While quarterback is the position that gets the most attention (and headlines) the eye has turned to the secondary and the problems
Brian Costello of the New York Post wrote about the secondary and how the Colts took advantage of it on Thursday night.
Colts quarterback Andrew Luck picked apart the Jets secondary in his one drive, throwing for 53 yards. He picked on cornerback Dimitri Patterson, but also found soft spots in the middle of the Jets defense. Now, Rex Ryan and Co. did not game plan and were not throwing their entire defensive playbook — or even half of it — at the Colts.Patterson gave up three receptions for more than 50 yards, including two receptions that came on third down. Patterson told the Bergen Record after the game that "I had a couple plays that I wish I could have back."
“Teams will find him,” one executive from another team said of Patterson.
It is true that Patterson did look lost in his first game as a Jet and was picked on by both Andrew Luck and Matt Hasselback, but it wasn't as if Ryan didn't set up the situation. Ryan set up a very basic scheme in the first preseason game with little if any coverage help for his corners. According to Rex the Colts "knew both of our corners were hanging out to dry ... they were taking some one-on-one shots out there."
As Rex does when he wants to protect a player, he jumped on the funeral pyre.
"I'll take the responsibility for how the defense played in the first half" Rex said after the game. "We only played a couple coverages and I kind of left our guys out there ... I wasn't sharp,"Dimitri Patterson's play wasn't great, but is it something that some better coverages and the teams rookie safety couldn't fix? It's too soon to hit the panic button, but Patterson's on Thursday night wasn't confined to a vacuum. Reports out of Portland have been that he has struggled with his one-on-one matchups and had some issues with injuries.
There's no use now worrying about the players they could have gotten in March or May, so what can the Jets do now?
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News writes about Rex's defense and what it requires to work effectively.
Ryan’s defense is predicated on physical, press-man cover cornerbacks who excel in a single-high safety design. He uses exotic pressure schemes thanks, in part, to devoting only one safety to the deep part of the field.This is true, but there are tweaks on this for 2014. The cornerback spot is getting scaled back some in favor of the other area of the secondary. The team is obviously putting more faith in their safeties this season and will have a rangy athletic big-hitting safety in Calvin Pryor and might run them more in different looks than just that one-high system we're so used to seeing from Rex. Also, while many will say it's premature, it will be Dee Milliner, not Dimitri Patterson filling the Island cornerback role when required. For much of Milliner's rookie season, it didn't look possible, but if you re-watch his games from December it seems more and more likely.
Revis and Antonio Cromartie gave Ryan flexibility and freedom, but poor cornerback play last season forced him to tinker with those aggressive schemes. He altered the plan to mitigate shortcomings on the back end.
Beyond the personnel changes around the CB2, there's also the notion that Patterson might not be the guy for this team at that spot all season long. Darrin Walls and Ellis Lankster and primed to take over if required while the team keeps Kyle Wilson inside at the slot. If Dexter McDougle continues to get better, he might make a push for playing time. The point? There's plenty of other talent that could step up.
"You mix a trap or two in over there and we’ll see what happens," Rex said after the game on what he'll do to hide the second corner, whether that's Patterson or someone else.
Patterson in the NY Daily News.
“They got to throw somewhere,” Patterson said of the possibility of being picked on by opposing quarterbacks this season. “If you’re asking me if I’m going to be targeted more than anybody else, I don’t know. We’ll see. … And that’s fine. I’m an undrafted guy, so I’ve been targeted my whole career. It’s about — when the season comes — showing up. If they choose to target me, those are opportunities for me to make. That’s really what it comes down to.”Dimitri Patterson or the CB2 might be the Jets wounded gazelle on the edge of the herd, but the difference is that the pack is not going to leave him on his own all season. Sometimes the predator will get the best of that spot, but the simple fact is that the safeties and the coaching staff will do whatever they can to protect that
Once upon a time, the Jets had Lito Sheppard and a young buck named Darrelle Revis ... and that secondary rode their way to the best defense in the NFL in Rex Ryan's first year. With a better group of pass-rushers and safeties than they had in 2009, a rising star in Dee Milliner and a Lito Sheppard-esque #2, I think the Jets will be fine.