The NFL schedule makers did not do the Jets many favors this season, leaving the green and white with a steep path ahead. It is no secret that the Jets struggled in the secondary last season with the rookie Dee Milliner needing time to grow until he became a quality starter in the late part of the season, and Antonio Cromartie battling both age and injury. This upcoming season is seeing the addition of many new faces on the back end of Rex’s defense, including 1st round pick Calvin Pryor, as well as 3rd rounder Dexter McDougle.
Unfortunately for the new guys, as well as the veterans, this unit will have to start strong or the first half of the season could be long and painful. While the first game against Oakland shouldn’t pose that big of a challenge to the safeties and the corners, it’s the stretch immediately after that will test this young group the hardest. Following the Raiders, the Jets face the Packers in Lambeau field, then the Bears and Lions at home, followed by a trip to San Diego to face the Chargers heading into the brutal five-day stretch of the Broncos and the Patriots.
Just between the Packers, Lions and Bears, the Jets face some of the most potent passing attacks in the entire league. Aaron Rodgers is one of the best passers in the league and will look to exploit the inexperienced Jets secondary, in week 2 this will be a tall task a secondary that will likely still be trying to get the grasp of a new playbook. The Bears have the best receiver combo in the NFL in Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall and they will test the resilience of the cornerbacks. Next up the Jets will have to find a way to stop Calvin Johnson, arguably the best receiver in the NFL.
Following the Chargers, which won’t be an easy task either, the Jets play the Broncos at home and the Patriots in New England in short succession. Featuring two future Hall of Fame quarterbacks, this is the roughest two game stretch the Jets have seen in a while, and although anything can happen before then, right now the Jets secondary should be thinking about these games already.
Facing this many high-powered passing offenses in the first half of the season is a cruel twist of fate for a young secondary, and they will need to step up big if the Jets want to come out at or better than .500 in the first eight game stretch. Fortunately for the guys covering the plethora of prolific pass catchers, they won’t have to hold out too long on any play thanks to the defensive front hat seems to be getting better year over year. If these guys can step up early, and with the help of the big guys up front, the Jets should stand a good chance to exit the brutal first half of the season with playoff hope still intact.