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Redskins @ Jets Week 6 Player Spotlight: Sheldon Richardson

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The Jets are getting a high-impact player back off of suspension just in time to face the Redskins.

Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Sheldon Richardson

Defensive Lineman

Age: 24

Height: 6'3"

Weight: 294 lbs.

College: Missouri

NFL Draft: 2013 - Round: 1 - Pick: 13

Form

You have to assume there'll be a little rust for Richardson after not having played a snap yet this season due to being suspended for the first four games of the year (the Jets had their bye last week, so they've only played four games thus far).  At the same time, you know he's fresh.  Sheldon was suspended for violating the league's substance abuse policy (marijuana).  So it's not like he missed time due to injury and has just recovered.  He's been healthy... working out and just waiting.  In fact, the whole Jets team should be pretty fresh for this one due to them having their bye week last week.

Something that I never talk about enough in this "Form" section of these posts is a player's mental "form.'  Though he hasn't been playing, I expect that Sheldon will be very mentally sharp on Sunday.  Since learning he was going to miss four games back in July, Richardson has known his first game back would be against the Redskins.  If he's a smart pro, Richardson has probably been studying the 'Skins and mentally preparing for what they might throw at him upon his return.  Just two days ago when asked about his return to the game, Richardson said, "I'm coming.  I'm coming to eat, too."  "I feel like I can force the issue a little bit," he said with a grin... He said his return means "no breaks for QBs," and he will "dominate on the football field."

Jets HC Todd Bowles has already admitted that Richardson needs to get back in "game shape," so we'll all be curious to see exactly how much he plays Sunday and how effective he can be while he's out there.  He seems like an ideal candidate to be worn down as the game goes on by our running game and excellent ToP.  Richardson will be splitting time with rookie Leonard Williams.  Williams has been solid thus far in his young career (four games) and had arguably his best game yet just before the bye against the Dolphins in London.  The Jets shouldn't feel any pressure to force Richardson to play beyond what he can currently handle thanks to having another capable, outstanding player at the position.  Both players will probably be helped by competing with one another.

I should also mention that even in Richardson's absence this year, the Jets own the #2 ranked defense in the NFL (#1 in points allowed) right now.  Not only is that impressive by itself, but adding a Pro Bowl-caliber DL to what's already such an impressive defense is downright scary.

Skills

He's got light feet for his size and is uniquely able to twist and turn inside and chase plays all the way to the sideline with his remarkable speed.  He's agile and long.  He has an incredible first step and he gets into the backfield in the blink of an eye.  Plays with a tenacious attitude.  He doesn't have the best balance, however.  Richardson's strength is definitely as a pass rusher pursuing the QB.  He struggles a bit anchoring against the run.  He also misses on lunging tackles too much.

Potential Against the Redskins

The Redskins OL is better than most anyone expected this season and it's a good thing... especially this week.  I think there's a real chance that this could be a trap game for the Jets as they face the Patriots next week and probably spent a portion of their bye week preparing for that game.

His potential against the 'Skins is that of other excellent interior pass rushers they've faced this season (Suh, Donald...).  He'll be spending most of the afternoon working against Gs Brandon Scherff and Spencer Long.  Both will have to hold up in pass protection against Richardson to give Cousins time to pass.  Richardson's potential is negated a bit by the fact that Kirk gets rid of the ball so fast that Richardson's pass rush may be rendered useless.

Where Richardson can be sneaky good is chasing guys down from the weak side.  Scherff/Long will really have to hold their blocks on runs away from Richardson, because if he's able to win against those guys, he has the speed to chase ball carriers and bring them down from behind.

Another way to limit Richardson's potential in this match-up is by running right at him.  Our OL is pretty massive and Richardson lacks ideal strength in the run game.  You'd take away his primary threat as a pass rusher and really play to the strengths of our offense.  I expect a lot of running this week.

Interesting Facts

Sheldon's mom's name is Zelda.  Check out these one-year stats from Sheldon in HS: 88 tackles, 19 sacks, 7 FRs, 5 FFs, 1 INT, 6 defensive TDs, 27 receptions, 541 receiving yards, and 8 offensive TDs (as a TE).  He also played baseball and basketball and ran track.  Coming out of HS, Sheldon was considered the #1 DT in the nation and #4 player overall.  In addition to being suspended for marijuana use, Sheldon was arrested two weeks after receiving his suspension notice and charged with resisting arrest and traffic violations.  He was reportedly street racing at over 143 mph before trying to evade the cops.  Two other men and a 12-year-old child were in the car with him (which reportedly smelled of marijuana).  Additionally, a loaded handgun was found beneath the driver's seat.  Sheldon received no charges relating to the loaded handgun as he was legally allowed to have it.  Sheldon was the NFL's Defensive RoY in 2013.  Check out Sheldon's Twitter account @Godforshort.