While Leonard Williams and Quinnen Williams are grabbing the headlines going into the regular season opener vs. the visiting Buffalo Bills, it's important to remember that second-year New York Jet Henry Anderson remains a key factor on the defensive line.
The 6-foot-6 Anderson began his career as a third-round pick of the Indianapolis Colts back in 2015. His rookie year he hit the ground running, amassing 31 tackles, four QB hits and one sack in nine games.
His next two seasons weren't as impressive, however his career took a turn for the better once he arrived in New York. In April of 2018, the Jets acquired Anderson from the Colts for a sixth-round pick in that year's draft.
Last season with the Jets, Anderson had the best year of his career. He played all 16 games for the first time in his career and made his presence known each week.
He had career highs in multiple categories including pass deflections (4.0), sacks (7.0), tackles (35), tackles for loss (7) and QB hits (16). In fact, Anderson had more sacks last season than for his entire career.
Aside from injuries, the Colts traded away the former Stanford Cardinal because he didn't fit in their 4-3 scheme. This is part of the reason why Anderson thrived last season in New York's 3-4 scheme.
With the arrival of Gregg Williams as the new defensive coordinator, the thought was that the Jets would be going back to a 4-3 scheme. It took people aback however when Adam Gase and Williams proclaimed the defense was sticking in a 3-4 scheme.
The Jets won’t line up like that on every snap though. Williams has made it clear that the Jets will have a plethora of different packages on defense this year. The deficiencies in the secondary means the Jets will need a lot of different looks up front to take the pressure off of the corners and safeties.
This is where Anderson can really stand out. At 6-foot-6 and a shade over 300 pounds, Anderson is versatile enough play anywhere on the line. Remember he came into the league as a defensive tackle. Anderson can play in a traditional 3-4/4-3 look but can also be used in 3-3-5 nickel package as well.
A part of the reason Anderson was able to perform the way he did last season was because of the attention directed at teammate Leonard Williams. This led to people questioning Williams' play but it's hard to be successful when you're getting double-teamed every snap. That's where Anderson slid in and took advantage of the situation.
Although he wasn't much of a factor in the stat book this preseason and he'll begin the season as a backup, Quinnen Williams showed why he was so highly touted coming out of Alabama. In the preseason, he ate up blocks and blew through offensive lineman which opened the door for other Jets players to slip through the line and make plays in the backfield.
Anderson will be chomping at the bit knowing he’ll almost always get one-on-one matchups. And if the offensive sends a double team at him, that’ll just open the door for others.
With a motivated Leonard Williams, a stud rookie in Quinnen Williams, a beast at linebacker in C.J. Mosley, and a safety that likes to play up near the line of scrimmage in Jamal Adams, opposing offensive lines will have their hands full.
There will be a lot to game plan for which should open up the door for Anderson to have another good year. One of the biggest problems with the Jets' defense was their anemic pass rush which led to their secondary getting torn to shreds.
With a combination of new personnel and Gregg Williams' new schemes, you should see a big improvement on the defensive line. Leonard Williams and Anderson have the potential to be a formidable duo on the ends.