It is no secret that the NY Jets coaching staff wasn't completely satisfied with Bryce Hall as a starting cornerback. They handed former Seahawks cornerback D.J. Reed a $33 million deal, and invested a premium asset at the position, obtaining Sauce Gardner with the fourth pick in this year's draft.
The secondary was a weakness last year and while there were some thoughts that cornerback would not be a priority this offseason, Joe Douglas and his front office proved this false.
Hall has often been a disputed subject among the Jets' fanbase. After the Reed signing and before the draft in April, there were claims that the starting cornerbacks on the outside would be Reed and Bryce Hall.
Following the Gardner addition, however, Hall was subsequently seen as competing with Brandin Echols for the CB3/CB4 position on the depth chart.
He is a disputed member of this roster. At times he seems to be getting too much and too little credit from certain areas of the fanbase and media.
The most recent event which raised a lot of Bryce Hall chatter was the preseason game against the Atlanta Falcons. This was a game in which Hall's hopes of competing for a starting spot were all but ended.
During the game, Hall's outing involved some poor coverage allowing a 52-yard reception to Kyle Pitts and also being firmly beaten by Olamide Zaccheaus one-on-one to allow a touchdown in the red zone.
The painful night didn't end there for Hall as he did not covet himself in glory with his tackling and was also called for a holding penalty. Preseason games often generate reaction from the fans and media alike, and this was no exception. This performance triggered heavy criticism of Hall, all varying in levels of extremity.
Despite this game and splashes of poor cornerback play from Hall's tape last year, he remains a very valuable asset to this Jets' roster.
Why Bryce Hall is still valuable to the NY Jets
A criticism Hall faced last year was that he was often targeted due to his lack of ball skills. He is working hard, however, on this apparent weakness in his game.
I recently attended a Jets practice and Hall stayed behind after the session had finished, working with a coach and having a machine fire balls at him at all heights and angles.
This attitude compliments the Saleh philosophy, and even after the Falcons game, Hall was calm and measured in his response to a poor performance saying that he was aiming for an interception but messed up his timings. '’I'm so glad it happened on this stage. I’m learning and I feel like I’m gonna be so much better from those (mistakes)," Hall said.
This answer is both promising and mature, a player valuing poor performances like this is exactly what this coaching staff and fans for that matter will want to see. Despite only being drafted in 2020, Hall is one of the longer-tenured Jets.
Before looking at why his statistical and production value with the Jets is a good addition to the roster, it appears that when it comes to attitude and mentality, Hall is most certainly in the right place, which highlights why he remains a core piece of New York's secondary.
Hall will partner with Brandin Echols this season as the primary depth at the cornerback position. The reaction to the mistakes in the Falcons game made it seem like Hall was the CB1, and he has been at points during his time with the Jets.
But that role is no longer for him and his errors should not be critiqued as if he is the team's CB1. Instead, Hall should start being appreciated for what he is as a Jet, and that is solid and reliable depth.
In 2021, Hall had some stats which added to his resume. He was tied for the NFL lead in passes defended along with the likes of A.J. Terrell and Jalen Ramsey with 16.
This is undoubtedly an impressive stat, to be putting up numbers comparable to two top NFL cornerbacks is something that every team would want for a starter let alone their CB3/4.
However, looking at this, it can be put into some context that makes this stat a tad less impressive, and that is the fact that Hall was targeted 93 times last season, tied for the eighth most targets in the league.
This suggests the validity of the reports that Hall was targeted due to his poor ball skills, minimizing offenses' interception chances, and prompting the Jets to look for new starting corners.
Looking at the above metric, it is interesting to see that Hall was a very effective cornerback when it came to forced incompletion percentage. Finishing only behind Terrell is some feat, but putting this into a broader context, the interception rate is hideously low considering the incompletions he forced.
Despite this, it is clear that the former Virginia standout is still a completely respectable depth cornerback who can take starting reps and hold his own for this defense.
Although he's had some shaky moments over his first few years in the NFL, Bryce Hall should not be disregarded as a valuable piece to the strength of this roster.