New York Jets: How to Handle the Secondary for 2015
Last season the New York Jets secondary was a glaring weakness. Failures in free agency and two key injuries set the unit back. In response, the Jets were forced to play Antonio Allen out of position, turn to backups and eventually play whomever they could find off of the wire.
Today I thought we could take a closer look at the secondary. The Jets have some decisions to make during the off-season concerning the secondary. They have players that are free agent eligible, others coming off of injuries, and an aging safety. What they do, will have a big impact on the Jets defensive unit next season, so let’s take a look.
Dee MillIner and Dexter McDougle both suffered season ending injuries which had a huge effect on the secondary. Dee MillIner was a first round pick in the 2013 draft. His rookie season was marred with minor injuries and several benchings due to inconsistent play. Milliner was slowed in preseason this year by an ankle injury, he made his return for opening day, but tore his Achilles Tendon in week six, ending his season.
Milliner is being depended on to anchor this unit, he was the projected starter last season. Milliner has the tools, but has yet to prove his capabilities on the field. The Jets will likely be relying on him to stay healthy and produce in 2015. I’d have to believe they would like to sign a veteran, though, just in case.
Next: Dexter McDougle
Aug 7, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Headshot of New York Jets cornerback Dexter McDougle (43) during a game against the Indianapolis Colts at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Dexter McDougle was slated as a starter in 2014. McDougle is 5’10″/195 pound product of Maryland. The Jets chose him in the third round of the 2014 draft. He brought high praise from Rex Ryan during camp last year, and many projected him to start opposite Millner. Unfortunately for the Jets and McDougle, he suffered a season ending tear to his ACL in early August.
McDougle is desperately need back for 2015. The Jets need him to stay healthy and win a starting job. Whether he can do either of those things is an ongoing debate among Jets fans. A lot of next year’s secondary defense lies on McDougle’s shoulders. How well he performs will be a key factor for the secondary next season.
Antonio Allen was moved from safety to cornerback, stunting his development in 2014.
Safety is an intriguing position for the Jets. They went out and drafted Calvin Pryor in the first round of the 2014 draft, and immediately started him. Pryor’s contributions in 2014 were less than ideal. He struggled making the transition to the pros. Playing outside of the box, he struggled mightily. His deficiencies in the passing game became quickly apparent, his angles to the point of attack and his tackling were extremely poor. He’s a big hitter, but needs to improve on his fundamentals.
Antonio Allen was progressing nicely as a safety in 2013. Unfortunately for AA, the Jets chose to move him to CB early in the season. He had his moments as a corner, but it eventually proved too much for him to handle. The Jets then decided to bring him back to safety, but it was apparent his confidence had been shattered. Allen remains an option at safety, but it would be difficult to pencil him in as the starter for 2015.
Next: Free Agents
The Jets also have some decisions to make concerning their own free agents in the secondary. Currently they have two safeties and three corner backs approaching free agency this year. What they do here will greatly impact the unit going ahead. Especially at safety, the Jets will be forced to make some tough choices. Both Dawan Landry and Jaiquawn Jarrett are unrestricted free agents this year.
Landry has played adequately for the Jets over the past two seasons. He’s been the leader and anchor for the Jets safety corps. Landry will be 33 years old by the start of the 2015 season however. His play hasn’t been spectacular by any means, so the Jets will need to make a decision here. I think it’s likely he won’t return.
Jarrett is the younger talent. Jarrett fared well this season, again not spectacular, but he did make a case for the Jets to resign him. He’s only played as a rotational guy to this point, primarily serving as a backup. The Jets will need to decide how much value they believe he has as an every down player. Jarrett is only 25 years old, and with further development might be a replacement for Landry if they decide to let him go.
At Cornerback, the Jets will have to decide the fates of Kyle Wilson, Philip Adams, and Marcus Lott. The first two are UFA’s and the latter a RFA. The Jets will need a considerable amount of depth at the position, so they will need to determine if any of these three have a future with the franchise.
Kyle Wilson was drafted in the first round of the 2010 by the New York Jets. Rex Ryan loved the pick and claimed he would be the starter opposite Darrelle Revis for years to come. As we all know that didn’t work out, as Revis was traded and Wilson proved he couldn’t handle the outside. Wilson was moved inside, but things never got much better. Many fans have labeled him a bust over the years. Normally I’d say the Jets let him test the market, I hesitate only because of a lack of proven talent at the position currently.
Next: Darrin Walls
Oct 26, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Buffalo Bills wide receiver Sammy Watkins (14) catches the ball in front of New York Jets cornerback Darrin Walls (30) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
A couple of other guys that are under contract will also need to be evaluated for our secondary. Cornerback Darrin Walls, Marcus Williams, and Rontez Miles all hold contracts. Walls struggled terribly as a starter in 2014, his future with the Jets is questionable. On the other side of the coin, Marcus Williams came out of nowhere to show a great deal of upside in his brief appearances. Miles is a fringe player, signed as an undrafted free agent in 2013, and he’s spent his time relegated to the practice squad for most part.
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The Jets will likely be looking for a veteran corner in free agency; the need is there for leadership. They may also be looking for a corner in the draft as well. The need in the draft could be seen as either for a starter or for depth.
That’s a look at what the Jets currently have in the secondary. We watched some very poor play last season. There were some brief moments of hope as well. Faces will need to change for this unit to improve. How do you guys think the Jets secondary should be fixed? Who should stay or go? Free Agency? Draft? Let’s talk Jets football!