Since 2000, the Jets have had a number of defensive units that have far outshined their offensive counterparts. Future Hall of Famers, Pro-Bowlers, and franchise players, New York has had it all since the turn of the century. In contrast to the Best Offensive Players article that was written last year, and in hopes to forget the year that has passed, we will now take a look at a team assembled from the best defensive players since the beginning of the Johnson era.
Note: This list is in no particular order. It simply names who were the best players at their respective positions.
Jamal Adams (2017- Present)
Career Stats: 197 Combined Tackles – 5.5 Sacks – 18 Passes Defended – 4 Forced Fumbles – 1 Interception
Starting off the list is a player who has made a big impact on the fans of New York in only two short years. Acting as both a leader on the field, as well as a recruiter during free agency, Jamal Adams is going to help anchor the middle of the field for years to come. A young player on this list who has only finished his sophomore season, Adams was named to his first Pro-bowl, and already looks like he will become one of the best players that the Jets have had in a long time.
Kerry Rhodes (2005 – 2009)
Career Stats: 402 Combined Tackles 13 Sacks – 75 Passes Defended- 8 Forced Fumbles – 23 Interceptions
A fourth round pick in 2005, Kerry Rhodes was one of the only stable safeties that the Jets had prior to Jamal Adams. While not having a stellar career, Rhodes remained reliable through his final season with New York, before Rex Ryan traded him away due to his “Hollywood” attitude.
David Harris (2007-2016)
Career Stats: 1,109 Combined Tackles – 36.5 Sacks – 32 Passes Defended – 6 Interceptions
Now come the more nostalgic picks on this list. David Harris could be remembered for many things, but perhaps most notably, for intercepting Tom Brady on the opening drive in the 2010 AFC Divisional Round game. Harris’s 1,109 combined tackles have him ranked fourth among franchise leaders. Following David Harris’s retirement earlier this offseason, he ended a career that Jets fans will not soon forget.
Mo Lewis (1991-2003)
Career Stats: 1,231 Combined Tackles – 52.5 Sacks – 14 Interceptions
The man who holds second place in franchise tackles may have his legacy be one of fame or infamy. Mo Lewis was an incredible linebacker, tallying a career that have him listed as one of the best defenders the Jets have ever had. However, one devastating blow on one Drew Bledsoe called up some backup quarterback by the name of Tom Brady. Regardless of what he unleashed onto the league, Lewis enjoyed a successful career with the New York Jets. He earned three Pro-bowl bids and was twice named an All-Pro. It was a shame he never won it all with the team as well.
Marvin Jones (1993-2003)
Career Stats: 1,021 Combined Tackles – 9 Sacks – 5 Interceptions
Mo Lewis’s partner in crime, Marvin Jones, helped the Jets terrorize offensive lines in a deadly tandem that lasted from 1993 to 2003. The former Seminole saw himself become a part of one of the deadliest tandems in the history of New York. Named as an All-Pro in 2000, the first rounder’s tenure came to an end. Teammates like this can only make Jets fans hope that Darron Lee and Avery Williamson can be just as deadly together.
Shaun Ellis (2000-2010)
Career Stats: 513 Combined Tackles – 73.5 Sacks – 12 Forced Fumbles
Shaun Ellis marked the start of a new era for New York. An absolute monster at defensive end, Ellis totaled over 70 sacks for the Jets, cementing the Jets’ pass rush for a good couple of years. Nearly a lifelong Jet, Ellis did get one bid at winning a Superbowl with New England, but fell short thanks to Eli Manning. The two time Pro-Bowler was the second defensive end taken in the 2000 draft, the first of two that the Jets would take in the first round. And speaking of which…
John Abraham (2000-2005)
Career Stats: 533 Combined Tackles – 133.5 Sacks – 46 Forced Fumbles
Abraham and Ellis were taken back to back, and if Ellis was a monster, John Abraham was nothing short of a beast. Abraham’s 133.5 sacks lists him as 12th All Time, leaving him as possibly one of the best pass rushers of all time. Abraham, unlike Ellis, wasn’t a Jet for a majority of his career, but he did make three of his five Pro-Bowls as a member of the Jets. It will be extremely difficult to find a potential Hall of Fame talent like Abraham ever again.
Damon Harrison (2012-2015)
Career Stats: 236 Combined Tackles – 9 Sacks
Damon Harrison wasn’t expected to perform as well as he did. An undrafted free agent out of William Penn, Harrison went on to be anchor of the defensive line during the darker years between 2012 and 2014. He helped lead a talented defense when the Jets went on a surprising 10-6 run in 2015, but Gang Green decided to let him walk that following off season.
Sione Po’uha (2005-2012)
Career Stats: 192 Combined Tackles – 4.5 Sacks
Sion Po’uha may have had a fun name to say, but it never unfortunately became a household one. Drafted in the third round in 2005, Po’uha was a reliable defensive tackle for quite a few years, eating up blocks for the defenses that always played hard for an offense that rarely ever matched their talent.
Darrelle Revis (2007-2013, 2015-2016)
Career Stats: 494 Combined Tackles – 29 Interceptions – 139 Passes Defended
Darrelle Revis is synonymous with the Jets. Those defenses in 2009 and 2010. Revis Island himself. Following a rather emotional retirement prior to the 2017 season, the Island cemented his place in New York forever. Ignore the best cornerback in the league, since 2000, or whatever you wish to say. Darrelle Revis may as well be the best New York Jet to ever lace them up (Sorry, Joe Namath). While his one Superbowl win did come with New England, Revis did sign a one day contract to officially retire a Jet on July 18th, 2018. Revis was always a special player. Watching him lockdown names like Moss and Johnson was truly something to watch. See you in Canton.
Antonio Cromartie (2010-2013, 2015)
Career Stats: 376 Combined Tackles – 31 Interceptions – 116 Passes Defended
The final player on this list comes in the form of the man who helped that 2010 lock down the airspace in East Rutherford. Antonio Cromartie, while more well known for his time on the Chargers, did hold a bit of a special place in the hearts of Jet fans for a solid couple of years. Revis and Cromartie, were they still in their primes today, could completely transform the Jets’ current defense into something spectacular.
New York has suffered through yet another losing season, but perhaps one that acts in the right direction. With Sam Darnold developing well, and ownership announcing the firing of Todd Bowels, the 2019 off season will be extremely important if the team wishes to turn the tides and become competitors. Hopefully, in a few years, there will be a number of new names on this list.