however, which could lead to some inflated stats in a contract year. If Richardson isn’t in peak shape by the time he returns, Wilkerson will benefit from less attention while also being the better player and providing additional pass rush while Richardson catches up.

Read the rest at Pro Football Spot

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