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Jets need to fix their defensive secondary

Nov 6, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) reacts during the second half against Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. The Dolphins won 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 6, 2016; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis (24) reacts during the second half against Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. The Dolphins won 27-23. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
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With the shocking news on cornerback Darrelle Revis, the New York Jets have some major fixing to do when it comes to their defensive secondary.

It is no secret that the New York Jets need to rebuild their secondary for the upcoming season. The group as a whole, allowed opponents to average 243.6 yards per game against them. The safety group played poorly and the cornerback play was nothing short of ugly. As a result, opposing quarterbacks padded their stat sheets when facing the team.

What Went Wrong?

Cornerback Darrelle Revis fell apart right in front of Jets fans eyes! The veteran corner and fan favorite not only showed his age but showed a lack of effort. By season’s end, it was apparent to even the novice Jets fan that Revis’ days with the team were numbered. Priority one, replace Revis, especially after the latest updates regarding his offseason incident.

Cornerback Marcus Williams started out well. He’s developed himself into one of the Jets best corners in recent years. Unfortunately for the Jets and Williams, he was banged up during the season. While he did turn in two interceptions on the year, he once again only appeared in 13 games. Durability is a concern with Williams, in his three seasons as a Jets player, Williams has yet to turn in a full season. Williams is a restricted free agent in 2017 and the Jets will likely be looking to extend his deal at a cap friendly price.

Cornerback Buster Skrine has been adequate for the Jets, but surely not impressive. In his two years with the Jets, he’s only managed to post two interceptions and his coverage has been suspect. Holding and pass interference calls against Skrine happen far too often. He’s due to make a base salary of $6M in 2017, plus another $1.25M in the form of a signing bonus. The team might want to rework his contract to free up some cap space.

What We Have To Look Forward To

Cornerback Juston Burris was the highlight of the season for the Jets. Burris was a fourth-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. Forced into a significant role in his rookie season, Burris impressed many. The youngster proved he could cover on the outside while providing solid tackling in a dismal secondary. He played in all 16 games and posted 16 tackles, one interception, and five passes defended. With further development this summer, the Jets may have found at least one of their answers at cornerback for 2017.

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Cornerback Nick Marshall was signed during the season to the Jets roster. Marshall went undrafted after the 2015 NFL Draft and was subsequently signed by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He appeared in 13 games for the Jaguars in 2015, producing nine tackles and one pass defended.

Marshall also was used as a returner for the Jaguars, where he averaged 26.6 yards per return. Marshall played quarterback for Auburn before converting to the defensive side of the ball in the NFL. Marshall has nice size, measuring in a 6’1″/206 pounds. His future with the team might be limited to special teams, but as a second-year player, there is room for development.

Cornerback Bryson Keeton also was a rookie for the Jets in 2016. The 6’2″/190-pound corner played his college ball at Montana State University and was signed by the team after last year’s draft. He managed one appearance for the Jets in 2016, posting a single tackle.

Fixing It

Luckily for the Jets, this year’s draft possesses a ton of talent at cornerback. They could choose to use their No. 6 pick to draft the likes of Marlon Humphrey or Marshon Lattimore. If not there is first round talent projected into the second round. Jalen Tabor or Tre’Davious White might also be on their radar. Regardless of who they target, these young players will be significant upgrades for the secondary. With significant depth in this draft, I wouldn’t rule out the team revisiting the position later in the draft as well.

The Jets will also take a look at the free agency market to fill a hole with an experienced corner. With Revis easily on his way out of town, the Jets could benefit by bringing in a mentor to a young developing group.  Among the candidates they may have some interest in are Stephon Gilmore, Logan Ryan, or Trumaine Johnson. While there are plenty of options for the team in free agency, I included these players based on performance and their age. The team needs to get younger at the position, so it only makes sense for them to sign one of the younger free agent corners if they can.

Fixing the Jets secondary will not be an overnight ordeal. General manager Mike Maccagnan, head coach Todd Bowles and new secondary coach Dennard Wilson will need to do their homework. They’ll need to balance a mix of free agent signings with draft picks for it to work.

MUST READ: Jets could take a page from the book of Belichick

Any improvement the Jets can make to the back end of their defense will buy the front seven more opportunities to get to the quarterback. The Jets lack of talent at corner is concerning, but it’s not impossible to fix. A few good choices by Maccagnan could turn things around in 2017 in a hurry.

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