‘Underdog’ Bryce Huff enjoying a breakout season with Jets

A hooded sweatshirt hides part of Bryce Huff’s face, fitting for the player who has so frequently flown under the radar throughout his football career.

He is quiet by nature, doling out praise to others around him, from coaches to teammates at every level.

He was asked about his journey, and the patience it has required, waiting for years to get a chance to truly prove himself.

“I’ve always been an underdog,” the Jets’ speedy and quick-twitch on-the-rise edge rusher said rather matter-of-factly. “I’ve always had the mindset of grinding it out and working hard to get on the field.”

Underdog may be putting it lightly.

Huff had to wait until he was a junior in both high school and college to get a real opportunity.

Bryce Huff leads the NFL in pressure rate at 29.9 percent.
Bill Kostroun for the NY Post

He mostly received Sun Belt Conference scholarship offers until Memphis came along late in his senior year of high school, and he flipped his commitment from South Alabama.

Despite producing 16 sacks and 34.5 tackles for a loss his final two seasons at Memphis, Huff went undrafted.

With the Jets, he had to start all over again.

Fortunately, he had experience waiting his turn.

“I’ve had to do that type of thing at every level,” Huff said.

It took time, but Huff is finding his niche in his fourth NFL season.

The 25-year-old Huff will enters the meeting Sunday with the Eagles (5-0) ranked seventh in the NFL in quarterback pressures with 26, according to Pro Football Focus.

Bryce Huff has recoded six quarterback hits through five games for
the Jets in 2023.
Charles Wenzelberg

It’s an impressive list, a group that includes T.J. Watt, Micah Parsons, Chase Young and Nick Bosa.

The 6-foot-3, 240-pound Huff, however, has played 112 snaps, markedly fewer than the others, as more of a pass-rushing specialist.

In fact, Huff leads the entire sport in pressure rate at 29.9 percent.

As his production has increased and he has shown the ability to defend the run better, the Jets have gotten him on the field more.

He played 53 snaps over the last two weeks, a number that is steadily rising.

“It’s cool seeing the guys I’m up there with,” he said, referring to his quarterback pressures. “It’s a great group of edge rushers and guys that have been dominating in the league for a long time. So it feels good to see my name next to theirs, but that’s the standard that I hold myself to.”

Huff added: “When it comes to my speed, I can run by anybody in the league as far as off the snap. I’m confident whether it’s a power move or an inside move or edge move or just running speed, I can beat whoever.”

Bryce Huff helped the Jets defense contain Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes in Week 4.

He has picked the right year to break out.

He is an unrestricted free agent who should command significant money on the open market because of his ability to get to the quarterback.

It’s a skill that gets players paid.

“Bryce has always been a weapon. He hasn’t gotten credit for what he’s done. He’s been one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL three, four years now,” fellow defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers said. “Hopefully, he gets his money.”

Bryce Huff, pictured hitting Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson, has pieced together a breakout season with free agency looming.
USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Huff admitted free agency has crossed his mind, but he’s trying not to think about it too much.

He’s more focused on continuing to help the Jets win games and add to what has already been a stellar season personally.

He always has been confident, believing that when opportunity knocked, he would be there to answer.

It has happened at every level.

“I feel like now I’m starting to hit my stride,” Huff said.

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