Schott: Sheldon Return Makes Jets Defense Stronger

(Neil Miller / Sportsday Wire)

Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles was brought in to build the Jets’ defense back to one of the elite squads in the NFL. Through four games, it appears that they are back to what they were five years ago.

The Jets’ defense is strong, and will get even stronger, as defensive end Sheldon Richardson is making his return from a four-game suspension this Sunday against Washington.

Bowles said of what it means to have Sheldon Richardson back, “Anytime you have a good football player, you welcome him back with open arms. We know he’s a great football player. He just adds to the mental psyche of the defense getting a player like that back and the defensive line is so close, they’re happy to have him back. We’re all happy to have him back. It benefits him because he gets to play and do what he loves and loves to do and what he does best. It benefits the defensive line because they have one of their people back. Hopefully as he’s going forward, it benefits the whole team.”

On the nature of the plan to integrate Richardson, Bowles said to laughter, “I’ll tell you Sunday night.”

On if Richardson will start, Bowles said, “We’re not going to get into that now. That would be giving the game plan away. Depending on what package they come out in, he may. There’s things in there for him. I’m not going to say he is or he isn’t. If they come out in something else and he doesn’t (start), that makes me out to be a liar. There are some packages for him that if they start the game a certain way, he could start.”

Bowles said of Richardson playing the entire game, “No, he won’t play the entire game. I don’t think any of them will. We’ll platoon them and rotate those guys and see how fresh they are.”

On what Richardson brings to the defense, Bowles said, “He’s a good football player and any time you have a good football player you put them out on the field and let them play. You don’t have to do much for him. He makes his own plays. So, hopefully that will be the case when he gets in shape.”

The Jets coaching staff stressed three categories with the defense for this season: third downs, forcing turnovers and red zone efficiency.

Bowles said of being pleased with them, “So far. I mean, it’s early we have a long way to go. Although you’re pleased with the results, we know internally that we did a lot of things wrong that we have to clean up and going forward, we’re trying to work on that.”

One thing the Jets have succeeded in is their amount of takeaways, especially in their win on Monday, September 21 against the Colts.

On what he believes is the reason for all of the takeaways this season, Bowles said, “I don’t know, they come in bunches. I’ve been on teams where we’ve practiced them a bunch and we didn’t get many. I’ve been on teams where we barely practiced them and we got a bunch of them. The guys are conscious. They’re aware of it. I mean the quarterbacks hurry some. Sometimes those guys make great plays. Sometimes they’re errant throws. They come in a variety of ways. I’m just happy they’re coming.”

Bowles said of his thoughts about Willie Colon playing on Sunday, “He’s limited. We’ll see if he goes these two more days and we’ll make that decision on Friday.”

The blitz is a staple of Bowles’ coaching philosophy, and he said of that, “We blitz for different reasons. Sometimes it’s to hurry the quarterback, sometimes (it’s) to get the ball out of his hands. Sometimes we try to get a sack, sometimes we try to cover up the back because he gets out of the backfield. There’s a bunch of different reasons of how and why we do things. Fortunately, for us it’s working and we try to mix it up and keep people honest at the same time. We have a bunch of good guys and they’re locked in right now and we’re just getting better.”

On if he thinks pressure and takeaways go hand in hand, Bowles said, “If you can catch the ball, yeah it goes hand in hand. Some guys drop some balls and sometimes we’re going to give up a play or two, but that doesn’t deter us from trying to do what we’re trying to do.”

On if he would blitz less if the opposing quarterbacks aren’t as accomplished, Bowles said, “Again, it’s all part of the game plan. We don’t blitz just to blitz. There’s always schematics involved in that and there’s a reason why we do certain things. We may blitz just to get the ball out. It doesn’t matter whether it’s a good quarterback or a young quarterback. You have to blitz them differently. Schematically, you try to do certain things that you can still take advantage of.”

Bowles said of what he has seen from Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins, “He’s poised. He’s a young quarterback still. He learned a lot from last year. He commands the team very well. He knows the offense inside out, reads defenses well, he’s tough, he’s gritty, and he makes big throws when he has to.”

Washington wide receiver DeSean Jackson could be in the lineup on Sunday after missing four games with a hamstring injury.

On how big of an impact he thinks Jackson will have if he plays on Sunday, Bowles said, “We’re counting on him to play. He’s been practicing for two weeks now. I’m pretty sure he’ll come up ready to play. We’re expecting all of their guys to play and then if they don’t play on Sunday, that’s not going to change what we do.”

On if he sees a future for Washington’s backup quarterback Robert Griffin III in the NFL, “He was a great player coming out. I think that question is better suited for the Washington guys than it is for me, because I don’t see him on a daily basis.”


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