4 NY Jets who must step up following the Chuck Clark injury

NY Jets, Jordan Whitehead
NY Jets, Jordan Whitehead / Cooper Neill/GettyImages
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3. Jordan Whitehead, S, NY Jets

This one is rather obvious, but it still needs to be said. The Jets need Jordan Whitehead to be better in 2023 — it's that simple.

Signed to a two-year, $14.5 million contract last offseason, Whitehead came over from the Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers and was expected to provide a physical presence in the Jets' secondary.

Whitehead had his moments, but the former Pittsburgh standout was ultimately too inconsistent.

His 15.6 percent missed-tackle rate was tied for fourth among safeties to play at least 80 percent of their team's defensive snaps. Meanwhile, his Pro Football Focus run-defense grade ranked 59th out of 82 qualified safeties.

Whitehead fared a little better in coverage, but his inconsistent run defense and tackling were significant detriments last season. That's where the Jets hoped Clark would step in.

Clark has been one of the NFL's best tackling safeties over the last few seasons. He missed just 6.4 percent of his tackles last year, a figure that ranked sixth-best among qualifiers.

Unfortunately, with Clark now out for the season, the Jets really need Whitehead to become a more consistent run defender. The Jets can't afford to have their safeties struggle to make tackles in open space on a consistent basis.

The Jets may have signed Adrian Amos to replace Chuck Clark, but he's not the only safety on the roster being tasked with picking up the slack. Whitehead needs to do his part too.