First a few updates:
1. It is more than a little ridiculous that a player who has never won a ring is announcing his free agency decision during a 1 hour primetime special. Yet, I would be lying if I said I wouldn’t be watching it tomorrow night. I think it is down to the Bulls, Cavs, and the Knicks at this point for LeBron’s destination. For a guy who is so obsessed with his legacy, he wouldn’t be doing it much service by playing second fiddle in Miami to Dwayne Wade. The Bulls give him the best shot to challenge for a title immediately. The Knicks can now offer Amare Stoudermaire to run with him and the potential of acquiring another major free agent next year.
2. I am interested to see how Miami fills out their roster around Wade and Chris Bosh. Right now, they literally have two other players under contract along with their draft picks.
3. It has been very quiet on the contract negotiations front, especially considering how slow NFL news is right now. The pressure has to pick up on the Jets in the next week or two as training camp begins to creep closer and the question of how Darrelle Revis and Nick Mangold will handle their contract situation grows bigger. It wouldn’t be quality premium cable to start Hard Knocks without the Jets best offensive and defensive player.
4. I am still holding out hope that the Jets will sign Marques Douglas to a minimum deal at some point this summer to boost their depth on the defensive line and that they decide to pass on Mark Brunell unless he is coming in as their number three quarterback.
5. Follow Turn On The Jets on Facebook and Twitter (TurnOnTheJets) and check out the new episode of Turn On The Jets TV, where we run through some of the top highlights from last season as we look forward to why the Jets have the potential to be so good in 2010.
Jets Area Of Strength – Secondary
Today we cover another area of strength for the Jets headed into the 2010 season, joining the linebackers and receivers, the Jets secondary should be one of their deepest, most talented position groups this year.
Any talk about the Jets secondary starts with cornerback Darrelle Revis, who is coming off one of the best individual defensive seasons in recent NFL history. There isn’t a better cover guy in the league, period. Revis has the rare ability to completely take a team’s top receiving top target out of the game, while still creating turnovers. The Jets defensive scheme dares teams to take a shot at Revis and when they did in 2009, they failed an overwhelming majority of the time. In the end, the Jets will find a way to appease his contract demands. Mike Tannenbaum can be stubborn in his contract negotiations but he isn’t stupid. Revis has the ability to become one of the greatest players in the organization’s history.
In 2009, the weakest spot of the Jets defense was the corner position opposite Revis. Veteran Lito Sheppard struggled to stay healthy and productive, when he actually was on the field. Dwight Lowery was doing an adequate job filling in Sheppard for a little while, but ultimately lacked the physical skills to match up with starting receivers on a consistent basis. The Jets didn’t hesitate this off-season to fix this weakness.
Former All-Pro cornerback Antonio Cromartie was acquired in a trade from the San Diego Chargers. Cromartie is one of the most physically gifted players in the NFL and had a 10 interception season in 2007, along with creating a reputation for racking up highlight reel plays. He has struggled the past few years. However, the Jets are banking on their aggressive man to man scheme bringing the best out of Cromartie, along with him recovering from a hip injury that nagged him last year. Cromartie is a huge boom or bust player heading into 2010. Hopefully, he won’t replicate the bust performance offered by Lito Sheppard last season.
The Jets added further support to the corner position by drafting Kyle Wilson out of Boise State in the first round of the NFL Draft. Wilson was a player who shot up most draft boards after a strong performance during Senior Week. He was rumored to potentially be a top 15 selection. Fortunately for the Jets, he managed to slip all the way to number 29 for them to snatch up. Rex Ryan instantly handed Wilson the starting nickel job, where he could face some early struggles adjusting to playing in the slot. However, his physical skills are far superior to Dwight Lowery and as the season progresses, Wilson should develop into a integral part of the Jets defense. Ryan will utilize his athleticism as both a cover guy and a blitzer off the edge.
With the acquisitions of Cromartie and Wilson, Dwight Lowery bumps down to the team’s number four corner. In terms of the fourth guy, Lowery has tons of experience and should be used in a selective way as both a corner and safety in certain packages that allow him to take advantage of his ball hawking skills. Marquice Cole and Drew Coleman round out of the cornerback position, as primarily special team players.
At safety, the Jets traded away Kerry Rhodes who has already ticked off his new teammates in Arizona with his desire to vacation over working out in the off-season. Brodney Pool was signed from Cleveland to replace Rhodes. Despite having his season cut short by a head injury in 2009, Pool had a much better statistical season than Rhodes in only 11 games. The coaching staff has been raving about his work ethic this off-season, and that work ethic combined with his athleticism gives Pool the potential to have a big season in the Jets defense.
Jim Leonhard returns as the other starting safety. Most people look over Leonhard when discussing the Jets defense, but he was one of the most consistent players on the team last year and has a complete mastery of the Rex Ryan’s system. He won’t rack up a ton of big plays but he will always be in the right place at the right time and won’t give up big plays either.
The Jets have excellent depth behind Pool and Leonhard. Eric Smith is a versatile player, who has extended starting experience. He will see plenty of action in the multiple packages the Jets use on defense. James Ihedigbo came on towards the end of last year as a quality reserve off the bench and somebody who was effective as a blitzer off the edge. The Jets also added UDFA Donovan Warren from Michigan this off-season, who was talked about as a second round pick before a poor combine showing.
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