5 NY Jets players NOT named Aaron Rodgers most critical to success in 2023
By Ryan Shafer
2. Jordan Whitehead, S, NY Jets
Another free agent addition, Jordan Whitehead has a lackluster season in 2022 with the Jets, and many believed he could've been a cap casualty ahead of the draft.
However, after failing to add to their safety room outside of Chuck Clark, it appears as though Whitehead will still be the starting safety come Week 1 against the Bills.
Whitehead, a known hard-hitting downhill safety, signed with the Jets on a two-year, $14.5 million contract with the Jets ahead of the 2022 season.
A former Super Bowl-winning safety with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Whitehead seemed to add a level of winning, toughness, and experience to the secondary.
However, his first season with the Jets fell short of expectations. Whitehead is a true strong safety, lacking the speed, quickness, and ball skills to play the middle of the field like a traditional free safety. However, the Jets routinely asked him to do that job.
He missed far too many tackles in space in year one and seemed to blow a multitude of coverages early in the season, especially in the red zone, where zone coverages need to be perfect to take away throwing lanes.
When the Jets added Chuck Clark to the secondary in an early offseason trade, it appeared to signal the end of Whitehead’s time with the Jets as both he and Clark have the same skillset, but Clark does it better. It appears though that the plan might be to use them both in different packages and hope Whitehead improves in coverage this year.
If Whitehead can take that jump and improve both his tackling and coverage, the Jets will boast the league’s best secondary, bolstered by the depth at cornerback with Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, and Michael Carter II.
However, if Whitehead struggles again, look for a lot of teams to beat the Jets down the middle of the field and deep, a problem that they need to avoid.