Originally written September 28, 2013 on Turn On The Jets:
A busy week has me shooting this grade sheet out right before the Jets-Titans game, but the quality performance from the Jets’ secondary versus E.J Manuel and company still can’t be ignored. Much of the consistent play from the secondary can be credited to the Jets’ front seven, but some players still had magnificent performances, and some had them when they really needed them. Let’s take a quick look. CORNERBACKS Antonio Cromartie:  -Snaps: 85 (99%) If anybody needed a comeback game, Cromartie was the guy. After two weeks of poor play, Cromartie had a solid performance versus Stevie Johnson and company. He looked smoother and more fluid in coverage, which is very reassuring since he said before the game that he was finally at 100% (recovering from his hip). Cromartie didn’t exclusively line up against Stevie Johnson, as he saw a multitude of snaps against Robert Woods and TJ Graham as well. Johnson may have had a solid stat-line, but the blame falls on Kyle Wilson for that. Grade: B+  Cromartie still isn’t playing as well as he was at highpoints in 2012, but he’s surely making his way back to that point after ridding of his hip frustrations and having a comeback performance versus a mix of three different receivers’ skillsets. Kyle Wilson: -Snaps: 73 (85%) Jet fans’ biggest frustration didn’t disappoint in his puzzling play last Sunday. His play was mind-numbing in inconsistency, and I probably shouldn’t even mention his contribution of five penalties, and four consecutively to usher the Bills into the end zone. Wilson, not Cromartie, is the man most responsible for allowing Johnson to boost his stat-line while getting the Bills right back in the thick of the game. He lost his frustration multiple times versus Johnson during and after the play, which is absolutely inexcusable when it’s enough to draw flags. I have to hand it to Wilson; he was a tough tackler in this game. He’s found one thing he can do well, and that’s to close quickly on the ball and tackle with tenacity. This helped him notch four tackles. What matters for a cover corner, especially when he’s seeing an increase in playing time, is coverage, of course. And that is what Wilson is still not getting. I’m honestly not sure if I’ve ever seen Wilson make a complete play in coverage in his four year career with the Jets. He can run well with most receivers, but his lack of anticipation and slow instincts nearly always allow separation down the field. When he manages to run with receivers all the way through their routes, he is hopeless at the point of the catch. Like I showed in a screenshot sequence last week, Wilson never finds the ball in the air, and his play to contest the pass at the point of the catch is out of control, chaotic, or downright non-existent. I believe I’ve found the worst point-of-the-catch play from Wilson, ever. Brace yourselves for this one… On this play, Wilson has done his usual good job of staying with the receiver deep, with his assignment being T.J Graham this time around. However, Wilson has achieved something he hardly ever does; he turned his head around to find the ball on this play. Normally, Wilson would play the receiver and the receiver’s tendencies only, which of course, is a recipe for disaster. Yet, here he is in a perfect spot, and this ball should definitely not be easily completed. Oh no, seriously Kyle? He and Graham are only about three yards downfield where they were in the previous image, yet in that time frame, Wilson has managed to lose all focus on the ball and his positioning. He didn’t slow down to adjust to the under thrown ball by E.J Manuel, and he totally outran the play. If Graham found the ball and pulled back, why couldn’t Wilson do the same? Wilson gets extremely lucky that this was a very poor throw by Manuel, with it taking Graham out of bounds.  The few yards between Wilson and his man show how poor Wilson can play when it matters: at the point of the actual catch. Grade: F Though his play wasn’t all bad, the bad that he contributed resulted in failure. The penalties are something that I’ve never seen before, and he should have been benched for the rest of the game, with no exceptions. He still can’t be counted on to complete a play or maintain an entire assignment, so I don’t see his use at this point. If he starts another game this year, it’ll be hard not to question the backbone of Rex Ryan. Even if he were cut tomorrow, I wouldn’t be one complaining. Darrin Walls: -Snaps: 28 (33%) It’s great to see Walls get more snaps, but he’s still not getting enough (though that’s bound to change). Walls was excellent out there again, as he played on the outside and Wilson slid inside whenever the Jets featured three corners on a