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Monday, May 28, 2018

Jets Secondary May Be Best Since 2010

Ok Jet fans, it’s trivia time.
Joe Namath is turning 75 this week. Who is the oldest living former Jet player who played in at least one game as a NY Jet (or NY Titan)? Answer at the end of article.

In 2010 the Jets went 11-5 beating the Colts and the Patriots in the playoffs before losing to the Pittsburgh Steelers 24-19. That season was the last time the Jets made the playoffs and  according to 
Pro-Football reference the Jets were 6th in the league in team defense. The secondary had some excellent athletes who did a stellar job throughout the season. Future HOF Darrelle Revis led the way supported by cornerback Dwight Lowery and safeties Jim Leonhard and Kerry Rhodes. They had some depth on the bench with Eric Smith and James Ihedigbo among others. The 2018 Jets secondary may be the best since that year. Though there is no Darrelle Revis who was playing at or near the peak of his ability, the secondary will be vastly improved from 2017 with the combination of additional personnel and a pair of safeties who both have their rookie year under their belt. In today’s NFL a team’s secondary is dependent on the team’s pass rush. Without a pure edge pass rusher the Jets may lack what it takes up front. However, looking at the present secondary the starting talent is above average with a chance to be very good though not elite. Safety Jamal Adams is the best of the group. Coming off a good (not great) rookie year, Adams is overflowing with talent and attitude and will be better this year. He has said he wants to be more vocal and like another coach on the field. He showed some incredible ability last year but needs to be more consistent. Safety Marcus Maye had 57 tackles, two interceptions and a forced fumble while playing 95 percent of the defensive snaps as a rookie. He is coming off ankle surgery and should be ready to go.  Cornerback Truman Johnson was the big free agent signing for the Jets. Johnson is a good player with a nose for the football who had seven interceptions in 2015. He has only had three in the last two years. While some think the Jets overpaid for Johnson who is ranked by Pro Football Focus as only the 68th best cornerback in the NFL, he is still only twenty eight years old. Hopefully the change of scenery helps his production. The other cornerback, Morris Claiborne is something of an enigma. He was asked to cover the number one receiver last year and was very inconsistent. He had some solid games but covering the number two receiver this year should help. Knowing Todd Bowles the Jets will be doing a lot of scheming with blitzes especially without any premier pass rusher. Like Rex Ryan before him, Bowles loves carrying extra secondary personnel. The Jets right now have a slew of them including Buster Skrine who literally killed the Jets defense last year extending drives for the opposition either by bad coverage or penalties. He did put three solid games together in a row in December but I would say the clock is ticking on his Jet career. Two players who I like for depth are safety Doug Middleton who showed a lot in the 2016 preseason. He had an injury last year and his status with the Jets is uncertain but he looks like he can play-to be honest he is listed on the Jets roster but I don’t even know if that is official. We have written about rookie CB Parry Nickerson in depth. Pro Football Focus had Nickerson ranked as the 55th best player in the draft which means he should have gone in the second round. The Jets got him in the sixth round. I’d be very surprised if he is not the starting nickel back or even is competition with Claiborne for the second cornerback position by the end of the season. There is some dead weight with players like Rashard Robinson, Darryl Roberts and maybe even third year player Juston Burris who has been a major disappointment. Safety Rontez Miles is serviceable and is good on special teams. All in all the secondary should be improved in 2018.  

Jets OTA’s Start
The first set of OTA’s started and went from May 22-24. They will continue and run from May 29-31 ending with the required team mini camp going from June 4-7. Teddy Bridgewater was the standout in the first round. He looked sharp with his passes and was extremely fluid on his roll outs. He has shown a great attitude knowing the Jets long term quarterback plan and is trying to take advantage of every opportunity given. What is worrisome to me is that Minnesota Viking coach Mike Zimmer is one of the smartest in the NFL. I cannot believe if there was any possibility that Teddy Bridgewater could ever get back to near the level he was playing, Zimmer would let him go. Nevertheless an abundant of quarterbacks is one problem the Jets have never had and this should even be welcomed. The allotment of repetitions moving forward is something Jets have to monitor closely. Sam Darnold has got to get the most reps…..Competition for special teams returning the ball is high. This will continue through training camp. The Jets on Day 1 of OTAs had Trenton Cannon, Eli McGuire, and Andre Roberts working on punt returns. Those guys will all be in the mix this summer. Ditto for Lucky Whitehead, who didn't practice on Day 1 of OTAs because of an injury…..Who’s at center?
On Day 1 of OTAs, Jonotthan Harrison (the returning backup center) was ahead of Travis Swanson in the pecking order, as Spencer Long (quadriceps surgery) sat out practice. Don't expect to see Long in spring practices, at least not in team periods…..Terrelle Pryor, Quincy Enunwa, Jordan Leggett, Chris Herndon and Marcus Maye were either limited or did not practice…..Inevitable that Christian Hackenberg is a former Jet. The organization had to cut ties with him. Unfortunately he joins that long list of draft busts that include Blair Thomas, Vernon Gholston, Calvin Pryor, Jace Amaro, Dee Milliner, Quinton Coples, Stephen Hill and Kyle Wilson among others….

