NY Jets had correct John Franklin-Myers usage in 2022

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By: Rivka Boord

John Franklin-Myers has an intriguing blend of skills, and the New York Jets found the correct way to use his talents

A broken clock is still right twice a day.

Maybe that’s why the New York Jets got this right.

Or maybe Robert Saleh and Jeff Ulbrich actually do know how to get the most out of certain players.

Last offseason and into the regular season, multiple Jet X writers clamored for the team to move John Franklin-Myers to defensive tackle on a far more regular basis. We talked about how he had been such a powerful pass rusher from the interior in 2020 and that his skills were being wasted off the edge.

I criticized Ulbrich heavily for using JFM almost exclusively on the edge after the first three games of the season.

However, after looking back at the regular season and examining the film, I am penning another apology note: JFM is an excellent edge player, and that is where he brings the most value to the Jets.

For one thing, Michael Nania noted that Franklin-Myers is the Jets’ most consistent edge-setter in the run game, leading the team’s edge defenders with a plus-18 margin of positive plays to negative plays against the run. This might not fly off the TV screen, but it does jump out on the All-22 film. In fact, only Quinnen Williams (plus-29) had a larger margin of positive-to-negative plays in run defense among the Jets’ defensive linemen, per Nania’s film study.

Yes, Micheal Clemons and Jermaine Johnson are up-and-comers in run defense, and Clemons’s positive-to-negative ratio in Nania’s study was a whopping 3.67-to-1 against an approximated league average of roughly 1.3-to-1. Clemons is a beast in the run game.

However, when you couple in JFM’s pass-rushing off the edge, it becomes a no-brainer: he is also an above-average edge rusher with hidden value in that area. He is the Jets’ best two-way edge defender. And that makes him indispensable on the outside.

You may not have realized it, but Franklin-Myers’s 13.5% pressure rate ranked 18th out of 67 qualified edge rushers (min. 290 pass rushes), per Pro Football Focus. That’s good for the 75th percentile.

Even his 4.75% sack plus hit rate was above average, ranking 24th (66th percentile). What was truly impressive, though, was his true pass set pressure rate, which ranked third at 21.8%. JFM is a nightmare blocking matchup when the QB is dropping straight back to pass.

Furthermore, when you adjust pressure rates to an average level of true pass sets vs. non-true pass sets, Franklin-Myers’s pressure rate rises from 13.5% to 14.1%, which is good for 14th (81st percentile).

Obviously, these numbers do include some interior reps. JFM played about 30% of his snaps inside, and many of those came in third-down passing situations, in which the Jets would bring Bryce Huff on the field and kick JFM inside to have their best pass-rushing foursome in the game.

Still, even JFM’s base pressure rate is impressive enough to account for his pass rush off the edge. He’s a very good edge rusher. That’s one of the reasons he fended off a first-round pick at the position.

The one frustration that remains with JFM is that the Jets take him off the field too much. Considering this level of play, it’s difficult to understand why Franklin-Myers was on the field for only about 58% of the snaps. He did not miss a game in 2023 and left the field for very few reps due to injury (only in one or two games and for limited periods of time). I still think Ulbrich’s insistence on his heavy defensive line rotation is foolish, and JFM’s usage is a part of that.

However, I am fully on board with the Jets leaving JFM at the edge position for 2023. Whether they choose to restructure Carl Lawson or cut him, this edge group is far stronger with Franklin-Myers penned in at one outside spot. He’s not a Sheldon Rankins replacement, and I don’t believe the Jets see him that way (whether or not they decide to re-sign Rankins).

The Jets were not wrong to sign JFM to a big deal. He’s a perpetually underrated contributor to their team whose absence is felt but not understood.

This was one big win by Joe Douglas from the waiver wire that continues to pay dividends.

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