Despite all the talk by analysts and fans alike as to who is going to be starting under center for green and white, there is a more pressing issue that needs to be looked at. Last year, led by a a strong performance by the defensive line, the Jets front 7 anchored the defense while the secondary struggled mightily. This was a group of led by the veteran CB Antonio Cromartie, who unfortunately did not possess the consistency that made our secondary a standout unit even in the absence or Darrelle Revis the season before. Cromartie is now gone by way of free agency, and it seems like the Jets did not go out of there way to try and keep him. So what is in store for our secondary going forward.
The first piece of the puzzle is Dee Milliner, the second year CB who struggled mightily in the early part of the season but really showed the skills that made him a 1st round pick by the month of December. Cornerback is probably one of the hardest position to transition to at the NFL level, the receivers are just collectively a stronger, faster and more skilled group. Will Dee be able to keep that momentum and use it to have a productive season? We will have to wait and see to find out. Next we have Dimitri Patterson, who has been nothing but a ball hawk every time he sees the field. Unfportunately for him he hasn’t been able to stay healthy for extended stretches of time leaving us with a small sample size to judge his talent. However, if Patterson can stay healthy, Dee can continue playing solid, and Kyle Wilson keeps improving in the slot, our cornerback positions will be good to go.
Next we have the safety position, and before we start breaking down things here I just want to say how happy I am the Jets drafted a safety early, hopefully leading to the end of the revolving door we have had at the safety position since the departure of Jim Leonhard and Eric Smith. Antonio Allen showed good growth last season and will look to continue plucking balls from Rob Gronkowski‘s grasp. Meanwhile enter the new guy, the hard hitting young gun Calvin Pryor. Pryor plays with a physicality that is reminiscent Laron Landry. Hopefully Pryor can adjust to the speed of the game quickly and be a contributor early on, if not we do have serviceable depth at the two safety positions but this would not be the ideal situation.
So what we have is a lot of questions, a lot of what if’s, and it is hard to judge whether the secondary will once again be the disastrous unit that it was last season, or if it will be an effective unit that helps the Jets have a top tier defense. The secondary the Jets have put together for next season has the potential to be either boom or bust, but if the young guys can continue to improve we might be in for a treat as more quality play from the secondary will lead the defensive line to be a more dominant unit as well.