(Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Ima
To me, there's no question who is number one. All anyone needs to do is look at the defense last year. For years, the Jets struggled stopping the run. Kris Jenkins comes in, plays a dominant first half of football, one in which he could easily have been the best defensive player in football. Then in the last five games, he wore down due to a myriad of injuries, and the defense went down with him.
He makes a ton of plays on his own by pushing the center into the backfield or by tackling quarterbacks and runningbacks for losses, but his primary value comes in his mere presence. Opposing teams know how good Jenkins is, and they would be stupid not to double team him. This frees up the rest of the defense to have more space to make plays on their own, and guys like David Harris and Bart Scott will certainly benefit.
The key will be keeping the big guy healthy. He returned to practice yesterday after missing several weeks with a nagging calf injury. Barring an unforeseen setback, he will be ready to go Saturday against the Giants and certainly week one against Houston. Still, the Jets need to give him more time off in games early on to keep him strong late. Sione Pouha struggled last year when plugged in the middle, so former Seahawk Howard Green was brought in to provide depth. He's shown flashes in camp and preseason that he can be Jenkins's backup, but he might not have the stamina to be a full-time starter if Jenkins got hurt for an extended period of time. Then again, a series injury to Jenkins, and the Jets can kiss any playoff plans good bye.