New York Jets 2015 Training Camp: Grading safety situation


It’s safe to say that the past two years have been fairly inconsistent for the safeties of the New York Jets. As many plays as Ed Reed made in his short time in New York, he was still beat on numerous occasions in coverage. For the most part, Dawan Landry was very reliable, but he still gave up five touchdowns in his Jet career. With that being said, 2015 seems to be the year the unit may finally hold its own and excel.

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Last year’s first-round pick Calvin Pryor is moving back to his natural position at strong safety, Antonio Allen will be making the move back to safety, and the acquisition of Marcus Gilchrist will of course add talent.

Gang Green also placed a second-round tender on Jaiquawn Jarrett who was effective in 2014 playing both free and strong safety. Rontez Miles and Durell Eskridge are the other two safeties on the roster heading into training camp, but the guys at the top of the depth chart will make the biggest difference this upcoming season.

Dec 28, 2014; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets free safety Calvin Pryor (25) reacts against the Miami Dolphins during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

Pryor is coming off his rookie year in which he played out of position at free safety. As a result, he was a huge liability in pass defense allowing 78.9% of balls in his coverage to be caught. To go along with that stat, he gave up two touchdowns and failed to intercept a pass. This season, he obviously won’t be in coverage too often, but the numbers show that his game may be one-dimensional in the NFL.

According to, the “Louisville Slugger” ranked 25th out of 59 safeties in run defense who received at least 50% of snaps. Although, despite his ability to stop the run, he did miss 15 tackles throughout his rookie campaign. With new head coach Todd Bowles’ plans to put him in the box a lot in 2015, Pryor will have to make tackles and play hard-nosed football in order to remain a starter this season.

Gilchrist presents a lot of upside for the Jets, but he did allow 5 touchdowns while yielding 7 penalties last year (3 were declined). On PFF, he ranked 32nd overall out of 40 safeties who received at least 75% of snaps with a -7.6 in pass coverage. He did play strong safety as a member of the Chargers, but now that he’s a free safety, that grade is one that has to go up in 2015.

In 2013, his coverage grade was also negative, but the rest were positive. When asked to, Gilchrist can provide run support and even help out as a pass rusher in certain packages. One of the main reasons behind his move to free safety in New York is because he played corner before strong safety in San Diego. If he wants to make an impact in year one with Gang Green, he’ll have to have a solid training camp and show he can make plays on the ball over the middle of the field.

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

Allen and Jarrett are both two significant pieces to this unit despite the fact they don’t start. Like Pryor, Allen played out of position last year too. The former 2012 seventh-round pick started at corner in 2014 due to the dismissal of Dimitri Patterson along with season-ending injuries to Dee Milliner and Dexter McDougle.

Now, he can go back to what he was great at doing in 2013 and that’s shutting down tight ends. Two years ago, Allen only allowed 55.3% of passes thrown in his coverage to be completed. He contained the likes of Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham while giving up just one touchdown on the season.

On the other hand, Jarrett had two interceptions on the season and a reception allowed percentage of 42.9%. Only 14 balls were thrown his way, but he did improve off of his 2013 coverage grade (-0.3 in 2013, +5.2 in 2014). If he can replicate that grade in 2015, Gang Green will have quite the safety rotation for coach Bowles to utilize.

Miles and Eskridge are pretty much long-shots to make the roster, simply because it’s not likely the Jets keep more than four safeties on the final 53-man roster. Miles has been in New York’s system for two years now and he’s only suited up for one game. Therefore, it could very well be another year on the practice squad for the hard-hitter out of California University (PA).

Eskridge played his college ball at Syracuse and he’s well-known for his 6’3 height which is relatively tall for a safety. He may be the odd man out of this group, but he’s definitely good enough to find work elsewhere if the Jets choose to part ways with him when September hits.

Overall, the safety situation is very interesting heading into training camp. Pryor and Allen are looking to get back to their old position while Jarrett looks to impress once again. The unit may be talented, but until the Jets can get a full understanding of what they have in Gilchrist, the group still has to be further evaluated.

Grade: B

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