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Jets believe Carl Lawson gives them big edge rushing the quarterback

Carl Lawson #58 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks

Carl Lawson #58 of the Cincinnati Bengals looks on during warmups before the game against the New York Giants at Paul Brown Stadium on November 29, 2020 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Credit: Getty Images/Justin Casterline

New Jets edge rusher Carl Lawson hasn’t been at the team’s voluntary OTAs, but he’s been in constant contact with the coaches.

Lawson sends them video of workouts and gives feedback on the defense. The coaches love Lawson’s attitude and they believe the former Bengal will have a big year.

"He is a worker," new Jets defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich said. "He is just a natural worker, wants to be great at what he does. He’s an absolute technician."

The Jets signed Lawson to a three-year, $45 million deal to be the edge rusher they’ve been missing for years and fill a key role in new head coach Robert Saleh’s 4-3 defense.

In San Francisco, where Saleh was a defensive coordinator for four years, the front four wreaked havoc on the quarterback. Ulbrich said Lawson will give the Jets "a speed element" on the outside that "can create a hitch in the quarterback."

"To speak to the importance of the position, it’s huge," Ulbrich said. "You look at San Francisco, they went from top 10 to top 3, top 2, top 1 when they added Nick Bosa and Dee Ford. When they finally got a speed element outside to complement what they had on the inside they just went to another place … He’s going to be a huge part of our success."

Lawson had 5.5 sacks last year for the Bengals. Ulbrich expects those numbers to increase and not just because of the scheme, but also because the Jets have some strong interior linemen in Quinnen Williams, Sheldon Rankins and Foley Fatukasi.

"A lot of times edge rushers miss because quarterbacks can step up into the pocket," Ulbrich said. "We have so many interior guys I don’t know how much of a pocket there will be to step up into. From that standpoint I think he can definitely have an increase in sack total.

"He’s a fun guy to talk to, obsessed with the game, obsessed with the technique. He wants to become the most technical pass rusher in the league and he works his butt off to do that. I can’t wait to get him in the building. He’s going to have a tremendous influence on the other guys when they see the work ethic."

Mosley’s impact

C.J. Mosley hasn’t played in an NFL game in nearly two years, but he’s reminding his new coaches and teammates of the impact he can have.

"I’m so excited about C.J. and what he brings to this defense and what he brings to this team," Ulbrich said. "He is one of those authentic alpha leaders, just knows how to run the defense. He’s the field general. He’s the old school Mike [linebacker] that you look to and I’m very, very excited about what he can do within this defense."

The Jets have made major changes on both sides of the ball, but it’s fair to consider Mosley perhaps their biggest addition. The four-time Pro Bowl inside linebacker still is the most established and accomplished player on the Jets.

Mosley opted out last season because of concerns over COVID-19. This came after a disappointing injury-plagued first season with the Jets. After signing a five-year, $85 million deal, Mosley appeared in just two games.

But he’s back and quickly making his presence felt on and off the field through the first two weeks of voluntary OTAs.

The Jets signed inside linebacker Jarrad Davis away from the Lions, sparking rumors that they wanted to trade Mosley. Davis said Mosley brings out the best in everyone around him.

"I honestly love being able to have someone of that caliber next to me. I know everybody else out there does, too," Davis said. "Being able to have someone who is as locked in and as focused on his job as he is just helps raise the bar and the expectation of what you’re going to come to work and do every single day.

"He sets the tone. He’s made a name for himself in this league. Just seeing him work, it allows us to all just really come out there raise the bar and gives us a mark to hit."

Right on Q

Quinnen Williams made a big jump from his rookie year to last year, emerging as one of the top interior linemen in the NFL. Now Ulbrich believes Williams could have a breakout season in this system.

Ulbrich said Williams "checks every box" as a three-technique tackle. The Jets will line up Williams, who is recovering from foot surgery, on the outside shoulder of a guard and just let him loose.

"Finally let this guy just jump out of his shoes and be aggressive and attack, he’s going to get to do that in this defense all the time," Ulbrich said. "For a guy with the explosiveness that he has and the strength and the length and all the stuff that he’s got, to me he’s the ideal three technique. I’m very excited to see him just unhinge and just do what he’s born to do. He’s got all the stuff you can’t coach."

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