FLORHAM PARK. N.J. — The Jets’ defensive line has pressured or gotten to the quarterback consistently in training camp, which could be a sign of what’s to come this season for Robert Saleh’s front four.
Tackle Sheldon Rankins hardly held back when he talked about how disruptive this group could be.
"I expect it to be damn good," the former Saint said after Monday’s practice. "I’ve played with some dudes. The dudes I’m playing with and in this scheme, I feel like the sky’s the limit. I feel like whoever we roll out there, teams better buckle their [expletive].
"We’re coming, and when that group gets tired, the next group’s coming. We expect to do that for 60 minutes week in and week out and dominate games."
Saleh wants his front to attack and mess up the quarterback’s rhythm the way his defenses did in San Francisco. The first-year head coach made upgrading the Jets’ front — which already was their strength — a main objective.
The Jets signed edge rusher Carl Lawson, Rankins and defensive end Vinny Curry, adding them to a group that already featured Quinnen Williams, John Franklin-Myers, Foley Fatukasi, Nathan Shepherd, Kyle Phillips and Bryce Huff.
"The only position that can really genuinely affect the quarterback without really having to do anything goofy so you can play just good, sound fundamental football in the back end is the defensive line," Saleh said. "Winning one-on-ones, getting in the quarterback’s face and making his life absolutely hell is always priority No. 1."
This group is embracing the priority and enjoying playing freely. Franklin-Myers, who had three sacks last season, loves the change from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme. He said it allows him to just play football.
"I go attack somebody," he said. "I get to hit somebody every play. There’s no reading. There’s no false steps. I enjoyed playing that defense [last season], but I think this attack front, this just fits me and fits a lot of guys here."
Rankins agreed, although he used more colorful language.
"We attacked in New Orleans but also we played gap sound football from the standpoint of making sure you’re always in your gap and building a wall," Rankins said. "Here, it’s let’s just get three yards in the backfield however the [expletive] it happens."
Lawson has been the most dominant player in camp. As Rankins put it, "He ain’t been stopped yet."
Lawson had what would have been a tackle for loss Monday. Franklin-Myers had a "sack" as he continues to show he could start on the opposite side of Lawson.
As impressive as the line has played, it still is missing some key players. Williams, who did some position drills and running Monday, still is about two weeks away from returning from foot surgery. Phillips and Curry are working their way back from injuries.
Rankins is daring opposing teams to play the Jets’ front one-on-one or just double Lawson and see what happens. "They can’t double-team everybody," he said. "They can try, but then they’ll have one-man routes. That’s what we want . . . With the guys we have, they can’t just key in on one guy. If they want to send everybody out there to Carl, thank you. I’ll gladly take one-on-ones, Quinnen will gladly take one-on-ones, JFM, Foley, Shep. We’ll gladly take those and win those."
Notes & quotes: Morgan Moses, who is 6-6, 330 pounds, on playing with 6-7, 365-pound Mekhi Becton: "I thought I was a big dude. I line up and I’m like, ‘Dang, he’s blocking the sun from me.’ " . . . George Fant, last year’s starting right tackle, is expected back Tuesday after being out with COVID-19. Moses is projected to start at right tackle but looks forward to the competition with Fant. "Everything I’ve worked for in the league, I’ve earned," he said.