play. His skillset is so intriguing, and it fits Ryan’s defensive scheme like a glove. We all know very well by now that he’s a fluid corner who can flip his hips well and swivel, and he excels in man coverage, whether it’s in press or off-man. This skillset helps him defend any quicker receivers who run extensive routes, but mostly versus any receivers who’s speed usually tips the scales for them when they run intermediate and deeper routes. While his ball skills haven’t been tested too much yet, we’ve already seen improvements in that aspect. It’s hard not to love Walls’ potential right now after his dominant (no penalty) play. Walls’ skills catered well towards both Graham and Woods and their styles of play.  Let’s check out Walls’ excellence versus the deep ball in this sequence below… On this third down and long play, the Jets stack nearly everyone (eight players) up at the line to intimidate with a blitz threat. Walls is one of these outside corners versus Woods, with absolutely no help, just isolation. Walls does a great job here by not pressing Woods extensively, since he needs the advantage downfield when the Bills need a longer pass play for a first down. He knows that he can step up and make the tackle if Woods runs an ill-advised hitch or comeback route, so he gives his a cushion while panning out the deeper field out of his backpedal. Walls is surprisingly not a very physical corner for his 6’0 frame, but it’s perfectly fine when he possesses all of the ability to anticipate receivers and cover their ground outside of his backpedal. Woods runs a stutter deep route here, meaning he tried to feint Walls midway through his route into thinking he would change direction. Walls’ positioning, however, makes Woods’ move worthless. Since Walls has leverage with his head start, he isn’t running downfield in a full sprint, so he can easily turn from his stride to adjust to Woods’ route if needed. When Woods doesn’t and just tries to get him to bite, Walls continues his leverage downfield and easily contests the over throw by Manuel, and almost picks it off. Grade: A- Walls’ fantastic play has deserved more playing time for quite some time now, and it finally looks like he’s going to get it. Next week is a big week for him when he likely starts opposite of Cromartie. Nate Washington, Kendall Wright, and Justin Hunter are all favorable match-ups for him. Dee Milliner:  -Snaps: 22 (26%) It’s been a roller-coaster season already for the Jets’ ninth overall pick in this year’s draft. He’s started a games when he’s clearly not ready yet, he’s seen a major decline in snaps, and he’s dealt with two notable nagging injuries, one of which will keep him out versus the Titans (hamstring). Even in his limited snaps versus the Bills, however, Milliner looked better than I’ve seen him all season. Granted, he only saw a pass or two, but he looks to be picking up on the learning curve already in some small doses. Here’s a play where I liked a few things I saw from him… Milliner is an outside corner on this play playing man coverage on Stevie Johnson. Johnson runs a fly route deep, which is a route that we’ve seen Milliner have some troubles with already this season. Early on in this play though, there are already some good signs. Milliner is not a corner who likes to press heavily, but he’s keen on his physicality downfield to maintain his leverage, and he’s very good at it. When he reached the NFL, however, he seemed tentative and laid off on making consistent contact. Luckily, he seems to be treading back to his collegiate tenacity. On this play, you can see that Milliner is being obstructive enough to steer Johnson towards the sideline just to get around him. This sets up leverage for him for the rest of the route. Milliner looks even better on this next screenshot. He maintains his leverage by keeping his left arm and hand as a choke-point downfield, which makes the playing field even smaller for Johnson in this case. Additionally, he has enough confidence to hang with Johnson while looking back to the ball, which is something we really haven’t seen from Milliner yet. These are two more excellent signs, and the pass is over thrown by Manuel and out of bounds, which can be credited to the way Milliner forced Johnson to use the sideline. Grade: A-  Even in the little dosage we had of Dee in the Bills’ game, I am confident enough in the clues I saw that he is learning and getting more confident. Unfortunately, this injury of his really hurts him and stunts what could have been another week of growth. When he returns healthy, likely Week 5 or 6, it will be telling to see if he can play with the same swagger and beat the best of them. Isaiah Trufant:  -Snaps: 3 (3%) There’s not much analysis to be had with Trufant’s game