Turn On The Jets Sunday Six Pack – Defensive Concerns

Joe Caporoso with a Sunday six pack of defensive concerns for the New York Jets

In honor of Mother’s Day, we decided to crank out a special Sunday six pack at Turn On The Jets…so make your Mom some damn brunch you lazy ingrate…and THEN sit back and let’s talk about that New York Jets defense (Last week’s offensive six pack)

1. One of the primary responses I received to this article on the Jets slot corner position was questioning whether we could see Dee Milliner work into that role. My initial assumption was that Milliner would primarily be relegated to the outside. However, Andrew Garda made a good point in a Podcast appearance I had during the week about the versatility Milliner showed at Alabama, particularly when covering tight ends like Notre Dame’s Tyler Eifert. There is no reason to think that in certain weeks Milliner won’t be given an opportunity to slide inside for specific match-ups, particularly if a team has a strong tight end or slot option compared to their primary outside receivers.

2. Another name that was mentioned as a suggestion was Josh Bush. However, at this point it appears Bush is going to get the first crack to be the starting free safety. Beyond that, I’m not sure Bush has the physicality to spend much time inside the box. It is also doubtful the Jets are going to put that much on his plate as getting him up to speed to handle a starting safety role is going to be a large enough task.

3. The Jets linebacker position remains weak overall. At inside linebacker, David Harris is coming off an all-around putrid season. I’m not saying that as a hyperbole, after working back through the Jets 2012 defensive tape, it is staggering to watch how much he struggled last year. He was consistently out of position, appeared two steps slower than normal and missed an inordinate amount of tackles. It remains to be seen if he could bounce back or not. Demario Davis is unproven alongside him and looked very raw in limited action last season.

At outside linebacker, the two de facto starters are really situational players. Calvin Pace cannot contribute on passing downs but remains serviceable at setting the edge against the run. Antwan Barnes has been a situational pass rusher his whole career. There is nobody else on the roster who really merits anything more than backup duty. Yes, Rex Ryan will cover up some deficiencies at linebacker by focusing more on using his defensive lineman but ultimately these guys will have to make plays at some point. In particular, the Jets really need Barnes to thrive in a larger role, Davis to grow up quickly and Harris to get back to at least his 2011 level of play.

4. UDFA safety Rontez Miles has turned a few heads at training camp so far and if there is a position for a UDFA to make the Jets roster, it is safety. Learn a little more about Miles here and here and his college highlight tape is below.

5. Last year the Jets started with 26 total players in defense, 10 defensive backs, 9 linebackers, 7 and defensive lineman. As of today, here is a generally uneducated guess on who makes it if they keep the same numbers.

DL – Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Sheldon Richardson, Kenrick Ellis, Antonio Garay, Damon Harrison, William Campbell (aware he is playing Guard but think he makes final 53 because of an ability to potentially play both ways if there was an emergency) also listing him because nobody else jumps off the depth chart as of now.

LB – David Harris, Demario Davis, Calvin Pace, Antwan Barnes, Josh Mauga, Nick Bellore, Garret McIntyre, Ricky Sapp, Veteran addition X (again nobody jumps off the current depth chart and it wouldn’t surprise me if the Jets added a veteran at either ILB or OLB)

DB – Antonio Cromartie, Dee Milliner, Kyle Wilson, Aaron Berry, Darrin Walls, Dawan Landry, Josh Bush, Antonio Allen, Rontez Miles, Isaiah Trufant

6. It is mind-boggling and borderline pathetic the Jets haven’t had a player with double digit sacks since 2005. 2005! This year I think two Jets have a realistic shot of ending that streak – Quinton Coples and Antwan Barnes. Coples is easily the team’s most talented pass rusher and had 5.5 sacks despite only playing in 47% of the defensive snaps last year. It will be a disappointment if he isn’t approaching or over 10 this year. Barnes has terrific burst off the edge and has a double digit sack season under his belt. Rex Ryan should be able to maximize his talents.

Author: Joe Caporoso

Joe Caporoso is the Owner and EIC of Turn On The Jets. His writing has been featured in the New York Times, Huffington Post, MMQB and AdWeek. Caporoso played football his entire life, including four years at Muhlenberg as a wide receiver, where he was arguably the slowest receiver to ever start in school history. He is the EVP of Content at Whistle Sports