Jets training camp preview: Defensive backs

We will be providing position-by-position breakdowns leading up to Jets training camp this Thursday.  For now, we focus on the defensive backs.

Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.com

On the roster: Antonio Allen, Josh Bush, Brandon Dixon, Ras-I Dowling, Brandin Hardin, Jaiquawn Jarrett, Dawan Landry, Ellis Lankster, Dexter McDougle, Rontez Miles, Dee Milliner, Johnny Patrick, Calvin Pryor, Jeremy Reeves, Lowell Rose, Dimitri Patterson, Darrin Walls, Kyle Wilson

Notable losses: Antonio Cromartie, Ed Reed, Isaiah Trufant

Calvin Pryor2013 notes: At the outset of the season, the Jets looked set to soldier on in their first year without Darrelle Revis.  The team had drafted Dee Milliner to slide into the CB2 spot while Antonio Cromartie took the familiar top corner spot he was used to from 2012 and filled to great effect.  Unfortunately, Cromartie was injured during the season and played most of the season with a bad hip and it showed.  His trademark speed wasn’t there and he couldn’t run deep with receivers.  The Jets added Ed Reed mid-way through the season and even switched at time to Cover-Two defense at times; a telltale to the Jets secondary playing on their heels.  Dee Milliner struggled for much of the season, but as the season wore on the fundamentals looked better.  First, he was in the right place, swiveling his head.  The  he was swiveling his head in the right place and contesting passes.  This led to Milliner putting up ten passes defensed in the last two weeks of the season and ending the season with 17, the most for any Jet since Darrelle Revis (21) in 2011.

Behind Cro & Dee, Kyle Wilson finally looked at home in the slot and played as such.  Wilson ranked as the top slot corner in 2013 according to Pro Football Focus.  Darrin Walls saw about a quarter of the team’s defensive snaps, working as an extra defensive back or in outright replacement of Milliner looking rough but passable in his time on the field.  The Jets seemed to bury Ellis Lankster (in favor of Isaiah Trufant) and emphasize Lankster’s role on a struggling special teams group.  Strange considering the corners troubles last year — this might speak to longer term issues.

While this was taking place, the Jets did a good job last year of building depth for training camp by acquiring Ras-I Dowling for their practice squad.

As for the safeties, Dawan Landry held the group together all season long as a starter and ended with the third most tackles on the team; speaking to his use more in run support.  Landry wasn’t great against the pass, but on the whole he still fared better than Antonio Allen.  Allen has athleticism, range, vision and speed but he has work to do in coverage despite his game-changing pick-six of Tom Brady.

Allen’s growth as a coverage player was suspended though once he was moved to the bench when the Jets brought in Ed Reed to help stabilize the coverage deficient safety position.  Reed rounded into form by the end of the season, but some very visible mixups in coverage seemed to make his return unlikely.

Jaiquawn Jarrett seems to have found a role with the Jets as a backup and played solid football without major concerns about his needed to see extra time in emergency work.  Josh Bush also played fine in the small numbers of snaps he saw scattered across the season.

Overall outlook: There’s no doubt in my mind that there’s a lot of questions in the minds of many when it comes to this group, but the additions were positive, granted not to the same degree had they landed one of the top defensive backs in free agency.  Even so, Calvin Pryor’s athleticism, versatility and physicality make him a lock as one of Ryan’s safeties who the team can feel confident in deploying in man-coverage roles when required.  Allen seems a rangy and versatile complement to Pryor, though Allen still needs to refine his pass coverage before the team feels confident in mixing and matching safeties.

At corner, the group from 1-8 looks to be one of the deepest in recent memory, though I get the concerns around the projected starters.  Dee Milliner has had trouble staying on the field due to health and play in 2013, but his December was so strong it’s hard to shake those images.  Dimitri Patterson wasn’t a high profile free agent, but he fits the mold of corner for which Rex typically looks.

