The defensive line is a fundamental part of Robert Saleh’s defense. New York has brought in numerous reinforcements this offseason to improve the unit and many expect it to be the anchor for the Jets on the defensive side.
One of those offseason additions is former Bengals defensive end Carl Lawson.
The 26-year-old signed a three-year, $45 million contract with $30 million guaranteed. The deal raised some eyebrows, considering Lawson’s limited sack production in his first four years in the league.
However, sack totals do not tell the full story with the Auburn product.
In 2020, he ranked excellently in other categories: first in the league in quarterback knockdowns with 27, second in the league with 32 quarterback hits, and tied for fourth in pressures.
The Jets will be relying on him to turn that pressure into sacks. At Tuesday's press conference on the first day of training camp, the Georgia native spoke on that topic, highlighting that finishing the play is a major priority for the upcoming season. He operates with the mentality that he missed 100 sacks last season.
“Every rush is supposed to be a sack to me,” Lawson said.
No. 58 is primed for a big year in Robert Saleh’s 4-3 system; as he put it, the scheme fit was “definitely attractive” and played a big role in his decision to sign with the Jets.
The 6-foot-2, 265-pounder is very optimistic about what this Gang Green defense is capable of, in particular because of his versatility up front.
“You gotta have waves, that way everybody can stay fresh, and I’ve seen tons of talent on this d-line, people who we don’t even really talk about, they don’t get talked about enough in this group. So it’s a hell of a group, and I feel like we could be as good as we want to be,” said Lawson.
With the Jets having lacked a consistent edge pass rusher for years, Lawson hopes he can help return the line to the former glory of the New York Sack Exchange during the 1980s.
“I love d-line culture. It’s not the sexy position that people talk about, but it starts in the trenches, o-line, d-line, and that’s how games are won and lost in this league, so I take pride in being part of the trenches,” Lawson proudly asserted.
The franchise is expecting their new defensive end to produce in a big way this fall. With their investment in Lawson, the front office clearly believes he can be the Jets version of Nick Bosa in Saleh’s scheme. We will get a sense of whether that’s the case in the coming weeks.
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