The schedule of the New York Jets is being deemed by many as brutal but the truth of the matter is, they have a chance in every game if their defensive secondary can live up to potential.
After close examination, the schedule of the New York Jets is not as brutal as it would look at first glance. It’s difficult, just not as difficult as you think when you see franchises like the Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Arizona Cardinals. Yes, they’re tough teams but this Jets’ defensive secondary will only get better over time and put them in a position to succeed.
The reason it won’t be as tough as people expect is because of the secondary’s ability to get interceptions and play the ball. The secondary did a lot of work last season. As a unit, they had 18 interceptions and 60 passes defended for the season. Added help in the front seven could make this secondary even better.
Cornerback Marcus Williams led the team in both interceptions (6), combined passes defended, and interceptions (16). In addition, cornerback Darrelle Revis had another stellar season being second on the team in both categories with five interceptions, 14 combined passes defended, and interceptions. Defensive backs Marcus Gilchrist and Calvin Pryor each added multiple interception seasons.
What makes the secondary so important is the propensity of the quarterbacks they’re facing to throw interceptions. Nine of the 13 quarterbacks they face have thrown at least one interception in at least half of the games in which he has played in his NFL career, and eight of the 13 have thrown two or more interceptions in at least 20% of their games.
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The biggest culprit is quarterback Carson Palmer.
He’s thrown at least one interception in 65.6% of his games and had two or more interceptions in 28.6% of his games.
Many have penciled the game against the Cardinals as a loss because it’s in Arizona.
However, whether it’s been Cincinnati, Oakland or Arizona, of his 45 2+ interception games, 21 have come at home.
Two other quarterbacks, they will face having 50%+ games with at least one interception and 25%+ games with 2+ interceptions are Andrew Luck and Andy Dalton. Before you pencil the game in Pittsburgh as a loss, Ben Roethlisberger isn’t much better. He has an interception in 59.6% of his games and two or more interceptions in 20.5%.
The toughest games for the secondary may be against Russell Wilson, Alex Smith, Tom Brady, Case Keenum and Tyrod Taylor. All of them, save for Keenum, have thrown at least one interception in fewer than 50% of his games, and Taylor and Keenum have had multiple interceptions in less than 10% of their games. Each of the other three has had multiple interception games in fewer than 20% of their games.
When we look at schedules, we tend to look at franchises and player name recognition when we look at the “difficulty” of the schedule. We also overreact to their records from the previous season.
Following the release of the 2016 schedule, Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News tweeted a slight overreaction. He wrote, “Don’t want to overreact, but the first half of the Jets schedule is absolutely brutal. The 1st quarter of the schedule looks like grim death.”
The schedule is far from being as brutal as it’s being described. It’s not easy, but when you look at it deeper, given this Jets team, and the quarterbacks they face, it will be easier than people think.