The New York Jets’ version of the Big Three was a lot more talk than action. Now, the Big Three is about to be broken up for good.
Playing with the New York Jets’ big three was so cool in Madden. But when it became a reality on the field, the reality was far worse than anyone could have ever imagined.
The Jets had three first-round picks invested into their defensive line: Muhammad Wilkerson (2011), Sheldon Richardson (2013) and Leonard Williams (2015). In theory, they were supposed to become one of the most feared defensive fronts in NFL history.
Instead, the hype was way better than the actual results. But Jets fans are used to that, right?
Here’s a #ThrowbackThursday to an article written by ESPN’s Rich Cimini detailing the ineptitude of the big three when they’re on the field together.
Guys who can get after the quarterback—like this trio was supposed to—is one of the premiums in football. Franchise quarterbacks are the other.
All Jets fans know the team’s struggle in finding a franchise quarterback. The front office is painfully aware of that factoid as well. So, what’s the next best thing? Finding those pass rushers, of course.
It’s not that the trio didn’t have any success together. They did. Richardson was named the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2013. Combined, the trio appeared in four Pro Bowls, and Wilkerson had double-digit sacks twice—in 2012 (10.5) and again in 2015 (12.5).
But those successes were few-and-far-between and, more importantly, rarely at the same time. It wasn’t until this past offseason that the Jets saw the error of their ways and broke up the Big Three.
The first move was trading Sheldon Richardson to the Seattle Seahawks for a future second-round pick and what some considered a ‘no-name receiver’ in Jermaine Kearse, someone who many suggested the Seahawks just threw in the deal.
Ironically enough, he’s been the prized gem of the trade. ‘Captain Consistency’ should be his new nickname as Kearse has been as reliable a receiver as the Jets have. He’s on pace to smash his career marks in receptions, yards and even touchdowns.
T.Y. Hilton has been more effective than any other WR out of the slot pic.twitter.com/KephPEg5Hy
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) October 17, 2017
He catches everything thrown his way and has developed a rapport with Jets’ quarterback Josh McCown.
But back to the point. Richardson was sent away not due to lack of production—although that was a factor recently—but his due to his piss-poor attitude and his propensity for getting suspended.
But the dynamic duo of Wilkerson and Williams have failed to live up to the hype. Neither has a sack on the season. While stats are sometimes overrated, it’s hard to say that sacks are. So much for less being more.
Wilkerson was out of shape heading into the season and doesn’t look like he’s done much to improve in that regard. That’s going to make it easier for the Jets to trim the fat—his bloated contract—this coming offseason.
Per Spotrac: If the Jets release Wilkerson before Jun. 1, 2018, he’ll only count $9 million in dead money toward the salary cap—freeing up $11 million in cap space for the Jets. If they release him after June 1, 2018, they’d free up $17 million in cap space—but spread his dead money across two seasons—$3 million in 2018 and $6 million in 2019.
So unless something dramatically changes in the near future, there’ll be no Mo in the future for the Jets. Which means the once-vaunted ‘Sons of Anarchy’ will be a crumbled Pompeii monument that Jets fans can revisit occasionally online in memes.
Williams doesn’t escape unscathed in all of this. He talked a lot this offseason about becoming a dynamic sack-monster, something he’s come nowhere close to becoming.
“My goal this year is a sack in every game,” Williams told Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News back in August. “That’s my goal. It seems like something that’s pretty tangible. If you’re looking at it game-by-game, a sack a game doesn’t seem too far away (or) too far of a stretch.”
What he has become, is a hypocrite. For this past week, he told reporters that suddenly, sacks aren’t important.
— New York Jets (@nyjets) October 19, 2017
“[Sacks don’t] define my game,” the team’s official Twitter account attributed to Williams. “My teammates know how I come to work…At the end of the day, the victories matter most.”
Yes, the victories matter most and yes, I love Williams, but yes, he’s a hypocrite. He set the bar ridiculously high and now has to pay the piper that he’s not living up to expectations that, mind you, he set himself.
Inevitably the sacks will come because Williams is a transcendent talent. Well, the Jets are hoping that’s the case, anyway.
This new era of Jets football headlined by guys like Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye and, of course, Williams, will eventually bring a new flavor to Gotham. Perhaps one day they’ll develop into the team’s new Big Three.
But it’s time for the Jets to move on and call in the construction company to come demolish the old monuments of Sheldon and Muhammad and start fresh.
The Jets have some interesting pieces to work with and hopefully, this time around, instead of making teams that work well on Madden, they’ll put together a defense that works together well on the field.