Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Sheldon Richardson's return to have immediate impact for New York Jets

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After serving his four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, Sheldon Richardson will return to the Jets for their Week 6 showdown with the Washington Redskins at MetLife Stadium. The third-year defensive end will look to put his additional legal troubles behind him and help fortify a defense that has excelled in his absence, thanks in large part to rookie defensive end Leonard Williams.

Much like Richardson did during his first two NFL seasons, Williams has shown a knack for both harassing quarterbacks in the passing game and shutting down opposing running games. While the first-year defensive end has just a half-sack to his credit through four games this season, he was great as a pass rusher against the Dolphins in London, hurrying Ryan Tannehill consistently and hitting him several times as Miami’s franchise quarterback struggled to get his offense moving.

With Williams’ early success and Muhammad Wilkerson’s continued dominance (21 tackles, 3.5 sacks) fueling the Jets’ 3-1 start, one might wonder where Richardson fits in upon his return. In Pro Football Spot’s early look at how the third-year star’s absence would affect the defense, the focus was on his pass-rushing abilities rather than his run defense, which was set to be in good shape with Williams in tow.

Through four games, those predictions have held mostly true, as the Jets are allowing just 3.8 yards per carry, tied for seventh in the NFL, while their rebuilt secondary has helped them allow just 5.7 yards per pass attempt, tied for first in the league. Williams has made an immediate impact rushing the passer, which wasn’t a certainty heading into the season, but the Jets have still averaged less than two sacks per game. This is where Richardson will come into play.

Read the rest at Pro Football Spot

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