New York Jets: Fixing the Defense in 2015


Sep 28, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) throws the ball in front of New York Jets defensive end Sheldon Richardson (91) during the second quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Much has been talked about concerning the Jets “front seven”. Defensively, Jets fans have highly regarded the front. I’m a bit different in that I see them having a great defensive line and a lack luster LB corp. The secondary has been much maligned and with good cause. Things are going have to change for this defense to take the next step and become dominant.

Bring in Todd BowlesBowles is a respected defensive mind in the NFL. He’s rumored to be considering more of a 4-3 scheme this year for the Jets. With the change of scheme, players will need to adjust and personnel will need to be brought in to fit the scheme.

It’s widely thought that the Jets can easily make the transition, and that Todd Bowles is the guy that get it done. Yesterday, we took a look at the offense.  Today I’d like to take a look at the Jets defense and what is needed to fix its deficiencies.

Next: The Jets Secondary

Nov 24, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Kyle Orton (18) throws a pass under pressure by New York Jets defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson (96) during the first half at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets defense played well up front last season. The linebacking corp was adequate in the run game, but struggled again in pass coverage. The Jets secondary however, was a disaster. Rex Ryan did his best to piece meal a secondary together, but the personnel was just not there.

The Linebacking corp will need to reworked this season, as well as the secondary for the Jets to become a dominant force defensively. Many are claiming the Jets defense is in trouble, but I don’t see it as an impossible task to fix. Let’s take a look at the secondary.

Current Roster: The Jets coaching staff will need to evaluate each member of the current secondary roster for the Jets. Todd Bowles and Mike Maccagnan will need to figure out what we have and where they fit in a new system.

Currently at CB the Jets have; Philip Adams, Curtis Brown, Keith Lewis, Dexter McDougle, Dee Milliner, Dashaun Phillips, Darrin Wallsand Kyle Wilson.

At Safety the names look like this; Antonio Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Dawan Landryand Calvin Pryor.

The secondary weaknesses kept the Jets defense on the field far too long, too many times again last season. Any Jets fan will tell you that the secondary was the major weakness for the team last year. Some are claiming it will take years to fix, but again, I strongly disagree. Let’s take a look at how the Jets can fix it quickly.

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Next: Fixing the Secondary

Oct 5, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back

Branden Oliver

(43) runs by New York Jets free safety Calvin Pryor (25) during the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s start with the Cornerback position. The Jets lacked a true starter last season due to some decimating injuries in the back field, and a lack of personnel. So they will need to get healthy and bring in some help.

Dee Milliner must return healthy and step up his game to claim one of the starting spots on the outside. Kyle Wilson has likely played his last snap as a Jet, that is unless Bowles believes he can get something out of him on the cheap. Dexter McDougle is returning, and with proper coaching and a healthy season, they can plug him into the slot Wilson vacates in the slot/nickel role.

The Jets now have one outside corner and the slot corner in place. They will need to bring in another veteran corner for Bowles’ defense. Luckily for the Jets, free agency and the draft offer some options. Many fans are calling for a reunion with Darrelle Revis. I am not one of them. Revis is now 30 years old and looking for a long-term big money deal; he’s not necessary to fix this secondary in my opinion.

Free Agency offers plenty of adequate options. Some of the names being tossed around for the Jets are; Kareem Jackson, Antonio Cromartie, Byron Maxwelland Brandon FlowersMy choice would be to sign Kareem Jackson, but anyone of the top free agents will do. After signing their premier free agent, the Jets could look for an aging veteran for depth purposes. This signing should be short-term at low-cost.

The Jets now have Dee Milliner starting on one side, a premier free agent starting on the other and Dexter McDougle in the slot. Depth is a concern as with most teams at the position. That’s where competition comes in.

If you read my earlier piece on the offense, you already know I’m a proponent of the Jets trading down in the first round to add two second round choices in this year’s draft. The Jets can now grab a corner in the first, second, or third round for depth, depending on the priority they see the position in.

