NFL.com Around the League’s Chris Wesseling did an interesting series of posts over the last couple of weeks ranking the best offensive and defensive nuclei of all 32 teams. While the Jets didn’t fare so well on offense, their defense did rank in the league’s top ten.
7. New York Jets
As far as 3-4 defensive lines go, the Jets’ trio of Muhammad Wilkerson, Damon Harrison and Sheldon Richardson is peerless. Wilkerson will be in the market for a mega-contract, but Harrison and Richardson are cheaply under team control for the foreseeable future. This defense needs major help at the back end, where first-round cornerbacks Dee Milliner and Kyle Wilson have fallen well short of expectations.
Brian Bassett, TheJetsBlog.comWe agree with Wesseling’s assessment of the Jets front three. In addition, the linebacking corps looked rejuvenated in 2013, but more changes might be coming there this offseason. Right now it is obvious that the weak point of this Jets defense has been the secondary and the team will have to re-work that group in 2014.
Kyle Wilson will still be on his rookie deal in 2014 and while he’s not been stellar but with a $2.2 million cap value he’ll do as a slot corner. Dee Milliner is showing signs of steady improvement in the last four games and posted his first interception of the season last week against the Browns. Milliner played commendably against Josh Gordon, so maybe Wesseling needs to watch some more recent tape on the Jets.
In his tenure with the team, on the whole Rex Ryan has de-emphasized the safety position in favor of cornerbacks. That’s something that can be gotten away with when Darrelle Revis is on the roster. In 2012, while Cromartie played very well, it was Cro’s play in combination with LaRon Landry’s that helped stabilize the unit when Revis was gone. With a large cap number and big cap savings looming by cutting Cro in 2014, he’s going to be at risk for being on this team next season.
In recent weeks the Jets seem to have finally dialed in Ed Reed in combination with Milliner and Cro, but the team is going to have to vigorously evaluate their options at the safety spot going forward. The team needs to try and find a playmaker with strong coverage skills to help even out that group. Maybe that guy can be Ed Reed, but the Jets shouldn’t leave any options off the table as they move forward in the post-Revis and potentially post-Cromartie era.