To put it lightly, the New York Jets and their defensive secondary last season had its fair share of issues. With the cornerback group in shambles, it had a significant impact on the play of the safeties. Starting safety Antonio Allen was forced to move out of the safety spot and play some cornerback, which was a struggle for him. Rookie first round pick Calvin Pryor also struggled since he was forced to play free safety, a position he never played in college. All in all, 2014 was not a year to remember for the defensive backfield.
Heading into the 2015 campaign, the Jets have a revamped secondary that is ready to bounce back after a tough season. To start off, the group will be greatly helped by the incredible talent the team was able to acquire at the cornerback spot. Starters Darrelle Revis, Antonio Cromartie and Buster Skrine are three very good cornerbacks, making the safeties job that much easier.
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According to ESPN, Gilchrist finished the 2014 season with 76 tackles, two forced fumbles, and one interception. While Gilchrist is an upgrade for the Jets, his signing also allows Pryor to go back to his normal position at strong safety.
2014 was a frustrating season for Pryor in his NFL debut. Playing an unfamiliar position of free safety, he struggled in the passing game and his tackling angles were poor. All in all, it was a tough year for the man known as the “Louisville Slugger” since he just looked confused most of the time. While Pryor struggled, his talent was clear.
He laid some big hits last season and his play seemed to improve every week. As mentioned earlier, Pryor will now be playing strong safety, his natural position. Look for him to lineup in the box closer to the line of scrimmage this season. Pryor should have a big sophomore season in the NFL.
While Pryor and Gilchrist will likely be the starters in 2015, the Jets also have some quality depth players behind them at the safety spot. Leading the way is Jaiquawn Jarrett, who had a solid 2014 season. Jarrett had a terrific game last season vs the Pittsburgh Steelers where he registered 10 tackles as well as having two interceptions.
Nov 24, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; New York Jets free safety Jaiquawn Jarrett (37) against the Buffalo Bills at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Jarrett has the ability to play both free and strong safety and is a valuable player on special teams. Another quality backup for the Jets is Allen. In my opinion, I feel Allen is going to see the field more than any other backup in the secondary this season.
He is a very athletic player who has seen time at both safety spots and at cornerback, his versatility is amazing.
After suffering a serious injury that cost him his season in 2014, Miles is back and ready to contribute. He is a very physical player who isn’t afraid to deliver big hits as he always seems to be around the football. Keep an eye on Miles during the preseason.
The Jets clearly have improved the defensive secondary this season. This unit will be tested early this year as they face some very tough offenses. Look for head coach Todd Bowles to make this a very solid group in 2015 and beyond.