While there's been a lot of attention focused on the loss of Darrelle Revis this offseason, Robert Mays of Grantland wrote an excellent and extremely detailed piece articulating why the flexibility and strength that Jets DL Muhammad Wilkerson exhibits on the field will be central to what the Jets will do going forward with this defense, and near the end uses the example of the drafting of Sheldon Richardson as a prime reason why the Jets fluid 3-4/4-3 scheme is so crucial to their success.
When the Jets drafted Sheldon Richardson with the 13th overall pick in April, there was some confusion among fans and experts who viewed New York as a strictly 3-4 defense. Richardson is a prototypical 3 technique tackle in a 4-3, a penetrating playmaker. The selection is only further proof that the Jets aren’t bound by a particular approach defensively. It’s this willingness to defy convention that’s turned Wilkerson into one of the league’s premier young defenders. Last December, he had hoped his strong second half would be enough to get him to the Pro Bowl as an alternate. It wasn’t to be. “I felt like I kind of made a little name for myself last year,” he says. “I’ve just got to keep playing how I’ve been playing.” Wilkerson says he isn't concerned with being mentioned alongside Watt or Smith or Miller. Still, he knows this year can be special.Regardless of everything else, the one thing that Rex Ryan has done to this team has been to supercharge this defense and with players like Wilkerson, it's easy to see how. Wilkerson might not grab all the flashy defensive stats, but it's becoming increasingly easy to see just how dominant Wilkerson was in 2012 and should continue to be in 2013. The team might have a tough year ahead of them, but there's no doubt that Wilkerson's play will be a highlight.