TOJ – New York Jets Mid-Season Secondary Grades

Mike O’Connor grades out the New York Jets secondary over the first half of the season

If you hadn’t watched the New York Jets all season, you would likely not be surprised that the secondary has played poorly as a whole if you saw their 1-7 mid-season record.  Injuries to Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle set them back from the start, and serious regression from Antonio Allen and Dawan Landry has certainly not helped. The play of Darrin Walls and newcomer Philip Adams have saved the secondary from being as much of a wasteland as last season, but it still hasn’t been pretty.  Here is where everybody stands at mid-season

Note – I won’t be grading Milliner due to his injuries 

Dawan Landry
Grades: Week 1 (B+),  Week 2 (C+), Week 3 (C), Week 4 (C+), Week 5 (F), Week 6 (B-), Week 7 (C), Week 8 (B-).

Landry is supposed to be a leader in this secondary, and that’s pretty much a joke at this point.  He’s known for being average but at 31, he’s athletically and mentally a very subpar starter.  He’ll live out the season, but this is the last year of his contract and there’s no imaginable way he’ll be retained.  He’s far too poor a tackler to still be useful on even just special teams, and I can’t think of a sub package on defense where his basic skillset would ever be particularly useful.  It’s a good thing for Landry the season is already a wash, because he’s consistently the one targeted when the cornerbacks are holding up.
Mid-Season Grade: C

Calvin Pryor
Grades: Week 1 (A-),  Week 2 (D-), Week 3 (B-), Week 5 (F), Week 6 (C+), Week 7 (A), Week 8 (C+).

It’s been a season of peak highs and plummeting lows for the rookie, but it’s not like this type of season wasn’t at least predictable for such a raw prospect coming out. When you balance it out, I’d say his play has just about equaled Landry’s on the season, because his highs are incredibly valuable to the team whereas the veteran has none. Pryor has flashed learning in zone coverage responsibilities and has shown what he can do when around the run game in just about every game. Him versus the Patriots was probably the best game for a member of the Jets’ secondary so far this season.
Mid-Season Grade: C

Antonio Allen
Grades: Week 1 (A-),  Week 2 (D+), Week 3 (C-), Week 4 (B-), Week 5 (F), Week 6 (C), Week 7 (F), Week 8 (F).

If it was somehow known before this season that Allen would be the worst player within the Jets’ secondary by mid-season, even considering position changes, there would be a confused outrage. In 2013, Allen was Rex Ryan’s gadget to complete the puzzle versus talented offenses, and he consistently made plays. This year, he’s been burned the most out of any defensive back on the roster, whether playing safety or corner. He’s been directly responsible for 7 (SEVEN!!!) touchdowns in man coverage since Week 5. Seven touchdowns. He hasn’t been finishing plays and isn’t playing with the same instincts and fluidity that made him one of the Jets’ most valuable players on the defensive side of the ball last year. It’s plausible to think he’ll be able to turn it around whenever he gets back to just playing safety variations, but it might take awhile and it’s unlikely we’ll ever see a season like his 2013 one.
Mid-Season Grade: F

Jaiqauwn Jarrett
Grades: Week 4 (A-), Week 8 (B-).

Jarrett has spelled Pryor when the rookie has hit the bottom of the cellar in his worst games or when he was injured. He hasn’t been tested much directly, but he really is a solid backup.
Mid-Season Grade: B

Darrin Walls
Grades: Week 1 (B+),  Week 2 (C), Week 3 (A-), Week 4 (B-), Week 6 (B-), Week 7 (A-), Week 8 (C).

Walls is having some unfortunate dead-average games, but they’ve come against Jordy Nelson and Sammy Watkins – two receivers he shouldn’t have been expected to man up against and consistently beat. Outside of those two games and his early exit versus San Diego due to injury, you can count on pretty stellar performances from the former undrafted free agent. He’ll allow a few first downs a game simply because he’s playing too off in off-man, fearing the deep pass, but he makes up for it with his incredible burst to the football and usually solid tackling. The Jets have created a very capable starting corner from a guy that Rex Ryan didn’t realize was good until he was forced into a starting role.
Mid-Season Grade: B

Philip Adams
Grades: Week 5 (B-), Week 6 (B-), Week 7 (B-)

Adams has been an underrated performer since he really doesn’t allow consistent production, and he definitely has avoided the big play that the Jets’ defense has been far too often the victim of. The Jets picked Adams up off the waiver wire, and now he’s a respectable spot-starter. Not bad for a mid-season desperation signing.
Mid-Season Grade: B-

Kyle Wilson
Grades: Week 1 (A-),  Week 2 (C), Week 3 (B), Week 4 (C+), Week 5 (D), Week 6 (D+), Week 7 (B-), Week 8 (C+).

Wilson gets a lot of hate, and I’m probably glared at as one of the leaders in that party. He’s not a good football player, but he isn’t getting false credit for a good season that he was last year, at least. He also is getting saved a lot by how awful the Jets’ underneath coverage has been, or anything over the middle, for that matter. He’s still killing the Jets with a couple really bad plays every once in awhile, but let’s all admit it could be much worse if quarterback’s realized that he can’t defend the pass once it’s thrown at him, no matter what kind of coverage he has.
Mid-Season Grade: C+

The season is in shambles heading into Week 9, and injuries keep piling up.  Adams will likely be able to return soon, meaning Allen doesn’t have to play any more corner. Still, Allen is being abused no matter where he plays. It will be interesting to see where Rex Ryan makes adjustments, or if he makes any, for that matter.  o be totally honest, the only thing to really look forward to is how Pryor continues to develop as he gets the chance to play versus much worse overall offenses down the stretch of this season. We already know Walls is good, so there’s no need to preach about him anymore. This unit might have a totally different look come 2015 with Landry and Wilson likely gone, and another starting corner probably in the mix if they presumably don’t trust Milliner to ever be totally free of injuries.