What The Jet Scribes Are Saying
Rich Cimini, ESPN
It's still early -- very early -- but one player in particular has generated a legitimate buzz at One Jets Drive -- quarterback Teddy Bridgewater.The organization couldn't be happier with Bridgewater, one of the bright spots in Week 1 of OTA practices. Not only did he perform well in the first practice, open to the media, but he maintained it throughout the week. While it's too soon to wage a "Teddy-should-be-starting" campaign -- his surgically repaired knee won't be truly tested until he gets hit in a preseason game -- it creates some interesting options for the Jets……Behind the scenes, the former Minnesota Vikings starter has impressed his new teammates with his football acumen and mental toughness -- specifically, the manner in which he's fighting back from a horrific knee injury that jeopardized his career in 2016. 

"For him to keep his optimism and continue to battle, I respect the s--- out of that," wide receiver Jermaine Kearse said. "Can't have nothing but respect for that."

For the first time in a long time, the Jets believe they have short- and long-term answers at quarterback. I'm really curious to see how Bowles divides the preseason game reps, because we all know it's really hard to conduct a three-way competition while preparing the offense for the regular season. It will be quite a juggling act.

Manish Mehta, New York Daily News
Jamal Adams is a ball of energy, excitement and confidence. His passion is contagious. He isn't shy about letting us know that greatness awaits sooner than you think. Six months after the Jets safety tweeted that he will never miss another Pro Bowl, the second-year starter looks at you as if you had two heads when asked why he'd make such a bold public proclamation that could wind up on @OldTakesExposed…..Adams has the skill set to make it happen. Todd Bowles and defensive coordinator Kacy Rodgers moved him around everywhere in their scheme. He finished with 83 tackles, six pass deflections and two sacks. Most impressively, he missed only 15 out of the 1,116 snaps. In other words, the coaches trusted him. Adams was tied with Miami's Reshad Jones for most run stops among safeties (26), according to Pro Football Focus. He led all safeties with run tackles for gains of five or fewer yards (28). Adams takes pride studying Earl Thomas' adeptness in the middle of the field, Tyrann Mathieu and former greats Troy Polamalu, Ed Reed, Brian Dawkins and Sean Taylor.

"I try to steal bits and pieces of their games to add to mine," Adams said. "But at the end of the day, I got to go out there and execute."

He'll have to improve his eye discipline in pass coverage to take the next step in his development. Looking at the wrong spots and/or wandering eyes got him in trouble last season. He's still looking for his first career interception.

Brian Costello, New York Post
Avery Williamson has not gotten his cable hooked up yet, so he was a little behind on the news when a Jets employee approached him last week. The Jets staffer told the Jets linebacker about the horrific bus crash in Mount Olive, N.J., that resulted in two deaths and 43 injured. He asked Williamson if he would visit some of those who were recovering at Morristown Medical Center, which is near the Jets’ training center in Florham Park. Williamson immediately said yes and spent part of his Saturday visiting with the students of Paramus East Brook Middle School who were on the bus and their parents.

“It was emotional talking to those parents,” Williamson said. “It was one of those things you say yes to but you don’t know how deeply it’s going to affect you and how touching it will be. It was special. I want to go back to check up on those kids.”

Williamson joined the Jets in March, when he signed as a free agent. He is still in the process of moving to New Jersey and getting accustomed to his new team and home. Still, he probably made some fans already with his visit to the hospital. Williamson does not have children of his own, but he empathized with what the families were going through.

“I couldn’t imagine that. That’s tough,” he said. “I was thinking about my little cousins. That would be tough to see them like that. My heart goes out to them. I told them I am keeping them in my prayers and I hope everything goes smoothly.”

As Williamson is already having an impact off the field, he is still feeling his way with the Jets on the field. The team signed him to a three-year, $22.5 million contract in March to be its new inside linebacker. He spent the first four years of his career with the Titans. Williamson was on the field this week for the start of the Jets’ OTA practices, continuing his adjustment.

“It’s been solid,” Williamson said. “It’s tough moving and getting your living situation set, new teammates, new playbook, everything’s new. But so far it’s been good. Everybody has been supportive and helped out as much as possible. The organization has made it a smoother process than I thought.”

