BGA: Defensive Backs – Reed between the lines

So, I’ve been waiting at least 10 years to see Ed Reed in a Jets jersey. Maybe it’s not all it’s cracked up to be if the secondary is going to give up a 121.9 QB rating to a rookie quarterback, leading to a 23-point blowout.

While you can’t blame Reed for much, if any, of the success the Bills had, it was arguably a boneheaded decision to get him to start and play the whole game when the other safeties had been performing perfectly adequately. What this seemed to achieve was to remove the advantage the Jets had with two weeks to prepare coming off their bye week and instead made their defense slightly vulnerable.

Maybe it only affected a handful of plays, but when those plays could be momentum-changing third down stops, you’re adversely affecting your chances of winning. On one play, Antonio Cromartie was talking to Reed and pointing out where he should be at the snap and the Bills quick-snapped and threw an immediate pass to his man for an easy first down. On another, Reed ran deep when he perhaps should have picked up an intermediate route, which led to a receiver being uncovered and the Jets got lucky that EJ Manuel missed Scott Chandler with his pass. Cromartie was – not for the first time this year – visibly frustrated with some of his teammates following what he obviously saw as coverage breakdowns caused by them. Of course Ed Reed is a legend, but throwing him in there when it was obvious he perhaps wasn’t 100% ready was never going to fix those issues, just add to it.

Reed actually looked good, coming up to make a tackle in the backfield and assisting on another run stop in run support. As expected, the Bills never threw the ball in his direction and the only time he had a negative play was when he missed a tackle down the field. However, it seems very unfair that Antonio Allen should be relegated to being the backup slot corner and playing just three snaps.

Allen was targeted on two of those snaps as well, giving up two first downs. Perhaps that wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been forced to enter the game cold on those plays.

The other key issue is that Rex Ryan said that Dee Milliner will start next week and “played extremely well, except for the deep ball”. The obvious question in response to that is “which one?” but then again perhaps he’s referring to “the deep ball” as some kind of abstract concept. Yes, Milliner lost sight of an underthrown and basically up-for-grabs ball for the first touchdown and later got burned for another big gain over the top. However, to be fair to Milliner, he is making progress. For the first month of the season, he basically had one positive play – the Edelman “fumble” – but in this game he had three tackles close to the line of scrimmage (one for a loss) and broke up a pass (although it did look like he made contact with the receiver before the ball arrived). On the other hand, he was too far off his man on two easy first down catches and did miss a tackle after a screen pass, so he was up and down. I still think Darrin Walls and Ellis Lankster (no snaps between them) would be more consistent, but Milliner is gradually improving. The Jets can’t afford for him to get burned a couple of times per game though.

Cromartie blotted his copybook by getting burned for a touchdown late, but other than that had played well. He broke up two passes – one of which should have been a pick six which would have made it 27-14 late in the third quarter and maybe got the Jets back in the game. He also was as active as I’ve ever seen him in run support, getting in on several plays near the line and laying some lumber. The Jets can’t afford for Cromartie to be good “on balance” though. Injured or not, he’s been burned so many times this season that it’s probably cost him $50m already.

The other starter, Dawan Landry, was active in run support too, but had a quiet day in coverage. He gave up two short catches.

Finally, Kyle Wilson and Jaiquawn Jarrett combined for just 16 snaps. Wilson gave up one short catch and was almost beaten for a touchdown but got away with it because of an errant throw. Jarrett’s best play saw him finish off a receiver in the backfield after they’d been slowed up in the flat.

Up next…special teams, including Nick Folk’s first miss of the year.