Now that we are about halfway through the regular season, it is time to start considering which players are most deserving of a Pro Bowl selection. For this series, we will look at three candidates for each team. Obviously, some teams will have more or less than three players selected to represent their team in Hawaii, but for simplicity purposes, we will discuss the top three either way.
Next on our radar are the top three players most deserving of Pro Bowl consideration from the New York Jets.
Top Midseason Pro Bowl Candidates: New York Jets
It’s no surprise that all three Pro Bowl candidates for Gang Green come on the defensive side of the football. That unit had always been formidable under previous head coach Rex Ryan and continues to be under Todd Bowles, himself having had a successful stint as a defensive coordinator with Arizona before arriving in New York. The Jets have already exceeded their win total from last season in large part due to their prowess on defense.
Wilkerson has been a critical cog in that success, both in terms of slowing down the run and pressuring the quarterback. There’s a good chance that he will set career highs in both tackles and sacks in his fifth season with the team. His five sacks to this point are good enough for the team lead and he also leads all 3-4 defensive ends in quarterback hurries with 26. In fact, when you combine all pressure events on quarterbacks (sacks, hits and hurries), Wilkerson’s 46 is bested at his position only by New Orleans’ Cameron Jordan.
The 2011 first-round pick is enjoying perhaps his best season as a pro, and if it continues there’s certainly a good chance we will see him get his first invite to Hawai’i.
Jets general manager Mike Maccagnan hit it out of the park when he selected Williams with the sixth pick of the 2015 NFL Draft. He had to have been amazed that the talented defensive end out of Southern Cal fell into his lap the way he did when many draft experts had Williams off the board right after Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota.
Williams has definitely made the most of his opportunity to start right out of the gate as a result of Sheldon Richardson being suspended for the first four games. He’s played the second most snaps of all rookies at his position, leads all rookie defensive ends in quarterback hits and is second only to Wilkerson among Jets defensive linemen in total tackles.
Whether or not he actually makes the Pro Bowl remains to be seen. The fact of the matter remains that in Williams the Jets have a phenomenal talent with a ton of potential to become a key component of the nucleus this franchise is assembling on defense for years to come.
Revis doesn’t appear to be showing any signs of decline in his triumphant return to the Jets. With half the season complete, the nine-year veteran is for all intents and purposes a lock to appear in the seventh Pro Bowl of his illustrious career. Opposing wide receivers, for the most part, continue to be castaways on “Revis Island.”
Only two cornerbacks in the league have more interceptions than Revis’ three up to this point: the Giants’ Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Carolina’s Josh Norman. Norman is the only corner other than Revis that’s allowing a lower percentage of receptions to opposing receivers who come into his coverage. And quarterbacks who throw in Revis’ direction have a cumulative rating of 44.0 on such throws. Again, only the two cornerbacks mentioned above have better numbers in that category than the 30-year-0ld future Hall of Famer.
“Defense wins championships” is an oft-repeated cliché that may be losing its relevance in a league that continues to make it easier for offenses to succeed. Nevertheless, teams with prolific players on that side of the ball, like the Jets, will utilize their defensive proficiency to compensate for the perceived shortcomings they have on offense. It may not be a formula to contend for a Super Bowl, but in an extremely top heavy AFC, it may be just enough to see them into the playoffs.