Defense wins championships, and when the defense might need some help, a future Hall of Fame quarterback can help push a franchise to the Lombardi Trophy.
Tom Brady was the missing piece for the Buccaneers when they demolished Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV, and the Jets have adopted that formula with Aaron Rodgers as their designated savior.
The Jets have talked the No. 1 defense talk and starting on Sept. 11 against the Bills, it will be time for them to walk the walk, and they can’t wait.
“They’re gonna be the best defense in the NFL for sure,” Breece Hall told The Post.
Asked why, Hall said: “We don’t have a missing piece anywhere on our defense.”
Robert Saleh has studs at all three levels: Quinnen Williams up front, C.J. Mosley at middle linebacker and Sauce Gardner in the secondary. Saleh can send waves of fresh, violent, All Gas No Brake defensive linemen at the quarterback just as he did as 49ers defensive coordinator.
“They should make life difficult for every quarterback they face,” NFL Network’s Brian Baldinger told The Post. “Quarterbacks should get challenged, from start to finish, and it should keep them up late at night how they’re gonna handle some of the things that they do, because they can pressure at the line of scrimmage with the best of ’em and normally that takes a little bit of time for the receiver to win, and for the quarterback to believe the guy’s gonna win.”
And if coverage on the back end from Gardner and D.J. Reed forces the quarterback to hitch once or twice, and get hit early and often, he will become skittish and more prone to interceptions or fumbles, and face a deafening, intimidating roar come the fourth quarter.
“This could be tough on quarterbacks around the league,” Baldinger said.
Saleh expects edge rusher Carl Lawson (back) to be ready to rumble for the regular-season opener. Bendy, long-armed first-round pick Will McDonald looks like he can make an impact. Jermaine Johnson is bigger and stronger and poised for a breakout in his second season. Micheal Clemons is an enforcer. Unsung Bryce Huff has the fastest get-off.
“I feel like with Will and Jermaine and Bryce, they’re about as good as anybody off the edge right now,” Baldinger said.
The one fly in the ointment: The Jets have forced the second-fewest turnovers (30) across the last two seasons. Safety Jordan Whitehead dropped four potential interceptions last season, according to Pro Football Focus.
“They’re gonna get 50 sacks plus,” Baldinger said. “They got a lot of fumbles last year, they didn’t recover hardly anything. These guys could really change the game in some of these second halves if they’re playing with the lead. If they can get takeaways and extra at-bats for Aaron, you give him the ball at the 30-yard line in, he’s not gonna hand the ball over, he’s gonna try and score right away.”
Williams is the leader of the band.
“Quinnen’s got rare power,” Baldinger said. “That’s the most important thing is to be able to get that inside push.”
Saleh loves that egos are left at the door.
“There‘s enough-pie-for-everyone type of mindset,” Saleh said.
The New York Snack Exchange.
Mosley is the Aaron Rodgers of the defense.
“He’s smarter than any coach,” Baldinger said. “I did a film breakdown with him, he sees things so fast. … He really digests formations, motions, movements and plays so quickly. He actually helps our other players, and takes things away from the other team while he’s en route to doing his own job.”
Gardner and Reed are among the league’s best cornerback duos.
“They’re as good as anybody right now,” Baldinger said.
Nickel back Michael Carter has grown into the role. “I feel like he’s really settled into his niche,” Baldinger said.
The Jets replaced Sheldon Rankins and Nathan Shepherd with Al Woods and Quinton Jefferson on the interior of their defensive line.
“John Franklin-Myers has a little bit of an anchor, Solly [Thomas] isn’t an anchor guy. … They need somebody that can just eat double-teams and free guys up, and Al’s the closest guy they have,” Baldinger said. “He’s s real important ingredient. When they lost Foley [Fatukasi] two years ago, I thought that was a big loss. I thought it showed up last year. They need a big guy in the middle right now.”
No. 1 defense?
“I don’t see them giving up a whole lot of touchdowns to be honest with you,” Baldinger said. “They could be the No. 1 defense. San Francisco had that title last year, they didn’t have a weakness on that defense and I think they got better this year. They’ll give ’em a good run for their money, but they’re not as good on the corner in San Francisco as the Jets are with Sauce and D.J.”
No. 1 defense?
“We’re trying to win the day we have, but we do have a goal in mind, and that’s being No. 1 defense,” LB Quincy Williams said.
Storm warnings are up. Aaron Rodgers plus a No. 1 Jets defense? The perfect storm.
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