New York Jets

Why Muhammad Wilkerson Will Represent the New York Jets in the 2014 Pro Bowl

Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (center) pressures Lions Quarterback Shaun Hill (right) during the team's preseason opener on August 9.
Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (center) pressures Lions Quarterback Shaun Hill (right) during the team's preseason opener on August 9.Leon Halip/Getty Images
Zach GewelbCorrespondent IIAugust 13, 2013

After a breakout season last year, defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson is ready to take the next step and become the leader of the New York Jets defense during the 2013-14 season.

New York Daily News reporter Manish Mehta even went as far as guaranteeing a Pro Bowl appearance for Wilkerson, via Twitter:

Wilkerson, 23, was one of the few bright spots for the Jets last season, finishing second on the team in sacks (5.5) and forced fumbles (4) and fourth in total tackles (69). His play was a huge reason why the Jets finished eighth in total defense last year.

While his numbers did not scream “Pro Bowl,” his impact was felt more in the trenches. Wilkerson repeatedly took on double teams to free up other Jets pass-rushers, such as Quinton Coples and Calvin Pace. 

This season, Wilkerson has taken on more of a leadership role, according to Jets defensive line coach Karl Dunbar. Dunbar told George Willis of the New York Post that Wilkerson has played more like a veteran than just a third year player.

He now has the savvy of a veteran and it’s only his third year. He was thrown in the fire his first year, and last year you could see the lights come on. He did a lot of good things for us and we’re looking for that to springboard into this year.

Wilkerson will lead the defensive line, which should be the focal point of the Jets defense. Head coach Rex Ryan has always relied on strong play from his defensive line to free up space for other players in his exotic pass rush packages.

If Wilkerson can reach his Pro Bowl potential, the Jets defense may be able to return to the glory days of 2009 and 2010, when the Jets finished first and third, respectively, in total defense.



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