The Three is Key for Richardson’s Rookie Season

When the Jets drafted Sheldon Richardson the move initially seemed like a good chance to add a playmaker, but what seemed unclear was what exactly the defense would look like in 2013 between Wilkerson, Coples and the rookie Richardson.  Now with a few practices and some instruction from the coaches, Richardson sounded very definitive on where he’s going to help the Jets in 2013 according to Kristian Dyer in Metro.

In fact, ask Richardson where the Jets ideally want him to play and the answer was clear and concise.

“They want me at the 3 for sure,” Richardson said, referring to lining up inside on a guard as opposed to a tackle.

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He said he’s comfortable playing the 3 technique with the Jets, even if it is a different role than his responsibilities in college. In most 3-4 systems, the player in the middle tends to be a space eater who can stuff the run and occupy at least two blockers. The Jets have recently had success with the likes of Sione Pouha and Kris Jenkins in that role. Both players have significantly more bulk than the 6-foot-3, 294-pound Richardson. In many ways, Richardson looks more like an end.

The Jets might be looking at him another way.

“Right now, they’re just testing me out, seeing where I best play, best fit,” Richardson said. “They had me at the 3 technique. We’ll see, they want me to learn.”

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

The 3-technique lines up with his helmet shaded to the guard’s outside shoulder and they shoot the B-gap on the three’s side of the formation. Smart defensive coordinators employ line shifts, stunts and other wrinkles with the idea to get the 3-technique best shot at the passer, a big reason why players like Geno Atkins, Warren Sapp, John Randle, and Ndamukong Suh can accumulate such high sacks.  

With an addition like Richardson and the removal of Bart Scott, the Jets could use the classic 4-3 Under front much more than they have in the past by way of ‘Scissors Shifts’ a technique that the Jets have shied away from to keep two classic 3-4 ILBs with Harris and Scott.

If Tommy Kelly is a common prototype of the player that Richardson could be with the Jets, then Geno Atkins could be the exemplary one.  While there was some initial concern about Coples and what his role as an “OLB” would be with the Jets, as Bent has written about extensively, playing the rush linebacker role doesn’t necessarily mean he would start playing fulltime with his hand out of the dirt and the front four (of which Coples would still be a part) might be a much more exciting group to get after the pass rusher.

Mike DeVito was a much underrated player with the Jets and his flexibility and versatility to play all over the formation were a key part of the Jets versatility and success against the run.  It’s going to take some time to replicate DeVito’s consistent success, but where DeVito struggled was in assisting the pass rush – he was shuttled off the field often on third downs.  Richardson could quickly fill in DeVito’s old role, but also be a force in disrupting both the run and pass because his freakish athleticism.