Wilson shone as a slot corner in 2013 and we look for more of the same.  Darrin Walls graded out well in 2013 and we expect him to be a competent backup who can play the against the boundary in a pinch.  Ellis Lankster might settle into a role as a core special teamer only, or he might get a shot at beating a stout group of corners for time in sub-packages.  Ras-I Dowling has had a stellar spring, but he’s demonstrated durability concerns dating back to high school so it comes down to his ability to stay healthy and look just as good when the pads come on.

The Jets drafting of Dexter McDougle is a huge open switch; the team went out of their way to take McDougle rounds ahead of where he might have otherwise gone on the basis of his junior tape because of an injury during his senior season.  It is an indication of just how highly the Jets think of McDougle.  Expectations could be high for McDougle from early on.

Camp competition:  Dee Milliner and Calvin Pryor’s jobs are the only two sure things in this entire group, the rest will be up for grabs from among a diverse and talented group of corners and safeties.  This means that the Jets will have the luxury to let the best players play through their competition mantra during training camp and preseason.  Patterson is the presumptive starter across from Milliner, but if another player clearly states their case the Jets will have no reason to refuse.  The same holds true for the rest of the corners down the line.  At safety while Allen is the presumptive starter, Landry could fill the clean-up run support role easily with the tradeoff of less versatility in range.  Meanwhile Jaiquawn Jarrett, Rontez Miles and Josh Bush will fight for what might be the last safety spot.




105 comments

Ras I Dowling can be a starter opposite Milliner, if he can stay healthy!!

Simon Gribben
Simon Gribben

What a drag this is when I'm looking for football and a troll jumps in and a seemingly endless debate begins about nothing--like Cimini's opinion.  I have to scroll past the useless debris to find some FOOTBALL NEWS!

nesboogie
nesboogie

Jason Babin though? We hosted him lol

nesboogie
nesboogie

I plan on taking a trip to Cortland to watch some of training camp. How does that work?

UncleJoesJetFarm
UncleJoesJetFarm

The biggest thing I want in this off season aside from Geno being the man, is no major injuries!

jaygo
jaygo

Yes, finally football is back!


Looking forward to camp.  Few distractions for a change and a team on the upswing.  Already saw two perennial haters predicting 9-7, one with a playoff spot.


Impressed with management under The Id.  Quashed QB controversy before it started while upgrading back-up dramatically, no high risk moves, solid additions, good draft, playing football moneyball.


Rex looks better and sounds better.


Bring it on!



gbrownn
gbrownn

Him violating Hunter a couple years ago is the first thing that comes to mind.

__fense
__fense

@nesboogie You have to go online and register, and they give you a ticket to print out. I'm not sure about parking or anything, but I think that's all you need.

Brendan
Brendan

@jaygo "Quashed QB controversy before it started"


I think this needs more attention. The media wanted a QB controversy sooooooo badly, they did their best to ignore the actual comments coming from the team & players and tried to fabricate one. But Idzik shut it down. Great job on that front. 

jaygo
jaygo

@UncleJoesJetFarm Hey, where is all the anti-Vick protest in Cortland?  

harold
harold

@tsjc68

I feel like he must have a self destructive disorder.  Not to be in the min. shape needed to complete the drill.  He has some serious problems mentally.  I hope he can get help.

tsjc68
tsjc68

I am shocked, SHOCKED to find out that gambling is going on in here!

ramble914
ramble914

@UncleJoesJetFarm

Who cares what cimini says! When I go to Cortland to watch practice, I'm going to pelt cimini with rotten tomatoes!

tsjc68
tsjc68

@UncleJoesJetFarm

I assume the thrust behind Cimini's proclamation that "idzik's honeymoon is over" is the fact that Idzik's job will now be tougher, given that he has 25M in cap room and all of that will be needed just to sign rookies.

tsjc68
tsjc68

 Jacksonville placed Sanders on the non-football illness list Tuesday, so this explains news explains why the roster move.

“I am taking full responsibility for all my actions. I am sorry,” Sanders said.

