Important signing

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Some people might look at it . . .

as a nondescript May signing to fill out the roster.

But it’s much more than that.

SNY’s Connor Hughes announced the Jets are signing veteran defensive tackle Al Woods.

This is a very important signing.

Woods fills a huge need, and I mean huge in more ways than one.

The Jets need to find a massive run-stuffing defensive tackle this off-season. They got gashed up the middle on the ground too much the last couple of years, due to undersized defensive tackles getting engulfed by massive guards and centers.

Under Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich, they generally go with smaller, quicker defensive tackles who make their hay beating athletically challenged interior offensive linemen into gaps off the snap. But if they don’t win initially, sometimes they can get velcroed to blocks.

The only defensive tackle with great size they had the last couple of years was Nathan Shepherd. But while his motor is terrific, he got handled too often by single blocks and was on the ground too much. He also committed too many penalties. He’s now with the New Orleans Saints.

They didn’t address their need for a massive run-stuffing nose tackle in free agency before the draft or during the draft. Yes, they signed Quinton Jefferson, and he’s a good player, but he’s 6-4, 291. Big, but not like Woods, who is 6-4, 330.

After the Jets-Seattle game, I was walking under the Seahawks stadium heading to the Jets locker room, and walked by Woods, and I’m like, “Who the heck is that?” Big man – thick from head to toe.

And at that moment, I’m thinking to myself, “The Jets need a guy like that.”

Now they have one.

Remember, this was after a game the Jets got gashed by the Seahawks on the ground, including a 60-yard run by Kenneth Walker on Seattle’s first offensive play. On this run, Quinnen Williams was handled by Seahawks lineman Charles Cross.

Williams had company on this play, like linebackers being out of position, but the bottom line is Williams needs a huge dance partner inside at defensive tackle.

I know it’s like a third-rail issue to bring up, maybe because people don’t want to tick off Williams’ agent and lose access, but while Williams is a superb interior pass rusher, he’s pedestrian against the run, and anybody paying attention, has seen a number of big runs at him over the years.

That is the challenge of doing Williams’ contract. What do you pay a terrific interior pass rusher who is up-and-down against the run? Great defenses are strong up the middle against the run. The Titans gave DT Jeffrey Simmons a huge contract this off-season, but he’s outstanding against the run. Same with Washington’s Daron Payne and the Giants’ Dexter Lawrence, who also got paid big bucks. Some are saying Williams should get paid more than Simmons, Payne and Lawrence. Look, Williams deserves a really nice contract, but where is it written he needs to make more than Simmons/Payne/Lawrence?

Woods has made a living during a dozen years in the NFL being an immovable object in the middle of defensive lines making it very hard to run up the middle.

I saw one report about how the signing of a massive nose tackle like Woods is a philosophical departure from the current scheme.
What would they be philosophically opposed to, being more stout against the run up the middle?
May 4, 2023
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Dan Leberfeld
Dan Leberfeld
Publisher of Jets Confidential Magazine. Call 1-800-932-4557 (M-F, 12-4) to subscribe. Co-host of Press Coverage every Saturday on SiriusXM NFL Radio from 11-2.

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