Whether you have come to grips with it or not, this 2013 New York Jets are essentially starting from scratch at numerous positions due to their depleted talent level heading into the year. As a result, multiple players are going to be given larger roles and opportunities than their current talent and development levels merit. This process will find some key pieces for the Jets in the future, while also weeding out those who aren’t going to stick.
Jaiquawn Jarrett is a former second round pick out of Temple, who was cut during the very beginning of his sophomore campaign for the Philadelphia Eagles. Jarrett had struggled from Day One in Andy Reid’s system and couldn’t win himself a role on the depth chart, leading Reid to admit that the Eagles over-drafted him. Jarrett remained unsigned until the Jets decided to kick the tires and signed him in early April of 2013. Four months later, Jarrett has found himself with a wonderful opportunity to not only rescue his career, but to actually start at safety for the Jets. His path has notable obstacles, like Antonio Allen, for one, but Rex Ryan has taken a noticeable liking to Jarrett, and he’s even getting first team reps in practice to prepare for his start versus the Jaguars this Saturday.
Experience: Third Year
Height/Weight: 6’0, 198
40 Time: 4.62
People knew what they were getting when they looked at Jarrett in the pre-draft process: a physical presence in the secondary who is a consistent tackler, a menacing hitter, but not a guy who’ll excel in coverage. However, even Jarrett’s assumed strengths in his game were doubted and criticized once he hit the professional field. I looked at Jarrett not only to confirm his struggles in coverage, but to see if his game versus the run was all it was talked up to be when he was coming out.
Note: the ballcarrier in most screenshots will be highlighted with a red star.
Here is Jarrett approaching a stretch run play. Unfortunately, there’s no way I could show how fast he is approaching, but I can safely say that Jarrett is bearing down on this play quite fast; definitely a half sprint.
Jarrett has, as you can see, read this run play and positioned himself almost perfectly to occupy the only notable hole for the ballcarrier to run through. However, notice how Jarrett has slowed down to the point where his stance is flat and he’s only trotting towards the gap in which he aims to occupy. uch patience is impressive to see from such an out-of-control hitter. If Jarrett was to over-pursue and guess the running back’s path, the back would change direction and try to push the pile in front of him for limited yards. This is a sneaky play by Jarrett, as he sets himself AND the ballcarrier up perfectly for his inevitable doom.
The running back has entered the hole, as he should, to attempt to get by Jarrett, the only defender directly in his path. However, Jarrett’s sneaky approach leaves the runner surprised and without any serviceable room or time to cutback or brace himself. Jarrett is near completing this impressive play, and he does so properly by bracing his own body for the hit by lowering his stance and already leaning into the hit, as you can see by his foot positioning. All Jarrett has to do now is properly lay the blow that his built frame is very capable of delivering.
This play was so close to being a flawless play by Jarrett. The hit was a devastating one, and it certainly drew cheers from his teammates and fans, but this isn’t a proper hit. Jarrett not only leads with his helmet, but he controls the hit with his helmet. Notice how Jarrett’s arms aren’t even trying to wrap up the ballcarrier. Instead, the whole hit depends on Jarrett’s helmet delivering the contact, which is dangerous and will be called and fined every single time by NFL officials and Roger Goodell. This awkward hit is just a glimpse of how reckless and flawed Jarrett’s assumed great tackling can be.
Here is another glimpse at Jarrett’s reckless hitting, and not necessarily a good kind of “reckless.” Jarrett is quickly closing on UConn running back Jordan Todman, and he’s even properly breaking down his stance to make the tackle.
Todman doesn’t react in time to the quickly-closing Jarrett, and all he has left to do is keep his feet churning and brace for contact. Jarrett is just a millisecond away from bashing Todman, and if he keeps going lower into the hit and his arms keep wrapping up Todman, this could be a very solid hit/tackle.
Yet, it becomes obvious that Jarrett had no intention of properly tackling Todman when you view this screenshot. Even though Jarrett was the lower man going into his tackle with more leverage and momentum, he felt the need to spring up during the hit, while totally ignoring wrapping up with his arms.
