Cornerback Buster Skrine finds himself in a position where he may be looked upon as a leader on the New York Jets, given the departures on the defensive side of the football.
After having some of the best secondary play in the league for nearly a decade – thanks to the consistency of Darrelle Revis – the bottom fell out for this unit during the 2016 season. The New York Jets will be looking to create a new identity within the secondary, which gives an opportunity to guys like Buster Skrine to carve out a new role, or an increased emphasis on their current one.
At 28-years-old, Skrine is now the elder statesman of the secondary, and one of the elder statesman on defense overall. Whether he is starting, playing the nickel corner, or a second-stringer, he will be looked upon to provide an example to a group of unproven and inexperienced cornerbacks.
2016 SEASON REVIEW
2016 was Skrine’s third year with the Jets and the first year in which he did not play all 16 games in his six seasons as a pro. However, Skrine still ranked 5th in solo tackles and was tied with Revis for most passes defended. Neither Revis nor Skrine had a year to write home about, so rankings on a defense that struggled means very little.
The secondary suddenly became one of the Jets’ biggest weaknesses in 2016, and that’s saying a lot given a number of weaknesses this team had. Skrine was put in a lot of situations where he had to cover a receiver on the outside, which is not what the Jets are paying him to do. Of course, the Jets’ cornerback situation has changed a little bit since when he first joined the team.
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2017 SEASON OUTLOOK
In a perfect Jets’ world, Skrine would not be covering an outside receiver. The Jets need to stick him in the nickel package situations and not have to think twice about it. Teams run a lot of 3-4 wide receiver sets in today’s NFL, so Skrine’s role is still very important.
The Jets need Marcus Williams and/or Juston Burris to take on the second outside cornerback position alongside newcomer Morris Claiborne. This will leave Skrine free to hone his craft as a top-end nickel cornerback.
If the Jets can figure out how to utilize the young guns in the secondary properly, having Skrine as their nickel cornerback safety net could be huge for maintaining the stability of the unit. Needless to say, when you have to face Tom Brady (twice), Drew Brees, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, Philip Rivers, and Derek Carr all in one season, you must have your cornerback situation figured out. Skrine’s ability to provide stability will be a big factor in their success or lack thereof.
TRAINING CAMP PREDICTION
If anything, expect some more coverage of Skrine in the press leading up to the season. Skrine has launched Skrine Pro Speed, seeking to be a leader in utilizing fitness to enhance performance. A quote that is featured prominently on Skrine Pro Speed’s website is a line by Herschel Walker, which reads, “If you train hard, you’ll not only be hard, you’ll be hard to beat”.
The Jets should have this quote posted somewhere in the halls at One Jets Drive, as it should be a mantra for this team going forward. If Skrine follows it and leads by example, he could be a rallying figure for an upstart Jets team. Needless to say, Skrine will easily make the final 53-man roster and be a starting cornerback come Week 1.