It's up in the air who named the Jets' defensive line of Sheldon Richardson, Damon Harrison, and Muhammad Wilkerson the "Sons of Anarchy," but there's no question how disruptive and dominant the line has been. Without much help from the secondary, it's helped return Rex Ryan's squad to its place as one of the best defenses in the league. Here's how.
The 2012 Jets were not very good, but they didn't go 6-10 because of their defense. The dysfunctional offense derailed the team, but Rex Ryan's defense wasn't too shabby, ranking in ninth with a -4.2% defense DVOA. But this year, the addition of Richardson and development of Harrison has completely changed the makeup of the defense.
Last year's squad was actually better against the pass than the run, but this season that's flipped. In 2013, it's the run defense powering the Jets. So far it's been best in the league, allowing a league-low 73.8 rushing yards per game, after being middle of the pack in adjusted yardage to running backs last year. The Jets have the best run defense DVOA in the league by quite a substantial margin, according to Football Outsiders. The line has stuffed a league-high 30% of the run plays called by the offense. When it comes to crucial conversions for the opponents—measured by FO as runs of two yards or less on third or fourth down—the Sons have held opponents to the second lowest success rate in the league at 40%. Meanwhile the pass D, outside of Antonio Cromartie, has been lacking.
The Sons have destroyed pockets and killed running games quickly. They're the heart of the resurgent Jets, so it's worth taking a closer look at each of the "3" in this 3-4 defense.