New York Jets Buster Skrine – A ‘Slot Defending CB’ or is There Something More?


Nov 6, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns cornerback Buster Skrine (22) celebrates on the sidelines during the second half against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Browns won 24-3. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

The Jets revamped and seemingly upgraded secondary will consist of a few familiar and not too familiar faces in 2015.  For the most part, the pieces and parts of the secondary that the Jets have collected thus far into the offseason appear as if they will gel rather well with one another.  Of course only time will tell, but the talent is undeniable for the most part.

Along with Antonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis, the Jets added former Browns CB Buster Skrine (Pronounced ‘Screen’) to presumably handle the WRs left roaming around the slot.  But, when watching the film on  Skrine, I noticed that not only is he a very active and seemingly aggressive cornerback, but he handled himself very well vs opposing team’s number 2 and sometimes slot WRs.  I went back to the film and wanted to see how he fared vs two of the Browns’s division rivals; the  Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals, and the film suggests that there’s more to Skrine than what we think we know.  His play in just these two games stood out so, that in my opinion, prevents him from being paced primarily under the “slot” CB category.  Here’s what I saw……

We start off in week six this past season vs the Steelers – Skrine was very active this game as he appeared to be energized on every snap……

Second Quarter – 3rd and 6 – ball on the 20 yard line:

Skrine is lined up opposite Steelers WR Markus Wheaton.  He gives him about a five-yard cushion, a potential dangerous cushion depending on the matchup.


As you can see, top of the screen, Skrine reacts perfectly as he keeps his eyes on the WR’s eyes and shadows him the entire time, practically running his route with him.  Stopping on a dime along with Wheaton here, allowed Skrine to make an excellent defensive play on the pass and essentially keeping Wheaton from ever having a legitimate shot at catching it.  He displays solid instincts and agility here.

Second Quarter – 3rd and 1: ball on the 44 yard line:  

Here (top of the screen), Skrine is once again lined up opposite of Wheaton again. (Wheaton was the Steeler’s #2 WR in this game) –   This time, Skrine only gives up a 2-3 yard cushion, a more secured cushion in my opinion when dealing with a speedy WR like Wheaton.

The first thing I noticed after the ball is snapped is Skrine’s physical instincts taking over almost immediately.  Skrine jams Wheaton immediately, then lets him go to keep from being flagged, quickly glances at the QBs eyes then immediately turns and recovers towards Wheaton to force the throw from Roethlisberger out-of-bounds.  This is text-book stuff here from Skrine who displays excellent technique from start to finish throughout the entire play.  The jam on Wheaton knocks him off his route and the timing off from Ben’s pass, just enough to cause an incomplete pass.  Techniques like these are what the Jets have been lacking since Revis and Cromartie left.

Third Quarter – 1st and 10: ball on the Steelers 20 yard line:

Steelers are in shotgun with rookie RB Dri Archer in the back field.  Skrine is out of the picture ready to defend the flat.  As shown in the second pic, the ball is snapped and dumped off to Archer for the screen but Skrine immediately begins closing in.                                                                                  


As you see here, Archer runs a very respectable route, catches the soft pass from Roethlisberger and immediately proceeds to turn up field.  But Skrine, who had eyes on Archer the entire time exhibits excellent closing speed as he chases Archer down for no gain.

Next: Skrine vs the Bengals

Nov 6, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Mohamed Sanu (12) is unable to make a catch against Cleveland Browns cornerback Buster Skrine (22) in the first quarter at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Week 10 vs the Bengals – Skrine was again noticeably very active and was essentially all over the field.

Third Quarter – 2nd and 3: ball on the Bengals 35 yard line:

Here you see Skrine in position to defend the Bengals “stacked” pre-snap design.  CBs that are responsible for defending stacks have to be very instinctive, disciplined and smart and some times very aggressive.  We see that here with Skrine when the ball snaps as his awareness immediately takes over.

When the ball is snapped, it takes Skrine only a half a second to decide/figure out what was happening, who was getting the ball and what he needed to do.  He completely and proactively engages Sanu here without so much as a second thought.   He exhibits natural and seemingly aggressive instincts and awareness on this play, something the Jets secondary lacked last season.

Same game vs the Bengals….

Fourth Quarter – 2nd and 10: ball on the Browns 41 yard line:

Skrine finds himself here lined up across from WR Greg Little who is incorporated within the Bengals’s 4 wide pre-snap design.  Skrine doesn’t give Little much room to work with here, a two and a half yard cushion at most it appears.

Once the ball is snapped, it appears as if the Bengals drew up a wily defensive pick play, but it only appears that way as it’s clear that Little is in the wrong place at the wrong time or running the wrong route in the wrong direction.  Browns FS Tashaun Gipson is merely trying to make sure he gets to his man who is arriving from out of the flat.  On his way there, Gipson picks off Little, thus allowing Skrine, who is once again extremely cognizant of what’s going on around him, the opportunity to be in the exact place his opposing WR was supposed to be in order to make the interception.

One could argue that this play is based primarily on luck or by chance.  Well, you can make that argument and I wouldn’t debate it, but after watching the Jets secondary past two seasons consistently find themselves in similar positions to make similar plays like this, only to squander them by either dropping INTs or simply not being cognizant enough of their surroundings in order to make a play on the ball.  However, I feel confident in saying that Skrine’s outstanding instincts once again pays off for his team here as he makes a semi athletic play to intercept the pass on the seemingly perfect pass by Andy Dalton.

Next: More Skrine vs Bengals

Nov 6, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver James Wright (86) is unable to make a catch while being defended by Cleveland Browns cornerback Buster Skrine (22) during the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. The Browns won 24-3. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Same game vs the Bengals…….

Fourth Quarter – 3rd and 15: ball on the Bengals 29 yard line:

Here’s Skrine lined up opposite WR James Wright.  He gives him a very modest cushion here, nearly 10 yards, but the cushion isn’t a big deal here considering the down and distance.  Skrine is once again reading Dalton’s eyes to try to get a pre-snap gauge on what Dalton might be doing.

Skrine glides into a wonderful backpedal off the snap and utilizes great technique and closing speed on the deep pass and route.   He plays the ball perfectly while it’s in the air and out muscles Wright for the ball.  They both go up for the pass but Skrine comes down with it for his second int of the game.

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The aforementioned plays aren’t enough to 100% convince anyone that Skrine is more than just a CB that will be best suited to defend the slot on this Jets team, but from what I’m seeing on film, Skrine exhibits excellent technique and fundamentally sound mechanics.  His awareness and instincts seem to be very solid and his speed, especially his closing and catch-up speed is very good.  He isn’t the most physical CB on this Jets team, nor was he on the Browns, but he was at times, the most consistently effective CB on that team and allowed his other secondary members to do more.

So what are we expecting from Skrine here with the Jets?  Well, on film he would be the Jets starting CB last season without question.  He’s a starting CB with solid/excellent techniques and mechanics on a team where he technically should be the #3 CB.  Because of his mechanics and techniques, I would say Skrine not only has the ability to adequately cover slot WRs, but if need be, he can slide over to the #1 or #2 spot.  In a defense that is expected to be highly creative and unique as the one Todd Bowles is expected to implement on this Jets team, Skrine skill set and fundamentally sound mechanics will not only come in handy, but they will allow this secondary to be aggressive and smart.

Is Skrine more than just a slot covering CB? Probably, but the Jets will likely be in a position (barring injuries) in which he won’t have to be anything more for the most part.  That my friends, is truly upgrading your secondary, wouldn’t you say?

*Want to thank my man Connor Rogers for assistance with the Skrine gifs.*

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