Week 4 New York Jets Secondary Breakdown

Ben DiNapoli with his weekly breakdown of the New York Jets secondary…

Coming off two bad losses, the Jets put forth their worst performance of the season in week 4, losing to the Jaguars 31-12. Jacksonville dominated pretty much every aspect of the game and although the Jets had a chance to make it close in the 4th quarter, there was never a feeling they would be able to complete the comeback. It was a bad game for the defense as a whole, but especially for the secondary, which as a unit, made Blake Bortles look like one of the NFL’s elite quarterbacks. As a result, you have to wonder, is this ultra-confident secondary merely more bark than bite?

Bortles finished the game 29-38 for an eye popping 388 yards, 2 touchdowns and an interception. To put it simply, the Jets had no answer for Jacksonville’s aerial attack. Dede Westbrook, who’s a nice player, but by no means a stud at this point in his career, had 9 catches for 130 yards. Almost all of his receptions were on short crossing routes that the Jets failed to cover throughout the game. Whether it was the result of miscommunications or busted assignments, it seemed like there were always receivers running free in the middle of the field. Regardless, it made no difference whether New York was in zone or man coverage; nothing was working this Sunday afternoon.

While there were many holes in coverage, the coaching staff also failed to adjust to the Jags’ offensive game plan. This allowed Bortles to sit in the pocket and fire to a wide-open target all game long. The game was frustrating to watch and as a result, the overall outlook on the self-titled New Jack City is not positive right now. Through 4 weeks, the unit has only had one good game and aside from Jamal Adams, every other player has been inconsistent at best.

With that being said, let’s look at some studs and duds from week 4:

Dud: CB Trumaine Johnson

Trumaine Johnson has been a member of this list every week, but mostly for the wrong reasons. He has yet to live up to his massive contract and struggled again in week 4. This week it was against Donte Moncrief, who beat Tru a few times, but most notably for a 67-yard touchdown in the 2nd half. Johnson, who is known for his physicality, was beat badly in press coverage for the long score. While his performance to this point is concerning, the hope is he’s too talented to continue to play at this level.

Stud: S Jamal Adams

Jamal Adams showed up once again against the Jags, most notably around the line of scrimmage. Adams led the team with 12 tackles and 1 for loss; he was constantly making key plays to limit gains. Additionally, he stepped up and laid a huge hit on Keelan Cole that energized both the team and the crowd. Adams has shown great awareness thus far and was often the first player to break off his assignment to make a stop. However, the young safety was flagged for unnecessary roughness late in the 4th quarter. As a leader on the team, Adams needs to show better discipline and control of his emotions, even in a blowout loss.

Dud: CB Buster Skrine

Skrine returned from injury this week and had another up-and-down game. While he did have a forced fumble and recovery, he was getting torched when matched up with Dede Westbrook and also had multiple missed tackles. Skrine needs to play better in order for this secondary to succeed and although it looked like he got picked on a few plays, he can’t allow slot receivers to run wide open down the field series after series. It’s a contract year for Skrine and as of now, he hasn’t done himself any favors.

Stud: CB Darryl Roberts 

Darryl Roberts received extended action this week, logging 22 defensive snaps, mostly while Morris Claiborne was out of the game with a stomach injury. To his credit, Roberts played pretty well and came down with an interception off a tipped pass that led to points for the offense. With some injuries lingering in the secondary, Roberts looks like a potential candidate for more playing time in the weeks ahead.

Clearly, there aren’t many positives to take away from this game when discussing the secondary’s performance. The unit did account for 3 turnovers in the 2nd half, but overall was unable to contain an underwhelming passing offense. Marcus Maye looked rusty in his debut, but I believe, as he gets more comfortable, his presence will help the defense. Additionally, Rashard Robinson, who had a strong camp, is returning from suspension and should get an opportunity to make some plays —  because of an injury to Trumaine Johnson, there’s likely to be some shuffling around on the backend of the defense.

The Jets face another pedestrian passing game in week 5 when the Broncos travel to MetLife Stadium. Case Keenum has really struggled this year, and although Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders are talented players, neither should present too much of a challenge at this point in their careers. The injury to Johnson will make things more difficult, but this looks like a week New Jack City can get back on track and regain some of its swagger.