Jeff Ulbrich expects Carl Lawson to be a dominant pass rusher for the Jets this season.
Lawson is one of the few players not attending the Jets’ voluntary OTAs after signing a three-year, $45 million deal with the team in March. While not present at OTAs, Lawson has been sending workout videos to Jets defensive line coach Aaron Whitecotton every day.
Lawson only recorded 5.5 sacks with the Bengals last season. However, Ulbrich believes Lawson will increase that total in 2021 because the Jets have multiple guys who can eat up space.
“A lot of times, edge rushers miss because QBs can step up in the pocket,” Ulbrich said, per ESPN’s Rich Cimini. “We have so many interior guys, I don’t know how much of a pocket there will be to step up into.”
Lawson’s sack total from 2020 didn’t truly represent his ability to get after the quarterback. He recorded 32 quarterback hits, which was the most among all defensive linemen last season. Lawson’s 44 quarterback pressures were tied for the third-most in the league in 2020.
The Jets’ defensive line is arguably the team’s best unit. Along with signing Lawson, the Jets also brought in Sheldon Rankins and Vinny Curry during free agency. Both players have a history of being able to sack the quarterback.
Those three players are joining Quinnen Williams, who had a career-high seven sacks last season. The Jets also have Folorunso Fatukasi, John Franklin-Myers and Bryce Huff. All showed flashes of pass-rushing ability last season.
Having all of these pass rushers should open the door for Lawson to navigate his way to the quarterback. It will be up to him to finish the play — before one of his teammates beats him to it.