A kind of hit like this can seriously injure Jarrett if he isn’t careful do to the awkward delivery. Not to mention, it is not an effective hit. I paused the video to screenshot at this very moment because it is evident above how Todman is still on his feet. Naturally, Jarrett’s momentum knocked Todman down, but a stronger back with a better center of gravity and balance could have powered right through Jarrett’s hit attempt. Lastly, if Todman had time to react and make a quick cut to either direction, Jarrett’s hit attempt would have gone awry since its awkward delivery depends on a perfect lineup (mostly because he doesn’t involve his arms and wrap up in the hit).
Above is another run play in which Buffalo’s quarterback is scrambling with a lot of open space in front of him. Jarrett made a nice read on the play and is the first defender to have a good shot at him and is closing quickly.
Since the quarterback has open space and time to react, unlike the previous two plays shown, he appears to try and make a move on the incoming Jarrett. Notice how Jarrett, once again, is properly breaking down his stance in advance, which is solid.
However, since Jarrett is predictably only interested in delivering a hit, he doesn’t look to wrap up and leads with his helmet, leaving him susceptible to a stiff arm from the quarterback as shown above.
Jarrett gets lucky on this play, however. Once he realizes that his hit attempt won’t fly on the quarterback who was ready for it, he grabs the ballcarrier’s leg before the runner can get his legs churning again. If Jarrett went in for a clean tackle since the runner was ready for him, his success would have been much more probable than needing two chances at tackling him like he did.
The plays I’ve shown already are evidence at how Jarrett ruins his good reads versus the run and preparation to tackle. Even with sloppy and reckless tackling mechanics, however, such solid play before the actual point of the tackle will result in some successful hits. Let’s take a look of a couple…
Penn State’s fullback receives the carry. Jarrett enters the image as a safety playing in the box.
Jarrett once again properly approaches this run play. If he rushes right up to the fight at the line of scrimmage, the back could find a late hole and beat Jarrett, who’s the last line of defense on his side of the field. He trots towards the left side of the line, but precariously.
As the fullback juts through the only hole he has, Jarrett approaches with confidence and speed. It’s impressive how fast he transitioned from “wait-and-see” mode into “hit the ballcarrier” mode. Some safeties are victim to waiting too long after being patient, then having no momentum to effectively tackle a larger back.
Without hesitation, Jarrett launches into the fullback. He does so at the appropriate time; before the runner can accelerate to his top gear of speed coming out of the hole. I would critique Jarrett’s tackling here, but this is really the best hit he could have delivered to a back at that size, regardless of how sloppy the form is.
I really appreciate this play from Jarrett, even in the early stages. He knows what kind of limited athlete he is, and he knows he can’t be active throughout the beginning of a play because his stiffness simply doesn’t allow for quick changes in direction. So, with Jarrett standing back at least five yards from the point of attack, you would think Jarrett is going to be late to help stop this third down conversion if the run play comes towards him. Wrong.
Because of the option play, Jarrett waited until Penn State’s quarterback proved that he won’t pitch the ball. When the quarterback scrambles into the mess at the line looking for an opening, Jarrett springs to action. Like I said earlier, Jarrett was nearly seven yards deep from the action, patiently waiting. His close on the play is beyond impressive considering his below average overall speed.
Jarrett moves faster than anybody on the field to get to the quarterback on this play and prevent a conversion. He mashed the runner right at the yardage needed to move the chains and moves him immediately backwards. Look how much power Jarrett stresses on to his lower body to deliver enough power to knock the quarterback backwards. This tackle may have been sloppy like the others, but it’s impressive how smart Jarrett looks on this play; knowing exactly when he needs to react and exactly how much power he must exert on the ballcarrier to prevent a conversion.
Even with his inconsistent tackling mechanics, it is evident that Jarrett’s efforts get the job done almost always versus the run when he can approach the play from the outskirts of the box or as a single high safety. However, I’ve mentioned that he’s a stiff athlete, and this is also pretty obvious. You’re probably the wondering how Jarrett fairs when he challenged more in space when he needs specific positioning to accomplish his assignment. Well, let’s take a look…
On the first play of the game, Evan Royster is the featured running back for the Nittany Lions and most assume he’ll get the carry. Jarrett is seen in his typical box-safety spot.
