When people think about some of the best defensive linemen in football, there’s a lot of names that get thrown around.
But one guy that does not get nearly the attention he deserves is New York Jets defensive end/tackle Mike DeVito.
It seems odd that a team that gets as much attention as the Jets would have an elite player that goes virtually unnoticed, but DeVito is one of those blue-collar guys who excels at his job and goes under the radar somehow.
One of the reasons DeVito (#70, above) is so underrated is because he’s not much of a pass rusher and does not put up the flashy sack numbers like others do.
Instead DeVito excels at shutting down the opposing running game, and for the past two years he’s been better at it than any 3-4 end in the NFL.
In Pro Football Focus’s “Three to Focus On” preview for this week’s game, they talk about how important is for the Jets to stop the San Diego Chargers’ running game, led by second-year back Ryan Mathews.
What the Jets will need is an improved effort and performance by run defense as a whole, but particularly Muhammad Wilkerson (-1.6 run defense) and David Harris (-2.7 run defense) as they have been the weak links given that Sione Pouha (+3.3 run defense) and Mike DeVito (+5.3 run defense) have been doing their parts on defense.
Unfortunately for the Jets, they were dealt a huge blow in practice this week, as Mike DeVito banged up his knee and will be unable to give it a go today.
Without their best run stuffer, the Jets will start both of their rookies on the defensive line, as Kenrick Ellis makes his first career start alongside fellow rook Muhammad Wilkerson.
Wilkerson, Ellis and Sione Pouha will start, with Ropati Pitoitua, Marcus Dixon and Martin Tevaseu in the mix in the defensive line rotation.
The Jets will certainly have their hands full with a strong Chargers team that is off to their best start in years, coming off their bye with a 4-1 record.
There’s no doubt in my mind that a Jets run defense that was already pretty shaky will struggle without Mike DeVito. But there’s no excuses. The “next man up” must step it up. Otherwise the Jets will be in serious trouble.