Week 12 Secondary Breakdown

Ben DiNapoli with his breakdown of the New York Jets secondary heading into week 13…

Losers of four in a row, the Jets fell once again, this time to the Patriots 24-13 in a game that wasn’t as close as the score indicates. In what’s become a recurring trend, the defense, outside of Jamal Adams, struggled to do much of anything – New England ran all over the Jets and Tom Brady barely broke a sweat, making throws to wide open receivers without facing much pressure. A unit many considered a strength coming into the regular season, the secondary continued a streak of underwhelming performances with the exception of Adams, who is quickly rising up the ranks of the NFL’s best safeties.

Brady finished 20-31 for 283 yards and two touchdowns against a pass defense that was suspect throughout the afternoon. Many of his incompletions were a result of bad throws as opposed to the Jets making plays. Julian Edelman had a big day, finishing with 4 catches for 84 yards and a touchdown where he split multiple defenders after catching a short pass near the fifteen-yard line. Edelman, along with Josh Gordon, Rob Gronkowski and Chris Hogan, had receptions that went for over 20 yards – another testament to the amount of chunk plays the Jets’ pass defense continues to allow. The Patriots were also able to take advantage of multiple busted coverages downfield.

In a bit of a surprise move, the Jets started cornerback Darryl Roberts at free safety in place of Marcus Maye, but aside from that, the secondary is back at full strength. Injuries are no longer an excuse for poor play or a lack of takeaways. Speaking of takeaways, the defense failed to force any turnovers for the fifth straight game, which is really astounding. However, it’s difficult to create takeaways when a team doesn’t get to the quarterback. Brady wasn’t pressured all that much and when he was, he got the ball out and attacked the middle of the field quite effectively.

It’s All About Jamal

Right now, the only player worth discussing in the secondary is Jamal Adams, who had his best game of the season in yet another stellar performance. Adams finished second on the team with 10 tackles but more impressively, he had 3 passes defended – no one else even had one. He was his usual effective self in the box, blowing up running lanes and applying pressure to Tom Brady. Yet, what really stuck out were his improvements in man coverage.

Many fans will remember last year against the Patriots where Gronk beat Adams for two touchdowns. Adams was in position both times but was just a bit late and missed out on making a play. This game was a much different story. First, Adams laid a big hit to break up a pass intended for Gronk early in the first quarter. He timed the hit perfectly, just as Gronk went to bring the pass down. He made a similar play on Julian Edelman, on a pass that surely would’ve been a first down. Adams once again had perfect timing, knocking the ball loose from Brady’s other favorite target.

The next two plays were on the same series at the end of the second half when the Patriots were driving in the red zone. Adams was tasked with covering Gronk both times one on one and he proved to be up to the task. On the first pass, he nearly came down with an interception, forcing the Patriots tight end to play defense to prevent a turnover. New England tried another fade on the next play but tight coverage forced a bad throw out of bounds. Adams was physical with Gronk, allowing him to get into good position on both passes and forcing tough throws.

I wrote back in August one of the things Adams needed to work on was his coverage in order to be considered amongst the elite safeties. This game really show cased his ascension, but he’s been better in coverage all year. He’s not a perfect player, as you’d like to see him start to hit on some sacks and force turnovers. However, performances like these reinforce that Jamal Adams is the best player on this team and it’s not all that close.

Week 13 Outlook

New York travels to Tennessee to take on the Titans in week 13. Quarterback Marcus Mariota has had an up and down year, some of which is due to injury, but he doesn’t exactly strike fear into opposing defenses. Outside of Corey Davis, Tennessee’s pass catching weapons are also underwhelming – this looks like a favorable matchup for the Jets secondary on paper. However, with the way New York has played lately, they don’t inspire confidence even in plus matchups.

The Titans are coming off a bad loss in primetime against Houston and will assuredly be looking to bounce back in a big way. That’s not good for the Jets, who’ll be looking to snap a five game skid in which the team has been outscored 142-56. Look for Davis to have a big day receiving, along with Dion Lewis and Derrick Henry on the ground. Realistically, you also have to expect at least one of the Titans’ lesser pass catchers to have a decent game considering the state of the secondary.

Let the tank ensue, Jets fans…