Yesterday we looked at the New York Jets players on offense who disappointed. Today we will focus on the defense and special teams. Unfortunately these two lists combine to be much longer than the players who exceeded expectations in 2011.
Bart Scott – Over his first two years with the team, Scott was praised for his ability to do the dirty work alongside David Harris at inside linebacker. He was a reliable tackler, was comfortable in Rex Ryan’s system, and a supposed leader on the team. This past season he struggled so much he was reduced to being a situational player, leading to reported dissatisfaction in the locker room from him. The Jets owe Scott about 4 million dollars in guaranteed money next year but it is still being reported that he will likely be cut.
Calvin Pace – For the amount the Jets paid Pace before the 2008 season, they aren’t getting a quality return on their investment. Pace is a pretty good three down linebacker in the Jets 3-4 system but can’t consistently get pressure on the quarterback and fails to make an impact in too many games. The Jets lack speed at linebacker and Pace is a big part of that.
Eric Smith – I think most of us did a double take when the Jets gave Smith a seemingly big contract to return as their starting safety this past year before they brought back Brodney Pool. He had always struggled in pass coverage and often look over stretched in a full time role. 2011 emphatically proved that Smith is not a capable NFL starter. Apparently, the Jets have an out on his contract and it is hard to see him back in a starting role or in any role at all next year with the team.
Jim Leonhard – It was disappointing to see Leonhard suffer a season ending injury for the second year in a row. Prior to that, he was average at best. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Jets brought him back on a veteran’s minimum deal to play alongside the new safety or two they bring in via the draft and free agency this year.
Antonio Cromartie – When you think about Cromartie’s 2011 season, what do you remember? I remember two muffed kicks, Miles Austin ripping the ball out of his hands for a touchdown, and Brad Smith beating him for a ridiculous touchdown catch. Outside of a big game against Jacksonville in week 2, when else did be bring the big play element to the Jets defense that he was supposed to? He settled down in coverage towards the end of the year but on the whole it wasn’t a very good season for #31.
Nick Folk – It was just an okay year for Folk who took a small step back this year and missed key short kicks against New England and the Giants.