The NY Jets ranked dead last in defense last season, so the only way to go is up. Major changes were made to two of the three levels of that side of the ball this offseason with additions to the defensive line and the secondary.
There is hope that with a year under their belts, younger players will elevate their games for the 2022 season. Head coach Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich will be looking to show that last year was simply a case of a new system taking time to implement.
With the key pieces added to the defensive line and secondary through the draft and free agency, Jordan Whitehead stands out amongst the rest as a clear difference-maker that could become a leader for a much-improved unit in the NFL.
Whitehead brings a lot to this organization both on and off the field. From an intangibles standpoint, his experience on a super bowl winning team in Tampa Bay will go a long way.
He played with great leaders from Tom Brady to Devin White and was able to take a leadership role there in the secondary despite still being a young player.
The former fourth-round pick now steps into a roster that is in need of leadership that can be backed up by having the knowledge of what is takes to win.
What does Jordan Whitehead offer the NY Jets?
On the field, Whitehead will make an immediate impact to improve the porous run defense that fans had to endure last year. His play in the middle of the field can compensate for potential holes at linebacker which is the weakest group on the defense.
Whitehead will unquestionably be the best safety on the roster and can set the tone for the position group. As one of the hardest-hitting safeties in the league, the "tone-setter" label is one that he will wear proudly for this team
Regardless of how things ended with Jamal Adams, it was always enjoyable to watch a player who could anticipate plays well and deliver blows to skill players on the offense. Whitehead can now fill that role for the team.
Whitehead mentioned Adams as someone who he studied and it is telling as their games are somewhat similar to this point of their careers. Pro Football Focus does, however, have the new Jet above the former one in their 2022 ranking of box strong safeties.
The labeling of a "box safety" is a point that Whitehead may be trying to change this season. With the Bucs, he was frustrated with being asked to come off the field for passing situations. This could be one of the reasons he elected to join a new team.
It will be interesting to see how Whitehead does if the Jets do choose to have him on the field more than his former team allowed. Although the safety does have interesting stats against man coverage, if he can show that he is able to cover tight ends well enough, he could rise up the ranking of all-around safeties in the league.
An interesting wrinkle with the former Buccaneer joining the team is his connection to Jets legend Darrelle Revis. They are cousins, and Whitehead even recounted being at the watch party when Revis was drafted. This is yet another reason why Whitehead should quickly become a fan favorite.
The Jets talked about the importance of bringing in youthful experience, and no addition to the team epitomizes that better than Jordan Whitehead.
With his leadership, ability to defend the run, and potential to take another step toward becoming a top-tier, well-rounded safety, he could blossom in his first year with the Jets.
You can hear more about Whitehead's journey to the franchise and what he's most excited about in his Official Jets Podcast interview.