Sanders admitted that he is working through some personal issues and expects to miss most of training camp.

http://nfltraderumors.co/jaguars-wr-ace-sanders-facing-four-game-suspension/


Man, this smells so much like Mike Goodson.  Hope Sanders's issues don't end up like Mike's.

tsjc68
tsjc68

@Brendan @jaygo

And the RB controversy seems to have failed to materialize as well.


I guess the only controversies that remain are the super-important "Who will be WR#2?" question that must be answered firmly and definitively to avoid the team imploding on itself, and the constant questions of "When will Rex Ryan stop foolishly playing _______ out of position?" and "How on earth will the team be able to afford all these rookies?" 

tsjc68
tsjc68

@Brendan @UncleJoesJetFarm

Maybe Rich is Joey's childhood friend or something.  Or maybe Joey owns a company that sells mom jeans, and he's trying valiantly to keep Rich gainfully employed so that he'll keep buying product.

Brendan
Brendan

@tsjc68 Reading some excerpts from that announcement, it seems like Sanders at least has a good perspective on the situation and took responsibility. I got the sense that the team was aware of this situation before it resulted in a suspension and are committed to helping him through it (much like the Jets were until Goodson told them to screw off). 


Also, 57 is probably weeping because just yesterday he was reveling in your recent absence from TJB. Give him time, he'll be back. 

juunit
juunit

@tsjc68 

So, he doesn't wanna be like Mike?

That's now two recent Jaguars receivers to have those types of issues. Safe to say they weren't thinking about character when they drafted guys in the past?

Brendan
Brendan

@tsjc68 If he can only corner the market on all-white dad shoes with big soles, Joey will corner the market for "old guys who dress like grandmothers." 

tsjc68
tsjc68

@UncleJoesJetFarm @tsjc68

Yes.


My comment was a "good post".  Cimini's was not.  And yes, I know this to be true without having actually read Cimini's post.

tsjc68
tsjc68

@Brendan @tsjc68

Also, 57 is probably weeping because just yesterday he was reveling in your recent absence from TJB.


Wait, what?

Brendan
Brendan

@tsjc68 Cliff notes: 57 comments that Hankenstein has been missing lately, and is saddened by this development. He then comments that you have also not been around the past week or so, and that this makes him happy. 

tsjc68
tsjc68

@Brendan @tsjc68

Lovely.  I'll be sure to alert him next time that I take a vacation.


(It's coming mid-August.  CONSIDER YOURSELF ALERTED.)

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se You care solely because I don't care. Great stuff, as always. 

a57se
a57se

@tsjc68

I think being the ANTI-YOU is a noble state of being!

Brendan
Brendan

@a57se Only you can answer that, but you're now saying you care about "the Cimidiot's" commentary, which contradicts you past comments about how he's "the Cimidiot." I assumed it was simply because I said his thoughts are irrelevant. 

a57se
a57se

@Brendan @a57se 

I actually read the piece and it wasn't all that bad...he makes some decent points and has limited snark...

tsjc68
tsjc68

@a57se @Brendan

It would have been a better piece had he not left out other notable guys Idzik brought in who already are integral parts of the team, like Dawan Landry, Willie Colon, Chris Ivory, David Nelson, Leger Douzable, Antwan Barnes, or Ed Reed, or that he's done a much better job of improving the depth of the team everywhere.


Instead, he made it seem like the only guy that Idzik brought in that worked out so far was Sheldon Richardson, and that all the other good players are Tannenbaum's guys, and that's just flat-out wrong.

a57se
a57se

@tsjc68 @a57se @Brendan 

I did that so you might actually get the idea that I was joking...I should have known better!

tsjc68
tsjc68

@a57se @tsjc68 @Brendan

The problem with that idea is that you often also use superfluous punctuation when you're NOT joking and are being fully serious, so it fails to effectively work as a signifier.

tsjc68
tsjc68

@Bent @tsjc68 @a57se @Brendan

Professor Frink, Professor Frink,

He'll make you laugh, he'll make you think,

He likes to run, and then the thing,

with the... mm-m person... 

Oh boy, that monkey is going to pay.