The run play develops quickly as Royster gets the carry and finds a gaping hole to run through. Jarrett is caught by surprise at Royster’s momentum and the speed of the play. His positioning is already poor because of how close to the line of scrimmage he is, but the fact that his feet are cemented into the ground only makes matters worse. Royster obviously knows Jarrett is a defender with a fair shot at him, but he trusts his speed to take it around the outside. Jarrett, being a slow-footed athlete with no quick twitch, has already dug himself in a hole on this play.
Jarrett’s positioning and slow reaction to Royster stoned himself on the play, so he has no chance at running on Royster and getting a tackle with momentum. Jarrett’s only hope is to bring Royster down right out of his stance with pure strength. Royster treats this tackle-attempt as a pathetic challenge, and easily stiff arms Jarrett to the ground.
Jarrett’s failure leaves him completely out of the play on the ground, and leaves Royster room to run an extra thirty yards down the field. It was Jarrett’s job of containment on this play, but his awful positioning and overall slow athleticism here left him no chance. One last thing to note would be the other player I circled. That would be current Jet Muhammad Wilkerson chasing the play down as a defensive lineman, whom I’ve circled just to show his hustle.
Above is a similar instance in which Jarrett is cheating heavily towards the line in the early stages of the play. This time, however, it isn’t necessarily a bad decision by him. Temple’s #45 has the backside of this off tackle run locked down, so it’s perfectly fine for Jarrett to cheat up and look to occupy a lane early.
Royster takes the handoff and has two clear lanes: one directly towards Jarrett, who basically guessed on this one, and one busting right through his left guard and left tackle. With no additional safety roaming the middle, it is safe to assume that Jarrett is playing containment here again, and that he has over-pursued the play again. This bad angle leaves him at a total stand-still when he needs to be in the middle, closing off whichever hole Royster chooses as soon as he can.
Sure enough, Royster uses his burst to hit the faster-closing but better hole to take, which is the one away from Jarrett. Just imagine if Temple’s #1 doesn’t make the considerable contact with Royster that he does in this diving tackle attempt. Royster would have been off to the races, with Jarrett not even able to lay a hand on him due to his poor positioning and angle. Luckily, #1 does slow him down enough for Jarrett to catch up and tackle him for about an eight yard gain. Once again, Jarrett was aiming to make the big play at the line of scrimmage when his assignment left him unable to do so.
I found these two instances of bad angles and positioning terrifying enough, but to think that it could happen three times in one game was extremely worrisome. Watch below as Jarrett cheats to hard yet again, as he fails his assignment, which was basically that of a roaming linebackers, miserably in Play #8:
The amount of open green that Jarrett allows is sickening. The result of the play is 25 yards, when Jarrett could have been in a situation to tackle Royster after three yards if he had played the play right.
With Jarrett’s struggles and successes versus the run now explained, it’s time to move on to what I believe will hinder him the most on the Jets: coverage. If Jarrett’s limited athleticism leaves him as such a liability in space versus the run, his pass coverage can only be worse.
Temple hardly asked Jarrett to play a deep safety role or to cover a receiver in man to man coverage, but his struggles in space are evident even in zone coverage or basically any play in which his quickness and instincts are tested in the air.
Here, Temple is seen favoring their secondary, since they’re only running a 3-3 defensive front. Jarrett isn’t too deep yet at the top of the image, but his job as the single deep safety will be clearer in the following images.
Jarrett, sitting in coverage at the top of the image, doesn’t see this throw coming despite it’s obviousness and is slow to react to it even when the throw is made. As you can see, the ball is already thrown and has been in the air for a second and Jarrett’s mind and body aren’t correlated enough at this point to have moved him even a step towards the targeted receiver.
