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In the 2022 draft class of the New York Jets, a few names have drawn substantial attention and applause. Sauce Gardner, Garrett Wilson, and Breece Hall have been the talk of the town, and rightly so. But amidst the loud cheers for these players, the name Jermaine Johnson has been somewhat overlooked. A third first-round selection for the Jets, Johnson has been gradually pulling his weight and catching up to his peers.
Johnson’s First Year as a Jet
Johnson’s journey began modestly in 2022, where he served as a reliable component in the Jets’ defense. Despite only playing 34% of the defensive snaps across his 14 appearances, Jermaine Johnson made his presence felt. His agility and tactical finesse on the edge, particularly as a run defender, made him an invaluable asset for the Jets.
Although overshadowed by his peers who made a strong case for themselves as some of the best in the game, Johnson held his ground. His contributions to the Jets’ elite defense were significant, even if they didn’t always steal the headlines.
The Leap in 2023
The year 2023 marked a turning point for Jermaine Johnson. Following an impressive offseason, he drew praise from both his teammates and coaches. Recognizing his potential, the Jets’ coaching staff entrusted Johnson with a larger role, and he didn’t disappoint.
His snap percentage surged to 65%, making him the leading edge defender for the Jets and the second-highest among all defensive linemen, second only to Quinnen Williams.
Jermaine Johnson’s Evolution as a Player
As Johnson’s role grew, so did the expectations. To truly rise to the occasion, Jermaine Johnson had to augment his skills as a pass rusher. His run defense was never in question. In fact, in 2022, he ranked at the 95th percentile among qualified edge rushers, thanks to his 9.8% run-stop rate.
Yet, his pass-rushing skills needed polishing. Ranking at the 42nd percentile among 125 qualified edge rushers, Johnson was determined to improve. The beginning of his second season was challenging, with Johnson struggling in the first four games.
However, the tides turned in the Jets’ Week 5 game against Denver. Since then, Johnson has been an unstoppable force, showing signs of significant improvement and even star-level production.
Jermaine Johnson’s Performance Highlights
Johnson’s recent games have been nothing short of spectacular. He has registered more pressures in each game than his previous career-high. His performance against Denver, Philadelphia, and the Giants has been commendable, with a total of 14 pressures over his past three games. This equals his total pressures for the entire 2022 season.
Since Week 5, Johnson has maintained an impressive pressure rate of 17.5%, ranking him sixth among edge rushers. His recent successes include three sacks over the past three games, bringing his count to four for the year.
Jermaine Johnson’s Impact on the Jets Defense
Johnson’s evolution as a player has a direct impact on the Jets’ defense. His consistent performances significantly enhance the Jets’ pass rush. The correlation between the Jets’ pass rush efficiency and Johnson’s performance is evident. When Jermaine Johnson plays at his best, the Jets’ pass rush is arguably the best in the NFL.
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, since Johnson’s breakout in Week 5, the Jets have the NFL’s highest pressure rate at 47.8%.
Jermaine Johnson’s Future Prospects
While Johnson’s recent performances are promising, consistency is the key to his continued success. To truly establish himself as an improved player, Jermaine Johnson needs to maintain his strong performances throughout the season. If Johnson can continue to be a pass rusher in the 60th-70th percentile, it would significantly benefit the Jets’ defense.
However, Johnson’s recent games indicate that he can be more than just an “above average” player. His performance over the last three games suggests he has the potential to be a star player. But for now, the goal for Johnson is to continue being a reliable, above-average pass rusher for the rest of the season.
Jermaine Johnson’s development into an emerging star is thrilling news for Jets fans. His recent performances have showcased his potential, and if he can tap into this on a consistent basis, the Jets’ defense will undoubtedly benefit. Furthermore, his evolution would be the icing on the cake, making the 2022 Jets draft class one of the best ever.
Jermaine Johnson is gradually carving his name in the New York Jets’ roster, and based on his recent performances, he is set to become the next young star on a team already brimming with talent.