The New York Jets are preparing for upcoming organized team activities and training camp. How will their cornerback situation look like heading into them?
With OTA’s around the corner, the New York Jets and their coaching staff will begin to evaluate the roster’s talent and begin installing some of their schemes for 2016. First impressions will be made and cuts will be made so that the will be shaped to head into summer training camp.
The Jets’ defensive secondary came under fire at times last season by reporters for not living up to expectations after the team spent a mountain of money in free agency. It was obvious by season’s end that the Jet’s weren’t happy and that adjustments would need to be made for 2016.
The secondary is led by Darrelle Revis, who returned to the Jets last season after signing a whopping five-year $70M dollar contract with $39M of that money fully guaranteed. Revis will return once again to lead this unit for 2016, but questions linger after a less than spectacular 2015, an offseason surgery and the fact he turns 31-years-old this summer.
His talent is undoubted around the league, Pro Football Focus has him ranked as the fourth best cornerback in the league, so barring injury, Revis will once again anchor the Jets’ defensive secondary this upcoming season.
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On the flip side, cornerback Antonio Cromartie was signed to a big money contract in 2015 that didn’t work out as well as general manager Mike Maccagnan would have liked.
Cromartie was signed to a four-year deal worth $32M last season.
His play was far off expectations and a well written contract allowed the Jets to walk away at no cost early this spring.
Cromartie is a thing of the past, now the team must decide on who the next starter will be.
Versatile defensive back Buster Skrine was also added last season to bolster the group, but with mixed results. Skrine played predominantly inside for the Jets last season where he drew criticism for his lack of ability to cover without penalty when defenses chose to spread the Jets’ defense and for his lack of tackling.
Head coach Todd Bowles has said he expects Skrine to be his 2016 starter opposite Revis this year, but that might change before the season begins. Skrine has experience at the boundaries, but is often penalized there too, not an ideal candidate by fan’s assessments.
Cornerback Marcus Williams broke onto the scene in 2015 after showing flashes in 2014 and quickly became a fan favorite. Williams is only 25-years-old, and has been on the rise for the Jets. The 5’11″/196 pound corner appeared in 13 games last season, posting 17 pass defenses and seven interceptions. He’s likely to be given consideration to replace Cromartie this summer, in a competition that promises to be a hard fought ordeal.
Dexter McDougle also offers options for the Jets, along with oft injured, former first round pick Dee Milliner. Both were highly regarded by Rex Ryan when taken in the draft, but injuries and inefficient play have slowed the starts to their respective careers. Milliner was supposed to be the future anchor of this defense and heading into the final year of his rookie contract, this summer will be make or break for him.
Jun 9, 2015; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets cornerback Dexter McDougle (23) and New York Jets cornerback Marcus Williams (20) talk during New York Jets minicamp at Atlantic Health Jets Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets haven’t sat idle at the position during the offseason either. New additions include Kendall James, and Darryl Morris in free agency. The team also turned to the 2016 NFL Draft to acquire Juston Burris in the fourth round. Post draft, they added rookies Kevin Short and Bryson Keeton as well.
With the returning talent and the new acquisitions, the Jets will still have to answer several questions concerning their defensive secondary before they are ready to kick off the 2016 regular season. Darrin Walls, Antonio Allen along with Cromartie won’t be contributing this season, and the Jets will have to find the depth they need to succeed.
Ideally, Milliner and McDougle prove their draft stocks and remain healthy through the season. The Jets not only have to replace a starter, but they very much need to have depth as well. The competitions promise to be intriguing this summer, spots will be for the taking and the coaching staff will have its’ hands full.
For myself, I see the starting group as Revis/Williams on the outside with Skrine returning to the slot. If healthy, I’m looking for McDougle to compete on the inside, and for Bowles to find some way of working Milliner into the mix. Burris might be able to crack this roster, but it’s likely he sits the season out on the practice squad.
If Bowles can find the right mix at corner, the Jets will be well on their way to build a top ten defense once again. A strong upgrade at linebacker, a stout front four and an improving safety group promises to remove the pressure from their corners. If the Jets younger corners can step up and make the position a strength as well, opposing offenses will have a tough go of it this year.
How do you see the Jets’ cornerback positional group? Do you have predictions for the starting group? We here at The Jet Press want to hear about them. Please leave us a comment below and Let’s Talk Jet Football!!