New York Jets and the 4-3 Defense: Possible Defensive Line Groupings

July 5th, 2012
Quinton Coples at Minicamp

Quinton Coples gives the Jets a lot of versatility in defensive line groupings (Photo: US Presswire)

By Ryan Alfieri, Editor

With reports emerging that the Jets will follow their New England rivals and start to utilize more 4-3 looks, it will be interesting to see how they mix and match personnel on the four-man front.

The move to a 4-3 makes a ton of sense after drafting a player like Quinton Coples, who is more of a hybrid defensive end/defensive tackle than a 5-technique defensive end.

Here are some of the possible four-man defensive line groupings the Jets could use this season (names are lined up starting with the right defensive end, working to the left):

Run Stopping: Bryan Thomas, Mike DeVito, Sione Pouha, Calvin Pace

This is the most boring and bland mix of players possible, but it would be the most effective run-stopping grouping possible. All four players are experienced vets, that, while are not a collectively dynamic pass-rushing unit, will set the edge and prevent any big run plays from happening.

Strength: Run Stopping, Experience

Weakness: Pass Rush

All-Out Pass Rush: Aaron Maybin, Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Calvin Pace

This would be the Jets version of what the Giants like to call “Four Aces”, getting their best pass rushers on the field, regardless of position. You could also kick Coples outside, but his presence as an interior pass-rusher is more valuable than as an edge rusher, especially against guys like Tom Brady.

Strength: Speed, Pass Rush

Weakness: Runs to the left

Hybrid Fronts:

Bryan Thomas, Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Calvin Pace

This is still more of a pass-rushing front, particularly on the interior. The only difference between this front and the pass-rush front is that Bryan Thomas replaces Aaron Maybin for added muscle for run support.

Strength: Interior Pass Rush, Perimeter Runs

Weakness: Edge Rush

Quinton Coples, Sione Pouha, Mike DeVito, Muhammad Wilkerson

This front has a lot of potential because of its versatility. While Pouha and DeVito are not going to get much pressure on passing downs, nothing is running up the middle against these two.  Meanwhile, Wilkerson can play the role of a “read and react” base end, while Coples will be the primary pass rusher

Strength: Interior Runs

Weakness: Interior Pass Rush

Calvin Pace, Muhammad Wilkerson, Sione Pouha, Quinton Coples

This is perhaps the most “complete” combination of fronts. The Jets are able to get three pass-rushers on the field without sacrificing size and run support. With Pouha eating up blocks, Wilkerson could wreak havoc in the backfield.

Strength: Pass Rush

Weakness: Unnatural Positions


Tags: Muhammad Wilkerson, new york jets, Quinton Coples

2 Responses to “New York Jets and the 4-3 Defense: Possible Defensive Line Groupings”

  1. dave says:

    Wilkerson is a bigger and stronger than thomas or pace. He did very well against the run in his rookie year and by all accounts he has put in a tremendous amount of work this offseason. He will be featured in any run stopping front, with either pace or thomas at OLB. In fact, if we are on our own 1 yard line, expect to see Devito, Pouha, Ellis and Wilkerson from right to left, with both other guys at OLB with harris in the middle. This will be a formidable goal line D with Landry and Bell at safety. Those guys are a little slow, but they will excel when the offense has only 11 to 20 yards to work with.

  2. OedipusRexRyan says:

    I think that Marcus Dixon should and will be mixed in with some of these combinations, specifically the All-Out Pass Rush formation.

    I could see it like this:

    Maybin — Dixon — Wilkerson — Coples


    Maybin — Wilkerson — Dixon — Coples

    Replacing Pace with Dixon and kicking Coples out to LDE will be even more of a liability against the run, but I think this is the most effective 3rd and long four man front the Jets can use this year.

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