I don’t think it’s a secret to anyone that the New York Jets need help with their pass rush. They finished 28th in sacks last season, and they never could seem to generate any kind of consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
The Jets have been looking for a good edge rusher, a glaring need for several years now, but to no avail. The million dollar question is who will be the guy to finally step up and be that edge rusher the Jets need to be successful this season?
Could it be Jordan Jenkins, who started 15 out of 16 games in his second year in the league last season?
Or will it be Lorenzo Mauldin, their third-round pick from 2015, who flashed a bit his first two seasons, but who also missed all of last year after back surgery?
After watching the film and trying to discern who has the best chance to be “The Man” this year, my money would be on ... David Bass.
I can understand if you have a confused look on your face right now.
David Bass has bounced around a bit in his first five seasons in the NFL. Originally drafted in the seventh round out of Missouri Western State by the Oakland Raiders in 2013, the 6’4, 267-pound outside linebacker didn’t even make it to the regular season before getting cut. When the Jets picked him up last year after the Seahawks cut him a couple of weeks into the season, they were the fifth team Bass had been with in his first five seasons.
Journeyman would definitely be an accurate description.
But a funny thing happened last season — Bass actually played damn good after he arrived in New York.
Oh, he didn’t set the world on fire or anything. But in 13 games with the Jets and only two starts, he still managed to lead the team’s outside linebackers in sacks with 3.5. By contrast, Jenkins, who was there all year and started 15 out of 16 games, could only manage three sacks of his own.
In the grand scheme of things 3.5 sacks is not exactly something to throw a party for, unless you did it in one game. However, it’s on film where the distance between Bass and the other guys becomes most obvious.
I don’t know what Bass runs in a 40, or what he bench presses, or how high he can jump, but what I do know is the guy knows how to work his moves and get to the quarterback.
I watched the other Jets edge rushers from last season, including Jenkins, Josh Martin and Kony Ealy, trying to get pressure from around the horn, and it seemed like all those other cats knew how to do was bull rush. And look, bull rushing done right is an art form. But this wasn’t that. It was more like they would all just run right down the middle of offensive linemen and then get stuck.
With Bass I saw a guy with a much more varied pass rush attack and, maybe more importantly, a guy who continued to do counter-moves when the first move or second move was shut down. It doesn’t seem like much, but it was noticeable to me that there were very few passing plays where the quarterback threw the ball and Bass was still stuck on a block. He may not have been close enough to affect the quarterback at the time of the throw, but he wasn’t just sitting there doing a two-step with an offensive lineman either. With those other guys there were far too many times where once they were blocked, they stayed blocked.
Maybe it’s because Bass played for a few other teams and was exposed to different defensive line coaching that he looked so much more polished than his Jets teammates. Whatever the reason, it wasn’t close when it came to his technique versus theirs. He was constantly trying to either keep the offensive linemen’s hands off him or get them off if he missed the first time. And, subsequently, he was able to get around them.
The thing about Bass finishing with 3.5 sacks, a career high for him, is the Jets didn’t even play him on third-and-long all that much. Instead they kept opting to bring in Ealy on passing downs a lot more than his actual play warranted for some odd reason. The more film I watched, the harder time I had understanding why the Jets didn’t use Bass more instead. The good news is Ealy is gone now, so they can’t make that same mistake again this season.
I don’t know that Bass can get double digit sacks this season, but if he can win the starting job, or hell, just get more burn on passing downs, I don’t see any reason why he can’t double his sack output from last season. Seven sacks would be damn good for a Jets edge rusher in recent history. There is no doubt in my mind Bass can do it if they give him the opportunity this season.
Confidence level: Moderate