Last week I compared the Jets offense to the Bills offense and broke down each position for both teams. I ultimately decided that the Bills offense was better than Jets offense, on paper. This week I’m going to be comparing the Bills and Jets defense, position by position, and determine who has the better defense. This week’s Thursday Thought: Team Battle Edition: Bills Defense versus the Jets Defense.
For Buffalo, defensive tackle is a very deep position. Starting with 2019 first-round pick Ed Oliver, this unit is filled with versatile and disruptive players. Oliver is a young star, whom many believe will have a breakout season in 2020. Harrison Phillips and Vernon Butler can both play the one-technique and the three-technique defensive tackle. Star Lotulelei is a veteran space-eater that can free up other players to get into the backfield. The Bills’ defensive tackles are deep and talented.
Meanwhile, the Jets’ defensive tackles are more of an unknown. 2019 first-round Quinnen Williams disappointed in his first season with the Jets, but Williams is extremely talented and could have a much better sophomore season. Steve McLendon is a veteran run-stuffer, who is a solid player in the middle of the defensive line. After that it a lot of unknown young players including two rookies in Sterling Johnson and Domenique Davis.
The Jets’ defensive ends are in a similar position as their defensive tackles. Henry Anderson is a solid veteran presence on the defensive who brings a degree of toughness to the unit. Rookie Jabari Zuniga is an exciting young player who has a lot of potential and could be a day two steal for the Jets. Outside of those two players, there isn’t much else other than a lot of young, relatively unknown players. For the Bills, they are loaded with veterans and depth at defensive end. Jerry Hughes is the longest-tenured Bills player and has been reliable for a long time. Trent Murphy is a solid veteran, who is very good at setting the edge. The Bills brought in a productive veteran in Mario Addison, and two high upside players in Quinton Jefferson and second-round pick A.J. Epenesa.
The Bills have two of the most exciting and young linebackers in the NFL in Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano. Both players are extremely athletic and incredibly disruptive for offenses, as they both can penetrate the backfield or cover out in space. A.J. Klein is a veteran player who can be on the field for the base defense and contribute on special teams, and Tyler Matakevich is one of the best special teams players in the NFL.
The Jets have a lot of talent at linebacker starting with C.J. Mosley. The big-ticket free agent in 2019, Mosley’s season was cut short due to injury as he only played in two games this season. He should be a lot better in 2020. Avery Williamson, Neville Hewitt, and free-agent pickup Patrick Onwuasor are all solid veterans that can help contribute. Jordan Jenkins led the team in sacks last year with eight and recently resign with the Jets. Although the Bills have star power at linebacker, the Jets have a lot of depth.
Advantage: No one, push.
The Jets made a lot of changes to their cornerback room. After having one of the worst cornerback units in the NFL, the Jets added two veterans in Pierre Desir and Logan Ryan this offseason. They also resigned solid veteran Brian Poole and still have Nate Hairston, who is a reliable veteran. In the draft, the picked Bryce Hall in the fifth round, who many believe will be a steal down the road for New York.
The Bills have an All-Pro and budding superstar in Tre’Davious White, who was tied for first the NFL last season with six interceptions. Levi Wallace is a young player who shined as a rookie and can be a good cornerback. Josh Norman is an older player who could find some success in a familiar scheme, but he coming off four awful years in Washington. E.J. Gaines is a very good player, when healthy. He’ struggled to stay on the field playing in only two games the past two seasons. Taron Johnson is a very good slot corner for the Bills, as he plays as physical as most linebackers in the NFL. Both teams have a nice array of young and veteran players at cornerback, however, White is one of the best in the league and will only get better over time.
The Bills have one of the best safety tandems in the league in Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer, who have been a huge part of Buffalo’s defense the past three seasons and are a big reason why the Bills don’t give up many big plays. Jaquan Johnson is an exciting young player for Buffalo who can play all over the field and could develop into a good starter. For the Jets, Jamal Adams leads the way, as he is the best player on this team. He’s a physical presence who plays in the box and can play that hybrid linebacker role, many teams covet today. Marcus Maye is a solid young player who is very good at getting in the passing lanes and overall has good ball skills. Rookie Ashtyn Davis is an interesting young prospect, who can play all over the field similar to Johnson.
Advantage: No one, push.
Overall, The Bills and Jets both have some good players on defense that can cause offensive coordinators headaches. However, the Bills depth and talent at defensive line is impressive, on paper, they have one of the best defensive lines in all of football. With a few other budding stars, and previous continuity and success, the Bills defense may be one of the best defenses in the NFL, while the Jets defense is a unit with a lot to prove in 2020.
Overall advantage: Bills
What do you think? Who has the better defense on paper for the 2020 season? Let me know in the comment section below.
Mitch Broder is a contributor for The Buffalo Fanatics. To contact him, email him at email@example.com or on Twitter @mitchell_broder