Chris Gross is back with his weekly Fact or False, this week focusing on the New York Jets secondary. Make sure to give Chris a follow on Twitter -
The New York Jets have one of the most intriguing defensive secondaries in the NFL. While they have, arguably, the greatest trio of cornerbacks in the league in (All-World) Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie, and Kyle Wilson, they have not been very strong at the safety position as of late. However, the Jets addressed this issue the best way they possibly could this offseason, by adding 4 newcomers. The two free agents, LaRon Landry and Yeremiah Bell, along with the two rookies, Josh Bush and Antonio Allen, have the chance to revitalize this position for New York, and officially give the Jets the best secondary in the league. Will these additions, along with the players already on the roster, combine to make such a secondary? Find out all you need to know in this week’s edition of New York Jets Fact Or False.
Kyle Wilson will emerge as a starter this season. False. Although I fully expect Wilson to improve greatly this season, as we witnessed a fairly decent leap in play from his rookie to sophomore season, he is still not ready to take over as a full time starter. Last season, Wilson ranked 59th among active cornerbacks in the NFL in completion percentage when targeted, as opposing quarterbacks completed 66.7% of their passes when throwing at the former first round pick out of Boise State. While this number is certainly a bit inflated due to the fact that Wilson is picked on as the nickel corner in the same secondary as Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, this number will need to decrease if Wilson is going to become a starter on this defense. Players are not selected in the first round to serve as situational/back up players, so look for the Jets to attempt to increase Wilson’s role in the defense, but only if he proves capable.
There is not one Wide Receiver in the AFC East that will escape Revis Island this season. Fact. We’ve previously gone over why Chad Ochocinco is no threat to Revis, but the obvious argument here is Buffalo Wide Receiver Stevie Johnson. Many feel that Johnson “owns” Revis due to the fact that over two games last season, Johnson caught 11 balls for 159 yards and a touchdown. While these numbers certainly are not Revis-like, let’s not put Johnson in that life boat just yet. Although he did beat Revis on a 52 yard catch down the sideline during their week 9 match up in Buffalo, the sole touchdown that Johnson has on Revis in his career was a clear case of miscommunication within the defense.
Prior to the 5 yard touchdown Johnson snagged off of a slant route, Revis was lined up in what appeared to be man coverage, as displayed by the rather tight alignment to the line of scrimmage. Just before the snap, though, an obvious check in the coverage was made as Revis bailed out just as the play began. Johnson hit the slant, which should have been covered by Calvin Pace, who was running around like a chicken with his head cut off, as he clearly missed the check. So, while Johnson did have his 5 seconds of fame against Revis, he by no means “beat” the All-Pro corner. This is not to say that Johnson is incapable of such a feat, but let’s see him gain some consistency against 24 before declaring him the victor in any such matchup.
The Jets will add another Cornerback before the season. Fact. While the Jets have arguably the greatest trio of corners in the NFL in Revis, Cromartie, and Wilson, there is not too much experience on the depth chart behind them. The five other cornerbacks currently on the Jets roster have played in a combined 31 NFL games. While Ellis Lankster and Isaiah Trufant have contributed on Special Teams in the past, it would not be wise for the Jets to enter the season with this amount of inexperience at the position, particularly if none of them stand out in training camp. One name that has been discussed greatly among Jets Nation is former Jet Drew Coleman. A free agent, Coleman is coming off of a career year in Jacksonville last season with 46 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, and 9 passes defended. Coleman is also familiar with Rex Ryan’s scheme having played in it in 2009 and 2010. This would be a great fit for both sides if the Jets decide to add depth heading into the season.
Antonio Cromartie is unfairly criticized based on performance. Fact. While Cromartie’s tackling has certainly never been the strength of his game, his coverage numbers have been very good for a number 2 corner. Cromartie is typically criticized for poor play, however in his two seasons with the Jets, he has 7 interceptions with 29 passes defended. While he certainly gives up his share of catches, and misses more tackles than anyone would enjoy seeing, Cromartie has arguably the toughest job in football: playing opposite Darrelle Revis. It is nearly impossible for anyone who is targeted as much as Cromartie, due to the presence of his counterpart, to maintain a perfect resume. Therefore it should not come as a surprise to anyone to see him give up a few catches. Yes, the best ones prove to consistently shut down anyone that lines up against them, but how many corners are there like that in the league? About one, and he plays in the same secondary as Cromartie.
The Jets collectively have the biggest group of meat heads at the Safety position in the NFL. Fact. Although their coverage skills are going to be tested to their greatest extent this season, is there truly a bigger group of meat heads at this position than LaRon Landry (6’0″ 220 lbs), Yeremiah Bell (6’0″ 205 lbs), and Eric Smith (6’1″ 207 lbs)? While their play on the field is critical to the success of the Jets defense this year, there is no debating the fact that these guys get after it in the weight room. Besides the countless bone crunching hits we’ve seen from them in the past, this picture should put any argument on this issue to rest.
Bonus – Having no captains will hurt the Jets this season. False. The no captains policy that took effect at the conclusion of last season following the Miami meltdown has been blown out of proportion ever since Rex Ryan uttered those words at his year end press conference. Guard Matt Slauson summed it up perfectly when he said that not naming captains has forced players to step into leadership roles. Leadership ability is something that players either have or don’t have, it is not a quality that can be attained or taught. Appointing captains can sometimes hurt a team because it could place the wrong people in leadership roles that they are unfit for, while excluding players who are natural leaders from such a position (Brandon Moore anyone?). While captains have been important to sports, the title does not automatically make a player a leader. The focus on this issue is certainly being sensationalized. Regardless of whether or not players have the “C” on their jerseys, those who are leaders are going to lead, it is encrypted in their DNA. Expect to see players like Moore, Nick Mangold, Darrelle Revis, Mark Sanchez, and David Harris step into those leadership roles this season, on and off the field, without being officially declared as captains.