The pass is now nearly at the targeted receiver, and Jarrett is still far back as the deep safety, and he has stumbled over his own footing trying to react to the pass. This is just an issue of synchronization. Jarrett is so out of place in deep coverage, or any coverage for that matter, that it is difficult for him to react to throws and see them before they happen. Since he knows he struggles to flip his hips and change directions, he’s worried and plays this play far too safe, even before he stumbles. Also, their is no argument that Jarrett wasn’t supposed to react to this throw and step up in coverage, because there is no deeper route being run by a receiver anywhere in the field. In fact, the second deepest receiver within his vicinity is circled about ten yards behind the targeted receiver.
Jarrett finally regains his footing and makes his way to the receiver, who looks like he was expecting to take a hit from Jarrett. Luckily for him, Jarrett wasn’t instinctive enough when the throw was made, and he now has lots of room for yards after the catch. Even if Jarrett hadn’t stumbled on this play, he was lagging way behind in his reactions. He’s simply out of place.
Above is just one sequence from a particular play, but I found it telling enough to include. Penn State’s slot receiver on Jarrett’s side of the field is making his way right up to Jarrett, then he makes a definitive cut right in front of him to Jarrett’s left. However, he’s not moving towards Jarrett; he’s moving underneath him. Considering this play is partaking within the red zone and Jarrett’s coverage is literally on the goal line, Jarrett must react right now. A proper cover safety would either be watching the receiver’s hips or feet for the first indication of a cut, or the quarterback’s eyes to flow towards his desired throw. Whichever technique Jarrett’s using, if he’s using one at all, he’s late to react. he receiver made his hard cut half a second ago and Jarrett is still plodding his way backwards, awaiting the receiver’s cut that has already happened.
Jaiquawn Jarrett is a lucky man. Throughout this breakdown, he has been getting little ounces of luck thrown into mistakes he makes to help him out, and he does in this play, too. Jarrett was flat out beat in this play, as evident in the previous image and description. However, the throw by the quarterback happens to be one of the latest throws I’ve ever seen, so Jarrett can catch up to the receiver. Even then, Jarrett barely makes it in time. To give him credit, he makes a very nice play on the ball when he does get there, however, and knocks it incomplete. If the throw was calculated by the quarterback correctly though, Jarrett would have absolutely been toast.
After giving Jarrett’s Temple tape a hard look, I unfortunately can’t find many good things to say about the newcomer. The reasons he failed miserably in Philidelphia are so evident in his college tape that it’s frightening. He missed tackles as an Eagle, missed assignments and got out of position, and was repeatedly whipped in coverage when he was given snaps.
The safety does pack a punch with his hits, but even then, he hits awkwardly to the extent that it’s surprising he hasn’t seriously hurt himself yet. Tackling is an easy concept to grasp, so it worries me that Jarrett reads run plays so well and loves to hit, but he still doesn’t know how to correctly tackle an opposing player. In fact, this exposes an even bigger issue of Jarrett’s for me, and that is his football smarts.
Jarrett was criticized heavily in Philadelphia for not picking up the playbook like others had, and missing on defensive schemes/assignments entirely. To be honest, this doesn’t surprise me in the slightest after watching him on tape. Jarrett was repeatedly burned by the run when he was asked a certain assignment, not just to crack down on the ballcarrier when he saw a chance to. His patience may be impressive some of the time, but I’m left to assume that this is only because it helps him hit. When he needs to be patient to occupy a gap or to make a tackle instead, he predictably falters.
In the end, Jarrett is still nearly a lock to make this Jets team due to the porous depth at safety, and his physicality will still make him intriguing for Rex Ryan. James Ihedigbo was never a well-rounded athlete, but he worked wonders in Rex Ryan’s schemes as a blitzer and on special teams. If Jarrett is limited to a third or fourth safety role in which he can blitz freely without having an assignment, than I believe he can find a role that sticks for him. With such a limited role and football mind, however, it’s hard to imagine an extended career in green and white for the former Temple standout.
Jarrett is an extremely limited player, and to be frank, there are a few safeties on the roster who I’d without a doubt feel more comfortable seeing out there like Antonio Allen, Dawan Landry, Josh Bush, and even Rontez Miles. It would be pleasing to see Jarrett play limited defensive snaps until he proves himself worthy on special teams, where he can be let loose. I urge Rex Ryan not to give into Jarrett’s hitting ability so easily.