Oct 13, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets free safety Antonio Allen (39) warms up before facing the Pittsburgh Steelers at MetLife Stadium. The Steelers won the game 19-6. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Key to the Success of the 2014 New York Jets: The Safety Position

As we look ahead to the upcoming season, we look at what must go right, in order for the Jets to be successful in 2014. Yesterday we talked about Jace Amaro being a huge key to the team’s success. On the defensive side, we aren’t going to name a specific player, but a position. There will have to be a step up from the safety position in order for the 2014 Jets to be successful.

The first level of importance comes from the eye test. Time and time again last season, the Jets’ defense was beaten by the big play. The defense would be close to holding the other team down, and there would go a 20+ yard pass play to demoralize the unit and the fans.

That is on the cornerbacks, in part. They have to be able to defend in order for the Rex Ryan defense in order to work. Antonio Cromartie had a rough year in proving that statement to be true. What is the expression? Getting beaten “Like a drum”? That happened to Antonio and the cornerbacks for most of the 2013 season.

However, it is also on the safeties. Too many times, the safeties were late coming to help over the top. The safety position must communicate with the cornerbacks so the big plays just don’t happen. And that did not happen often enough from the safety spot, and made the secondary more vulnerable than in the past under Rex Ryan.

There were some flashes, such as the Antonio Allen pick six against the Patriots. It just didn’t happen enough for the team to excel last year.

Furthermore, the numbers do not lie. If you take a look at the Jets’ defense, from our friends at Pro Football Focus (subscription required), they posted a rating in pass coverage of -42.5. To compare, the rating in run defense was 84.2. Just to give you an idea, the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks posted a 32.6 against the run and 64.4 in pass coverage.

THAT is how you win. A balanced defense.

No matter who ends up starting at the safety position, Antonio Allen, Dawan Landry, Rontez Miles, or whoever else it might be, this position is important. The safety position is going to have to stand up and be counted for in order for the Jets to take the next step in 2014.

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  • RONBO19

    Alan, Although i agree with most of your post especially the need for excellent communication between the corners and safety’s, i think its important to emphasize last years problems were mostly a result of very poor corner back play. Like you said, whether it was a result of his being injured or simply employing poor technique Cro was dreadful last year. If a defense is not good at producing turn overs it damn well better be able to stop people on third downs and that is where we were brutal last year.Most of the third down conversions last year seemed to come on short passes designed to nullify the pass rush. In that case its imperative the corners employ proper press coverage technique and as Milliner was late to the party due to missing so much time in the off season (and the pre-season as well)it was obvious he was not up to the task (especially early on) and Cro just didn’t play like a #1 corner. A lot of people are touting the rookie McDougal, as well as the free agent Patterson to line up next to Milliner. If these guys are able to figure it out we may finally have that top 5 defense every one here wants to see. If they don’t its gonna be back to the old drawing board and Izzy is gonna get a lot of heat for being too passive in free agency?

    • Alan Schechter

      I agree Ron, the cornerbacks were equally bad. I just felt the entire backline was pretty bad. Your points are right on point, as usual.

  • Paul Newbold

    While I agree the safety position had a lot to be desired last season, it also was our deficient corner play that allowed teams to pass at will. Third down conversions against us were frequent and often in the short to intermediate game, it killed us, the deep ball just put the marker on the grave. I’m also curious on the way the Jets chose to address both positions, drafting a corner who is probably more suited for the slot then the outside, and a safety whom is definitely a hard hitter, but more of an in the box type. Can they change these guys games and allow them to contribute? Absolutely! However that is going to take time, a rookie starting in the secondary has a ton of adjustments to make as it is. The speed and physicality of pro receivers is a whole different game. So, they will need to make those adjustments, while learning different techniques to improve their coverage skills. That’s a lot to ask of a rookie!! I would have felt better with the guys they drafted if they had signed some veteran help to help them through the growing pains. Competition at safety and corner will be interesting through camp, I’m looking forward to it, but I still feel the secondary could very likely be the weakness of this unit once again. I really feel they missed the bus, when it came to fixing the secondary.