Key to the Success of the 2014 New York Jets: The Safety Position
By Alan Schechter
Oct 13, 2013; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets free safetyAntonio 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
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.
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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.