Most analysts expected the Jets to draft a cornerback or wide receiver in the first round. But when the Jets were free to pick Pryor, the Jets war room “erupted” according to John Idzik as they feared the Ravens would snatch up Pryor before the Jets got the chance.
With just one week and a rookie minicamp already under their belt, Ryan likes what he’s seen from his first rounder so far.
For a player who is likely to be the team’s signal caller on defense, it’s important that he get up to speed quickly.
“He’s catching [the defense] to where he doesn’t just learn his position but he’s learning how the defense works,” Ryan said. “I think that’s been impressive.”
Beyond his comprehension of the Jets defense, what else has Ryan seen that he likes about Pryor’s game? According to the Star-Ledger, Ryan said it was Pryor’s ability to see the play unfolding in front of him.
“Today, in seven-on-seven, he could’ve had three great shots (to make hits). He’s so instinctive. A guy can be a big hitter, but if you don’t have instincts or you don’t have awareness, a lot of times it’s wasted, unless a (receiver) is right there on your track. But this guy, he sees it happening and he’s got great pattern recognition and he also has an ability to time things. I think that’s what puts him in position to make those hits.”
It is that unfolding that let’s him make such bone-jarring hits, or as David Harris put it last week “come downhill with authority.”
The Jets have badly needed some authority from their safety play. In 2013, the Jets moved on from Darrelle Revis and were unable to keep the athletic and intimidating LaRon Landry due to his pricetag. With those two holes and a rookie starter and a hobbled Antonio Cromartie the Jets secondary — specifically the safety spots — the Jets secondary was badly exploited in 2013.
Football Outsiders has been writing about the best and worst charted cornerbacks of the 2013 season and had this bit of insight into the 2013 Jets secondary in relation to Antonio Cromartie.
We often write about how our cornerback charting stats are extremely inconsistent from year to year, but what’s surprising about the two cornerbacks who gave up the most yards per pass in 2013 is how consistently good they had been until 2013. Antonio Cromartie had ranked in the top 20 for Adjusted Success Rate each of his three previous years in New York (2010-2012), and in the top 26 for Adjusted Yards per Pass.
Cromartie’s struggles were more about getting burned for huge pass plays; as you can tell from his average Adjusted Success Rate, he wasn’t getting constantly beat both short and deep, just deep. You also might notice he was dead last in yards after the catch allowed, so he wasn’t really getting much help from the safeties behind him.
The deep ball plagued the Jets in 2013. While Dawan Landry was able to use his mental acumen to help set the defense, his deficiencies in coverage were obvious and were made worse by Cromartie’s injury. Between Dawan Landry, Antonio Allen, Jaiquawn Jarrett and Josh Bush the team was overloaded as run support safeties. One of the biggest problems with the group going into the 2013 season was the team’s lack of a single proficient coverage safety and it showed over the course of the season.
This series of events precipitated the Jets bringing in Ed Reed mid-season after he was cut by the Texans. According to Pro Football Focus, the Jets best safety in coverage at the end of 2013 was Ed Reed and he still ranked a lowly 48th.
Even with the loss of Cromartie, the addition of Pryor and the Jets other acquisitions might make the cornerback the surprise breakthrough unit by the end of 2014. Dee Milliner is coming along and between Dmitri Patterson, Kyle Wilson, Darrin Walls, Ellis Lankster and rookies Dexter McDougle and Brandon Dixon the team’s depth looks promising and interchangeable.
So what will the Jets do in 2014 with Calvin Pryor now on the roster? Rich Cimini of ESPN NY sought to answer that question.
Presumably, Pryor will start at one safety spot, withDawan Landry or Antonio Allen at the other position. Many have assumed that it’ll be Pryor and Landry, the most experienced returning player in the secondary, but it sounds as if Landry could be headed to a reserve role. There had been some speculation after the draft that Landry’s roster spot is in jeopardy. Ryan put that to rest — he called him a “vital member” of the defense — but he didn’t commit to Landry as a starter.
“Landry is going to play a ton, whether it’s a clear-cut starter or whatever you want to say … he’ll play,” Ryan said. “He’ll play in some capacity, and he might end up playing more than any of the other safeties.”
One thing is clear: Pryor is the new top dog.
Antonio Allen looks like he’s on the ascent and will start opposite Pryor. But whether it’s Landry or Allen, either will be best employed around the line. Allen is growing more comfortable in coverage and while Pryor might be best served in the box, he is more than sufficiently gifted to play the coverage role in the Jets scheme and raise the level of play of the secondary around him.