4. The NY Jets secondary
It’s hard to pick out one player, but the group of young Jets cornerbacks have stood out and made a surprising impression in the opening games of the 2021 season.
Having finished 29th against the pass in 2020 and losing Brian Poole (ranked 13th best cornerback over the past two seasons by PFF) to free agency before surprisingly cutting Blessuan Austin, there were concerns going into 2021 that the Jets were looking vulnerable in the secondary.
But coupled with an equally decent start from star safety Marcus Maye, the Jets now look reasonably solid in the defensive backfield.
The team’s young cornerbacks got a lot of attention in the run-up to the season for their inexperience, but head coach Robert Saleh admitted that he was “not surprised” to see them start the season in impressive fashion.
Bryce Hall has continued to look very solid and hasn’t let anything through on the outside, while fellow second-year Javelin Guidry too has also impressed.
Most notably, rookies Brandin Echols and Michael Carter II have held their own surprising well so early into their NFL careers, putting in the highest grades for any of the Jets cornerback group against the Patriots, scoring 65.8 and 70.0 respectively via Pro Football Focus.
Their work has certainly caught the eye of C.J. Mosley, who said that the new corners have “been working, battling, and going against each other and going against the offense just giving it their all."
He continued by crediting them for “being great tacklers,” adding that “a lot of corners and defensive backs in this league that might shy away from the tackle, shy away from the hit. Our guys are trying to get after it every time.”
There is still a lot of work to do but through the work of Saleh, defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich, and their staff, this has been a good start for the Jets secondary.