New York Jets Secondary Must Rely On Pryor
By Nick Mamary
New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan prides himself on his defensive tactics. This is a given. Through five full seasons with Gang Green, this unit has shown the ability to be dominant at times. In 2009, they ranked first in total yards allowed and were pretty solid in all aspects. Pass rush, probably, was a weak area, if I am going to nitpick. Finishing off sacks offered a lingering problem those first two years. The emergence of defensive end Muhammad Wilkerson has helped with this problem. But with one problem solved, the team’s issues has to be cleaned up.
Two years ago offered a formidable pair with safeties Laron Landry and Yeremiah Bell. These two were solid veterans who were good at defending the pass and could also make tackles. Fast forward to this season and, like last year, there looks to be a lot of youth. Antonio Allen shows promise and so does Josh Bush. Laron’s brother Dawan Landry adds a veteran presence. As a whole though, this group brings much mystery. If you went around the NFL, each team most likely has at least one question mark and for the Jets, it would be their corners.
Kyle Wilson’s career so far does not justify a 2010 first-round selection. Many of his contributions get wiped out by penalties or blown coverage. Discipline is clearly lacking with this individual’s game. I have already mentioned how the team’s signing of Dimitri Patterson seems like an abject failure.Ellis Lanksterand Darrin Walls provide depth, but should not see the field on a consistent basis. So, pass coverage, given the injuries to Dee Milliner and a likely season-ending ACL tear of third-round pick Dexter McDougale, paints a pretty bleak picture.
All of these issues put more pressure on first-round pick Calvin Pryor. The safety’s reputation as a hard-hitter should come in handy on this defense that could use an enforcer. Ryan, of course, has seen this type before with future Hall-of-Famer Ed Reed from his time as Baltimore Ravens’ defensive coordinator. Their defensive line has so much talent in Muhammad Wilkerson, Quinton Coples, Damon Harrison, and Sheldon Richardson. With this being said, the line will need to pressure opposing quarterbacks relentlessly to take the pressure off of the secondary. Many fans are aware that strength of schedule does not favor New York. One major reason is that many upper-tier QBs will be facing off against this questionable group.
Their second preseason game looked just as shaky for the Jets starting secondary. Cincinnati Bengals QB Andy Dalton completed all eight of his passes for 144 yards and one touchdown. Even short underneath passes caused trouble. A 43-yard bomb to Mohamed Sanu shows a bigger issue. As the football floated, defenders simply looked confused.
Pryor, who recovered from a recent concussion, made his NFL debut on Saturday. His presence was felt as he forced two fumbles and deflected a pass. One special teams tackle also showed versatility. After his veteran teammates faltered so profoundly, the rookie’s solid performance becomes that much more important. Defending backups made the Jets look decent in pass coverage. This should be seen as a mirage though and much more improvement must take place. However, Pryor looks to be a bright spot going forward.