The Jets continued to struggle in week 10, putting forth their worst performance of the season in an ugly effort against the Buffalo Bills. While it was a bad game on both sides of the ball, the secondary especially struggled, which is concerning considering they were facing an offense led by Matt Barkley. For some perspective, Barkley was signed off the street less than a month ago to replace Nathan Peterman as the Bills’ starting quarterback – Buffalo was still able to put up 41 points in this game…
As I mentioned last week, this was supposed to be a dominant game for the secondary coming off a strong performance against Miami. Gang green was facing a Buffalo team with one of, if not the worst offenses in the league and was starting a third string quarterback. Additionally, the Jets were welcoming back their big-ticket free agent signing Trumaine Johnson. However, this group completely folded, allowing Barkley to finish 15-25 for 232 yards and 2 TDs.
The Bills consistently drove down the field with ease, burning the Jets deep with receivers like Robert Foster, who was just signed from the practice squad, and Zay Jones, an underwhelming second round pick from the 2017 draft. On top of poor coverage, New York was once again unable to force any turnovers. This makes four games in a row without any takeaways and at this point, one has to think the early season surge was merely a fluke.
Let’s take a look at some studs and duds from the secondary in week 10:
Stud: S Jamal Adams
In what was a poor effort by almost everyone on the defense, Adams came to play, showing why he’s one of the leaders on this team. He wasn’t targeted much in the passing game but was once again very active around the line of scrimmage. He finished with 0.5 sacks, 1.5 tackles for loss, 2 QB hits and 1 pass defended. That makes for a pretty complete game for the second year safety and we’re starting to see him convert when he gets into the backfield. Right now, he’s the best player on this unit and it’s not all that close.
Dud: CB Trumaine Johnson
Johnson struggled in his return to action after missing 5 games due to a quad injury. While some of this can be attributed to rust, he’s been getting beat consistently throughout the year and it’s very concerning when he’s having trouble covering lackluster receivers. On the first play of the game, Robert Foster simply ran by him for a 47-yard gain. He also gave up a few first downs when attempting to cover Zay Jones. It looks like Johnson is playing off coverage with a fear of getting beat deep, but that isn’t his strength and thus hasn’t been working well. Hopefully, the bye will allow him to get more reps and get fully healthy. With that being said, he’ll need a major turnaround to make his first season with the Jets look like anything other than a major disappointment.
Stud: S Marcus Maye
Similar to Adams, Maye wasn’t challenged much in the passing game, but played tight coverage and overall had a solid game. He finished with 5 tackles and 1 pass defended. Maye had some hiccups when returning from injury but otherwise, he’s been a good starter for the Jets, both in coverage and coming up near the line of scrimmage to make tackles. The talent was never a question, but it’s nice to see Maye establish some consistency in year two.
Dud: CB Buster Skrine
This was a bad outing for Skrine as the aforementioned Zay Jones consistently beat him all game long, leading to a career day for the second year receiver. Skrine let up a 33-yard gain, multiple first downs and a touchdown all while covering Jones. While Jones has potential to be a good player, he is by no means a stud at this point in his career. This goes to show how bad Buster Skrine can be when he has an off day, something Jets fans are all too familiar with.
Bye Week Thoughts
The signing of Johnson in free agency was supposed to make the secondary one of the Jets’ strengths this season. The group certainly talked a big game, but through 10 weeks, it’s been a mixed bag – the secondary still doesn’t make enough plays to make a difference on a consistent basis. They’ve shown up against lesser competition, but have had stretches of being routinely torched no matter the opposition.
After being embarrassed by a passing attack without much talent, the secondary has to be eager to get back on the field and show week 10 was an outlier. I’m interested to see how they respond coming out of the bye, but facing Tom Brady and the Patriots certainly won’t help.
Unfortunately, no matter what happens the rest of the way, the Jets likely will find themselves right back in the cornerback market this offseason…