The underrated Jets defender the Bills must account for - The Buffalo News

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The underrated Jets defender the Bills must account for

Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams are the headliners on the Jets defense, but there's another front seven player who's enjoying a fine season and flying under the radar.

Steve McLendon, a free-agent signee by New York in 2016, is one of the NFL's premier run defenders at the defensive tackle position.

A season ago, he played 167 run snaps and made 20 "stops" – which are what Pro Football Focus labels as a "win" for the defense based on down and distance. That equated to a run stop percentage of 12.0, the third-highest among 75 qualifying defensive tackles.

On 112 run snaps this season, McClendon has made 15 "stops," which equates to a run-stop percentage of 13.4 percent. That's the fifth-highest percentage of 77 defensive tackles who currently qualify.

He doesn't offer much as a pass-rusher, as the 31-year-old defensive lineman has registered just two quarterback pressures (two hurries) on 95 pass-rushing snaps.

McLendon is a part-time player, and the rare "run-stopping specialist" in today's NFL. He's actually appeared on more run snaps (115) than pass-rushing plays (95) heading into Week Nine.

He received a -0.5 grade as a run-stopper against the Bills in Week One, and recorded two stops. After a -0.8 PFF grade against the run the following week in Oakland, McLendon has had six-straight outings with a positive run-stopping grade.

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On the season, his +7.1 run-stopping grade is the 12th-highest among 74 qualifying defensive tackles.

McLendon is far from a household name. However, he's a quality run defender the Bills have to account for and limit in order to turn in another impressive ground-game performance against the Jets.

Grades and stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus.

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