here. He lined up in the slot on all three of his snaps, and got beat by Robert Woods on one of them for a solid 21 yard catch. Trufant is slipping on defense after not performing when called upon two weeks in a row (although he’s still a quality special teamer). Grade: C- SAFETIES Dawan Landry: -Snaps: 86 (100%)  I’ve been so torn on Landry’s early 2013 play for the first three weeks of the season, but I’m starting to lean towards him being an average player. His performance versus the Bills was slightly underwhelming to me. Landry is a solid athlete with a build right behind his brother’s, but he takes notoriously bad angles and lacks aggression towards the ball like a safety should have. It just seems that if you’re looking for a playmaking safety on the back end, you’re not going to find it in Landry; if you’re looking for a consistency, he’s not your guy, either. I’m still getting a feel for Landry and his play, but I’m not sure I see a player with a future in New York after 2013. Grade: C+ Landry could have been a more effective safety against a lackluster Bills’ offense than he played. He’s a physical presence, but he might not be a good fit for the Jets’ scheme. Besides, it’s not a good sign when Antonio Allen is getting off of blocks better than you if you have 15 pounds on him and a much stronger frame. Antonio Allen: -Snaps: 46 (53%) It’s interesting to see Allen’s snap count down so much, especially after he’s been playing so well for his role. Week Three was no exception. Allen cracked down on the Bills’ run game exceptionally, and held the edge very strong. He’s really developed his reading ability of the run game, and his play recognition and pure smarts are recognizable on tape. His efforts awarded him with three tackles and a sack. Allen’s skillset, however, limits him when offenses go vertical. In fact, Allen’s ability to turn his hips and run with receivers was exposed even though he only had to play man coverage a handful of times. You know what you’re getting with Allen, and there’s a good side and a bad. Personally, I’ve come to like his play, as it offers many more pros than it does cons.  Let’s analyze what he did well last Sunday… Allen is featured here in his natural habitat: creeping up in the box to follow the probable run play. It’s important to note that he isn’t over-pursuing the play yet, as he has to wait to see if C.J Spiller will take the carry outside or follow Scott Chandler’s block for a misdirection carry. Allen smartly takes on a block from Stevie Johnson, but doesn’t over-pursue and try to she the block. If Allen shed the block to either side, that could result in one of Spiller’s outlined holes becoming an open option. When Demario Davis occupies Spiller’s hole through the middle and chases, Allen makes him move immediately to shed his block to his right side to follow Spiller around left tackle. He leaves himself with plenty of time and space to chase down Spiller, who is left to beat Allen and additional defenders with his pure speed and agility without any blockers. Allen is in perfect position now on the outside, but makes another smart move when Kyle Wilson jumps into the scene. Wilson arguably went to low on Spiller, so Allen was correct in letting Wilson take the first shot at him. If Allen were to attack Spiller without knowing Wilson was planning on it as well, he could have had his tackle attempt interfered with. Now here’s the best part of a great, smart play by Allen: he finishes the play with tenacity. Allen chases down Spiller, but didn’t go for a lazy knock down tackle. He punishes Spiller with a tackle and hit, even if out of bounds. Grade: B+ It’s still known what Allen can’t do, but he’s doing more than just making up for it with his work in the short passing game and the run game. He’s taking advantage of his chance to start. Jaiquawn Jarrett: -Snaps: 39 (45%) Jarrett held his own and more versus the Bills, and made a case for himself with the high percentage of snaps. I have been genuinely surprised with how fluid Jarrett has looked in coverage, particularly in man coverage. Jarrett came in for Allen on some third down situations, which proves that Rex Ryan and company have trust in Jarrett’s bump-and-run ability in the slot. Lastly, of course Jarrett put his hitting ability to use on his one tackle versus Buffalo. It’s beyond reassuring how good both Allen and Jarrett have looked in their roles that are supporting of each other. Grade: B  Biggest Stock Improvement: Darrin Walls. Walls takes the cake again this week with a great performance in extended snaps. He flashed his skills, and at last, there’s no need to cry for him to start (looks to be starting this weekend versus the Titans).
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