TOJ – Secondary Grade Sheet (Week 5)

Mike O’Connor takes on the unenviable task of breaking down the Jets secondary against the San Diego Chargers

Another week, another load of secondary film to watch and cringe. I had faith in this unit before the season, but injuries and a drastic drop-off in safety play has made this, well, not a good time. Last Sunday’s bomb dropped by the Chargers was definitely the most painful one of the season so far, and that’s saying a lot after sitting through the second half versus Green Bay.


Dee Milliner:
Snaps – 72 (97%)

Milliner looked pretty solid versus San Diego for the Dee Milliner we know. I put it like that because for one, it was hard to judge how he would have fared if more passes were thrown into his coverage, which was pretty good. He didn’t see a lot of passes because of how easily Philip Rivers was carving up the middle of the Jets’ defense, specifically the safeties. Secondly, Milliner is a cover corner. Even when he hit his stride late last year, he still didn’t silence the critics of his often weak and tentative tackling and ability to shed blocks. On Sunday, he was definitely in the same area of critique there; he was just as guilty as any other Jet was in missed tackles and allowing Branden Oliver to hit the open field with ease.

Still, Milliner’s return was encouraging.   don’t care if his play at the point of the catch was hardly tested (although he did have two impressive pass deflections deep downfield), he was efficiently covering Keenan Allen and his versatile route tree. Allen is still underrated in this stage of his career despite not lighting it up so far this year, and Dee’s first actual, non-Rex Ryan forced start provided consistent coverage against the former third round pick. It’ll be interesting to see if he can build on this against Peyton and Brady in the next two weeks who are bound to spread the ball around out of pure habit more than Rivers did.
Grade: B

Philip Adams:
Snaps- 52 (70%)

Adams was actually a bright spot among the mostly horrid defensive play all around in California. He wasn’t flawless and got gashed on the outside by nice blocking, but he had a wonderful interception versus Rivers at the goal line and showed ability in his first legit playing time of the season. He was forced in due to Darrin Walls’ early injury and ran with it.  Sure, he let up some completions and missed some tackles, but once again, this is the Philip Adams who has only played four games of notable football for Oakland in the past two seasons. Seeing him lock down Allen over intermediate routes and impress with his body control and hands on his interception was enough of a start. Who would have thought that he’d bring down the one and only Jet interception through five games?
Grade: B-

Kyle Wilson:
Snaps- 32 (43%)

Wilson played the highest percentage of snaps he has so far this season versus the Chargers, if I’m not blanking out on any games. Unfortunately, it was one to forget as he was in with the crowd of Jets’ defenders who was far over-matched. He was beat like a drum out of the slot by Eddie Royal and was definitely at fault for the most missed tackles and poor play versus the run out of the rest of Jet corners. That’s pretty surprising, because the only credit I’ve been giving Wilson so far this season is his stout play along the edge versus opposing backs. It wasn’t technique issues with Wilson like I’ve been picking out by the week, it was more just Rivers beating him to the spot with his receivers. Rivers is the best quarterback in the league statistically at the moment, and tested Wilson downfield when most quarterbacks wouldn’t since Kyle can appear to be in maintainable coverage half the time. However, like I’ve pointed out in the past, all you have to do is test Wilson and you’re likely going to succeed.  his was the case in the air and on the ground.
Grade: D

Darrin Walls:
Snaps- 21 (28%)

Rex Ryan drove my passionate distaste for him as a coach a little further on Sunday when he had Walls come back in the game and test his knee after injuring it in the first quarter. It was a blowout game and Walls should have not come back in the game for any reason, but here we are. I’m not going to give him a grade this week because of the injury occurring so early in the contest, but he was getting beat on the Chargers’ first drive worse than I’ve ever seen, and from the likes of Malcolm Floyd. Floyd used to be a pretty dynamic deep threat, but I haven’t considered him very relevant in two years or so. He beat Walls deep for a long gain and then worked him with a comeback route shortly after. I’m not sure when the knee issue happened exactly, so it’s tough to pick at which plays he’s definitely at fault for. Hopefully, the Jets’ best cover corner can return healthy for next week or at least for the Patriots.


Dawan Landry:
Snaps- 74 (100%)

Writing about Landry has become a broken record so rapidly this year, it’s unbelievable. His play was sturdy at the least throughout last year with a few bad games, but it’s been the latter for literally every week in 2014. His performance against Rivers and company did nothing to change that trend. Landry missed some tackles and was simply weak in bringing ball carriers down all game long. It’s good for the stat sheets to bring a guy down, yes, but it means nothing when half of his victims are dragging him five extra yards in the process. for a safety of his build, he should be tackling far better, even considering his age.

