Secondary faces big challenges this summer
By Paul Newbold
The secondary of the New York Jets have gone through a major makeover but it remains to be seen if they’ll be able to overcome the challenges that await at the start of training camp.
The New York Jets secondary faces big challenges this summer when training camp opens. The cast has changed dramatically from last season and the biggest challenge will be getting this group to play as a cohesive unit early.
The challenge falls primarily on Jets’ defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson. Wilson will need to teach these defensive backs the Todd Bowles defense, get them in sync with each other and teach proper technique. His pupils are young and virtually inexperienced at the NFL level. It’s a job that must get done early if the team is to have success in 2017.
Maybe the biggest challenge will be at the safety position. Gone from last year are both starting safeties, and in their place, the team has two rookies set to step in. General manager Mike Maccagnan made Jamal Adams his first round pick and then followed with Marcus Maye in the second round. Both are very talented football players, but the responsibilities they are being asked to handle in their first year are huge.
Adams has shown very well through spring practices, by most reports he has come to the team as advertised. Maye was recovering from injury through organized team activities and his reps were limited. Camp will challenge both players as they adjust to a new system and stronger players at the NFL level. Communication starts with the safeties setting the defensive schemes. It’s vital that Dennard gets these youngsters communicating and that they are on the same page.
On the outside at corner, comes another challenge, finding the right personnel to get the job done. Morris Claiborne was brought in to lock down one slot on the outside, but his health has to be concerning. On the other side, there will be a ton of competition. Buster Skrine returns for another season, but he spends time in the slot when the team plays nickel. Ideally, the team can develop one of the youngsters to handle the duties opposite Claiborne.
Marcus Williams has flashed talent at times, but his consistency is worrisome. Darryl Roberts and Juston Burris showed well last season, but the sample size is small to this point for a full evaluation. Dennard will need to get the youngsters as many reps as possible this summer to meet the team’s need.
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The Jets also added two cornerbacks late in the draft, taking Jeremy Clark and Derrick Jones both in the sixth round.
There is potential for the pair, but they have to be considered long shots to make any sort of impact this year. They will see more reps with the third stringers this summer, but their development might prove crucial for the future.
The challenge for the team is to improve on a dismal year from a year ago. The Jets secondary was full of holes last year, and they can’t have a repeat performance if they want to be successful. The defensive front is talented, but this secondary will need to buy them time to get to the quarterback.
The personnel is here, and they carry with them a large potential for solid play. Training camp is where it starts, communication, positioning, technique, all must be worked on. The preseason will be telling as when the pads go on, this secondary will need to be ready. Much of the Jets defensive success hinges on it. The challenge must be met.