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Last week, the Jets officially confirmed they had hired Gregg Williams to be the team's new defensive coordinator. Williams brings with him almost 30 years of NFL experience, but what effect will his system have on the Jets' players?
The first observation to make is that Williams is a fiery motivator who demands accountability from his players. While this was an approach that he took a step too far when he was suspended for a year due to his involvement in the "Bountygate" scandal, his players have said he's the type of coach that makes you want to run through a wall for him.
But he's not afraid to bench a high-profile player if they make a mistake, or not working hard enough in practice.
Todd Bowles used to preach accountability and demanded respect from his players, but some of the insubordination from key players in recent years would suggest that started to fall on deaf ears. Williams' more abrasive style might create a bit of a culture shock at first, but you'd expect most players to respond well to him.
Williams' system has also been a cause of much debate. However, that concern could be overblown. The system is widely considered a 4-3 base, differentiating it from the past three Jets' coaches - Eric Mangini, Rex Ryan and Bowles - who operated out of a 3-4 base. Transitioning from Herm Edwards' 4-3 Tampa Two system into Mangini's 3-4 proved to be a headache as middle linebacker Jonathan Vilma was ill-equipped to take on more blocks with one less lineman ahead of him, and DeWayne Robertson wasn't built for a two-gapping role.
Certain sections of the media and Jets fanbase are understandably wary about a similar scheme shift in 2019. However, Edwards and Mangini each operated systems that were notoriously rigid and inflexible, whereas Bowles, Ryan and Williams all operate hybrid defenses with built-in flexibility, multiple fronts, and a variety of personnel packages.
It's a misnomer to consider Williams' defense as a pure 4-3, as he plays a variety of different packages and should be able to find a role for anyone. If anything, it's closest to Ryan's defense, as Williams admits he developed his system from that of Rex's father Buddy Ryan.
Consider Henry Anderson, who joined the Jets for the bargain price of a seventh-round pick and went on to have a career year as he tied for the team lead with seven sacks. Anderson was available for such a cheap price because he wasn't a fit for the Colts' new 4-3 system.
Some have suggested the Jets hiring Williams means there's no point re-signing Anderson now. But, for the majority of last season, Anderson was getting most of his work in sub-packages anyway, not in the base defense. So, if he re-signs he could end up in a very similar role despite the move from Bowles to Williams.
Leonard Williams is a player who could be rejuvenated in the new system. He played in a 4-3 scheme at USC and, in 2015, the Jets primary defensive front was a four-man setup as they sought to get Muhammad Wilkerson, Sheldon Richardson and Damon Harrison into the game at the same time as the rookie Williams.
Within those fronts, Williams primarily lined up inside, but also sometimes lined up on the edge, so the Jets can be flexible about who they employ on the line with him.
Darron Lee is another player who played in a 4-3 in college and who could respond well if the Jets opt to run more packages of that nature. He's fared well in coverage - especially last year - in his career so far, but has at times been washed out in between the tackles. Playing him as the mike in passing situations could be an option as well.
Cornerback Trumaine Johnson will hope that he can bounce back playing for Williams, under whom he enjoyed some success in the past. Many Jets fans were surprised the team employed Johnson in off-coverage so much last year when his reputation suggested he was capable of excelling in press coverage.
That was how Williams preferred to use him, including in 2015, when Johnson had career highs in interception (seven) and passes defensed (17).
One final point about Williams' system is that he likes to bring a lot of pressure, and is creative in how he goes about that. However, despite his stoic reputation, Bowles already had one of the more aggressive defenses in the league in terms of blitzing, so perhaps not much will change here.
Hopefully, the main difference will be that Williams' players will be less apt to screw up the coverage on the back end.