The Jets have some young corners they are hoping will develop. The competition is key at corner, they will need some of these young guys to man the backup roles. If they can, and with a second tier free agent in the mix, the Jets should be fine for 2015 at corner.

The Jets safety position holds talent, the need here is for a true free safety. Dawan Landry is likely gone, but the Jets can easily find a safety through the draft to fill the whole. Being a Penn State fan, an a fan of players with versatility, I’d take a look at Adrian Amos in the mid rounds. Name your guy, the Jets will need a FS from the draft.

Next: The Linebackers

Dec 21, 2014; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) is sacked by New York Jets corner back Antonio Allen (39) and New York Jets linebacker Demario Davis (56) during the first quarter at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets will have some decisions to make concerning the LB corp for 2015. It’s an interesting position, in that Todd Bowles in the past likes to use his safeties in a similar fashion to his LB’s. That being said, the Jets will need to replace aging Calvin PaceThe Jets will also need to make a decision on veterans David Harrisand Jason Babin.

If Bowles goes to a 4-3 predominant scheme as predicted, the Jets will need to find the right mix. Let’s take a look at what the Jets currently have on their roster.

The Starters. Last season the Jets started David Harris, Demario Davis, Calvin Pace and Quinton Coples at the LB corp. It’s widely thought that with a move to a 4-3 scheme, Coples likely returns to his natural position with the defensive line. Todd Bowles will make that call.

The Depth. Behind the starter the Jets have; Jason Babin, Nick Bellore, Jermaine Cunningham, Mario Harvey, Trevor Reilly, Chris Young.

The Fix. I think this one is rather easy. The Jets retain Harris short-term and start him along with Demario Davis. Two of the three LB spots are now covered and the Jets can turn to the draft to fill the remaining hole. If they choose to, the Jets can use their late first round pick(see the last page) to fill the spot. I’d go with Paul Dawson out of TCU.

The Jets can also look at a late round pick or undrafted free agents to bring in additional depth. Linebacker is not that hard of a fix. I believe it can be done without a free agent, but Maccagnan might be looking for a cheap option there as well.

Next: 2015 New York Jets Overview

Jan 21, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets new general manager Mike Maccagnan (left), owner Woody Johnson (center), and new head coach Todd Bowles (right) pose for a photo during a press conference at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: William Perlman/NJ Advance Media for via USA TODAY Sports

Ownership has done its job, Woody Johnson went out and hired competent, well-respected men to run his organization. The coaches will evaluate the talent currently on hand along with our GM. I’ve laid out my plan to turn the Jets around. I’m not a GM, so they will likely take a different approach, but it shouldn’t be that far from the mark. Let’s take a moment to review.

Offensively, the Jets go out and make a trade for a veteran QB and sign a developmental QB in the draft. Both compete with Geno Smith for the starting job in 2015. Next they take a top-level guard in free agency, bulking up the offensive line, and another developmental type comes from the draft.  They then sign a deep threat wide receiver in free agency, and possibly a second tier one as well. After trading back in the first round of the draft, they can draft one of the top receivers in the second round. Two acquisitions in free agency can fix the Jets offense.

Defensively, the Jets sign a top-level free agent corner. Possibly looking to add a second tier guy for depth. The Jets will likely look to draft a top corner as well. After having used one of the second round pick on a WR, they can go corner in the second if they choose.  Safety can be fixed by bringing in a mid round FS. Finally the Jets use their first round pick to upgrade their LB corp.

Overall, the Jets have a surplus of cap space. If they cut Chris Johnsonand Percy Harvin, the latest cap figure I’ve seen puts them about them at about 69 million in cap space. In my plan they will need to sign three top-tier free agents, and possibly two other second tier guys. That type of free agency period, coupled with a successful draft will set the Jets up to succeed in 2015.

The Jets have the potential to turn this team around, and they can do it quickly in my opinion. So, what’s your take? We here at the Jet Press want to know. Join the discussion! Let’s talk Jets football!

Next: Fixing the Offense