Defensive line coach Karl Dunbar and assistant Anthony Weaver have started to bring out those qualities. For Dunbar, who coached arguably the best defensive line in the past decade with the Vikings, Wilkerson’s promise and potential are undeniable. Dunbar believes a defensive lineman’s greatest career leap occurs between his first and second seasons.
“When you already understand what’s going on, the game slows down visually,” Dunbar said. “You don’t slow down physically, but you understand what’s coming… and the good athletes explode. I think that’s where Mo is right now. He’s in a different place than he was last year. He understands the game and it’s easier for him.”
Ryan likens Wilkerson’s skill set to perennial Pro Bowler Richard Seymour, whose sack totals were never indicative of his true value as a lineman. Although Wilkerson has only two sacks this season, the tape reveals his true impact.
A few weeks ago on our podcast, Corey suggested we start calling Muhammad Wilkerson BeastMo and it was a notion with which I wholeheartedly agreed. While Rex was perceived as this defensive sackmaster coming into the Jets, part of that came from the players he had in Baltimore. Rex has never had the excellent edge-rusher since coming to New York who can play three downs, but even so he has pointedly not made an emphasis of that statistic. Instead he cares more about three and outs, and even simple QB hurries - especially considering the secondary he has with or without Revis.
It's clear that Wilkerson is a player that the Jets will be able to build around in coming years, but he's going to need a solid Nose Tackle to help him out, as we saw earlier in the season when Sione was playing injured. Down the stretch I hope that Ellis gets to see more time in the middle and can stake a claim to a larger role in the future, and a more dominant one at that.