Williamson showed he was a sure tackler and smart player with the Titans. The Jets targeted him to replace Demario Davis, whom they let walk in free agency. They hope Williamson can fill the role David Harris occupied for so many years in the middle of the Jets defense.

Green Tidbits
…..Whether you agree with Christopher Johnson or not about the National Anthem controversy, this guy seems much more with it and engaging than his brother Woody…..Feel old? you will now. Joe Namath turns 75 years old this week. Happy birthday Joe!…..Jordan Palmer is a quarterback consultant who trained Sam Darnold for three months this spring in Southern California. “So he’s in really good hands to be able to learn that and honestly learn behind Josh McCown because I think Josh does a great job of buying time and buying space and he does that through experience and athleticism. Sam is in such a good spot to learn all those things and kind of foster that part of his game.”…..The Jets have signed rookie free agent wide receiver Jonah Trinnaman. Trinnaman (6'0", 190), the former Brigham Young University wideout, was first signed as an undrafted free agent by Arizona right after the 2018 NFL Draft, then was waived two weeks later. Chicago was among NFL teams that showed initial interest in him before the draft…..Something about back-up center Jonotthan Harrison I have always liked. He is constantly aggressive when he is on the field. With 3 centers now signed, I’d hate to let him go. Can we be creative and maybe try him on the other side of the line?…..

Around The AFC East
Buffalo Bills
…..In an interview with the Buffalo News this week, Bills co-owner Kim Pegula sounded a doubtful note about the chances of building a new stadium in Buffalo. Pegula noted the high cost of building a stadium, the lack of desire from fans to buy personal seat licenses, the lack of desire from public officials to fund a stadium and the money spent to buy the team as reasons for that pessimistic take. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz responded to Pegula’s comments on Thursday…..Bills wide receiver Zay Jones underwent knee surgery, head coach Sean McDermott told reporters. Jones will miss the remainder of the offseason program, but the good news is that the team believes he’ll be good to go in time for the start of the regular season.The Bills are certainly hoping that Jones will be healthy come September given their lack of depth at wide   

Miami Dolphins
……The Dolphins have added some depth to their offensive line. The Dolphins announced that they’ve signed center Mike Matthews. The 6-foot-2, 290-pound lineman will participate in the team’s offseason program, and he could end up sticking around for training camp later this summer. The 24-year-old will be looking to finally earn an opening-day roster spot, as he’s bounced around the NFL since going undrafted out of Texas A&M in 2016. He had a brief stint with the Browns, and he spent the entire 2017 campaign with the Steelers. However, Matthews never saw the field for Pittsburgh, as a torn patellar tendon ended his season early…..The Dolphins made a number of moves this offseason, and Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald writes that the team was focused on improving the locker-room culture. The front office deliberately pursued team-first players who would “buy in, be diligent about studying and preparation, and do things the way the staff wanted…..Former Dolphin free agent quarterback Matt Moore is willing to wait for the right deal. The former Dolphins signal caller had conversations with the Chiefs and Texans earlier this offseason, but is now considering waiting until after the season begins to sign anywhere, Jeremy Fowler of (on Twitter) hears. 

New England Patriots
…..The Patriots and tight end Rob Gronkowski‘s contract discussions have progressed to the point where it’s now “likely” Gronkowski will play the 2018 campaign with a new deal in place, according to Jeff Howe of The Athletic…..Despite these circumstances centering around one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history, Bill Belichick still opted for a time-honored cliche. Asked if he’s spoken to Tom Brady, the 19th-year Patriots coach said via Adam Schefter of (on Twitter), “I’m not going to talk about the people that aren’t here. The guys who are here are improving, they’re working hard. Those are the guys we’re going to focus on.” Brady remains absent from OTAs, and the 19th-year quarterback is rumored to want a revised contract. With Josh McDaniels spurning the Colts and remaining in place as OC, New England’s system likely will not change much, lessening the impact of Brady missing these voluntary workouts…..Adrian Clayborn, the Patriots‘ top free agent acquisition this offseason, tweaked his quad during recent workouts, per Reiss. Clayborn could be limited for Phase 3 of OTAs, but he is expected to be ready for the start of training camp.

Trivia Answer:
Former NY Jet head coach Walt Michaels played one game at linebacker for the Jets in 1963. Walt was born October 16, 1929 making him 88 years old.

Unofficially, former NY Titan and Jet Bill Mathis may be the second oldest at 79 years old. One of my favorites, this former Clemson Tiger played from 1960-69 all for NY and was an AFL All Star in 1961 and 1963.

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