After the past few seasons of underwhelming play from the slot corner position, the New York Jets quickly acted on upgrading this offseason with the signing of former Browns CB Buster Skrine.
Buster Skrine, a fifth round pick in 2011, found his way onto the Cleveland Browns starting line up in 2013 and held the spot opposite Joe Haden for the entire 2014 season before entering free agency.
If you’ve read up on any of Jets Head Coach Todd Bowles defensive philosophies one of the first things you’d find out is just how much he plays his slot corner. The Jets should see a sharp increase this season in usage of defensive packages with three corners, which helps explain the quick targeting of Skrine in free agency.
Last season, he was able to play anywhere the Browns asked him to and handle the responsibilities fairly well. Skrine lined up on the outside, inside, played pressed coverage, dropped back and played safety. He was also utilized as a blitzer off the edge. The versatility Skrine offers is exactly the type of player Bowles likes to employ on his defenses.
Apart from the versatility that Skrine brings to the Jets there are many other positive elements to his game. Many who covered Skrine, saw him as a player that has improved every season, who offered an intriguing and valuable skill set.
Physically, he’s a tough player who likes to play aggressive. He brings a sense of reliability in terms of injury history that the Jets have struggled with the past two seasons. He hasn’t missed a game due to injury in over three years and played in 97% of the defensive snaps for the Browns last season.
The biggest knock you’ll hear on Skrine is how often he is penalized. He was called for the second most penalties in the league out of all the defensive backs in the NFL last year with 15. One thing we noticed is that he tends to get extremely grabby when he feels he is beat on a route.
- Recovery speed.
- Football IQ
- Strength against bigger receivers and tight ends
- Changing direction
- Defensive Penalties
Here is something you will notice Skrine doing whether he’s lined up in the slot or outside. As soon as the ball his snapped, he initiates contact and jams Reggie Wayne. He stays with Wayne step for step in his route and as soon as Wayne touches the ball Skrine comes into knock the ball loose. He’s constantly trying to disrupt the WR from making a clean, easy catch.
Below, Skrine is lined up in the slot on Hilton. Skrine’s speed is on display here as he stays with Hilton step for step on the play and perfectly times his dive breaking up the pass and not allowing a big catch.
Later, when lined up inside again on Hilton, Skrine shows off his football IQ and athleticism. He gives Hilton the inside route, protecting the outside and makes a great diving play on the football saving a touchdown.
Overall, Skrine’s positives should outweigh the negatives. There are times where you’ll be frustrated with the penalties he’ll get called for this season but Skrine should be a monumental upgrade over Kyle Wilson as the teams primary slot corner. You won’t see him struggle to turn his head and locate a ball and you won’t see any bombastic, undeserving finger wags.