Vertically, Landry has been a disaster for the Jets in coverage. He was challenged frequently again this past Sunday, and it was the same story.  At times the veteran plays like he has the speed, instincts, and athleticism to make plays we all know he can’t, and at times he reels back and plays more relaxed to make up for his obvious disadvantages. This week he was often seen in the second option, though neither of these tendencies have provided much of a happy medium for him. Here’s a screenshot I chose from the game in which Landry simply isn’t up to par with the opposing team’s passing talent.


In the still image above, Landry is caught in the middle as he tries to mediate two coverages he has to aid in his Cover 2 zone. Like I’m finding quite often, though, it’s difficult not to speculate why he’s not reacting like he should be. As you can see, Antonio Gates is covered by Davis Harris over the middle, but very poorly. Behind him, Allen is running a deep post but covered step for step by Milliner. Now Rivers has already thrown this ball and it’s halfway to Gates, who’s going to catch this and gain who knows how many yards after the catch since Landry is then responsible to step up and tackle. For some reason, Landry is still backpedaling in an effort to still shadow Milliner’s coverage deep. This is utterly puzzling.

If Landry’s head was on a swivel, he’d see that Milliner is clearly in the better coverage, and either pass is going to result in a big chunk of yards if completed. If Rivers threw deep to Allen, Landry wouldn’t even have the ability to get there in time to contest that pass. So not only did Landry make the mistake of not thinking ahead and reacting with it, but he’s not even reacting timely enough to even be in subpar position to challenge Gates once he has the ball. I mean I’ll stress it again, that ball is halfway at Gates and Landry is still moving backwards. Luckily, the throw was one of Rivers’ only off target throws of the day and it went incomplete.
Grade: F

Calvin Pryor:
Snaps- 63 (85%)

Man, it was another really frustrating time spent watching the up and down rookie. After that early instinctive tackle in the backfield he had for a loss on Donald Brown, Pryor was undoubtedly the worst player on the field.

His normal customs were in place. Awful angles to the ball and ball carriers were taken, he was reacting wildly in coverage, and was just as shaky as Ol’ Man Landry in his coverage. If it weren’t for a penalty, him and Landry would have both been horrendously at fault for a touchdown allowed right in between them to Ladarius Green in which both of them didn’t anticipate the one route they had to, and it was right in front of them. However, my biggest complaint about Pryor was his effort, which was comparable to that of Quinton Coples’ in his phases through injury last year. Take a look at the screenshot as an example, which might be the most concerning football effort I’ve ever witnessed.


Highlighted in the green box is Pryor, who’s got the best chance to end Oliver’s long prance in open field after breaking a couple tackles. This is a moment in which I truly wish I wasn’t so inept with making GIFs (EDITOR TO THE RESCUE!), because I wish you all could see how little Pryor cared here. Pryor literally trotted his way over to Oliver where he should have hunted him down as soon as he broke into the open green. I get that Oliver has the momentum and Pryor wasn’t anticipating, so he should have the advantage.  But the Louisville rookie didn’t attempt a tackle on Oliver until the Jets’ 40 yard line (!). That’s where Pryor is standing in the image!  So that’s nearly 20 yards ran by Oliver in the same time frame it took Pryor to stroll over laterally about five yards, then pathetically slide into a woeful missed tackle.

Grade: F. If the Jets are planning on still starting Pryor despite the abnormally concerning mental errors and missed tackles we’ve seen almost every week, then they should honestly be counting on getting shredded by huge plays throughout the rest of the long season.

Antonio Allen:
Snaps- 24 (32%)

For a guy that got a significant break in going form nearly 100% of snaps played per week at corner to only 32% at a rotational safety, you’d think Allen would have been able to revert to his 2013 form as a playmaker. Wrong. Allen was beat so easily by Antonio Gates all day long.  I actually credit Rex for manning him up on Gates since he was so electric covering Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski last year, but this was just an unpredictable disaster for Allen. He looked crazy sluggish, almost as if he was still playing every down. Hopefully he can start to catch back up with more rest and time to re-adjust to safety, but after this week’s showing, I won’t be expecting that to happen anytime soon.
Grade: F

The Jets’ secondary is playing just as bad as it has looked live this season, with this week being the most ripe example we have to view. The safeties have been completely incompetent, and with Landry fallen off the map entirely and Pryor learning slowly, it’s hard to expect any kind of turnaround. I didn’t expect it to be this bad going into the season, and I give tons of credit to those who did.