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New York Jets: Trumaine Johnson must have a bounce-back year in 2019

EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 23: Trumaine Johnson #22 of the New York Jets reacts after being called for pass interference during overtime against the Green Bay Packers at MetLife Stadium on December 23, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Packers defeated the Jets 44-38. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
EAST RUTHERFORD, NEW JERSEY - DECEMBER 23: Trumaine Johnson #22 of the New York Jets reacts after being called for pass interference during overtime against the Green Bay Packers at MetLife Stadium on December 23, 2018 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The Packers defeated the Jets 44-38. (Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images)
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With the 2019 NFL season fast approaching, it’s vital that the New York Jets receive a bounce-back year from cornerback Trumaine Johnson.

When the New York Jets signed Trumaine Johnson to a five-year $72.5 million contract prior to the start of the 2018 season, the organization had hoped that the University of Montana product could be the true No. 1 corner that the team was looking for.

Unfortunately, that did not turn out to be the case.

Despite showing signs that he could indeed perform at that high level in recent years, Johnson had a down year, to say the least. Aside from dealing with injuries that forced him to miss multiple games, Johnson totaled only 40 tackles, one forced fumble, and four interceptions.

With the 2019 season now fast approaching, however, it’s become clear that the Jets can’t afford another lackluster season out of Johnson, specifically because the secondary as a whole seems to be somewhat of a concern for the green and white.

In 2018, the Jets defense was expected to be the team’s strong point. That didn’t exactly play out in the way that the team had hoped, though the unit was addressed in various ways throughout the offseason.

For example, well-respected defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was brought in as were notable additions linebacker CJ Mosley and defensive lineman Quinnen Williams, who was drafted in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Henry Anderson was also re-signed.

Surprisingly, however, now-former general manager Mike Maccagnan elected not to address the secondary. As noted by The Jet Press co Site-Expert Paul A. Esden Jr., the Jets currently have 12 cornerbacks under contract on the 90-man roster. Six of those 12 cornerbacks, however, have been in the NFL for less than two years. That in and of itself is enough to draw a bit of concern.

Playing opposite Johnson will be 28-year-old Darryl Roberts. While he has reportedly been making noise in training camp, he isn’t necessarily known as an elite level defensive back. In addition, the Jets brought in former Atalanta Falcons cornerback Brian Poole, who will be expected to man the slot.

Ultimately, however, Johnson’s play will be vital to not only the success of the secondary but to the success of the team as a whole. Should he play up to expectations, Johnson has the ability to elevate the play of the entire unit. If he puts together another down year though, the Jets could be in trouble as there simply isn’t much to rely on behind him.

Luckily for the Jets, a bounce-back year from Johnson is quite possible, especially given his history with coach Williams. The two spent time together in the Los Angeles Rams organization not too long ago and that’s actually where Johnson played his best football.

In 2015, for example, Johnson totaled 71 tackles and seven interceptions under Williams, which serves as his best year to date. He then racked up 57 tackles and 65 tackles in 2016 and 2017, respectively.

According to the cornerback, that type of production could certainly be repeated with the duo now reunited:

“Years of experience,” Johnson said via The Jets Wire when asked what makes the duo tick. “He knows my playing style and I know his coaching style. I know what he expects and I’m going to do everything he expects out of me.”

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For the Jets sake, that needs to be the case. Overall, the team has added some new and intriguing pieces and the future appears to be bright. For the defense specifically, that also appears to be the truth, but that will require the secondary to hold up as well. And if Johnson can’t return to top form, that task will become even harder then some are expecting it to be.

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