Bent, theJetsBlog.com Follow on Twitter
With the Jets on their bye week, we've been reviewing some of the Jets players, looking in detail at their season so far and what to expect from them coming out of the bye week. We're looking at a mixture of players who've exceeded expectations and that have been disappointing so far. We continue today with a look at nickel back Brian Poole.
Expectations prior to the season
With Buster Skrine departing for Chicago in free agency, the Jets needed to acquire someone to play the slot cornerback position and managed to acquire Poole, the former Atlanta Falcon, on a one-year, $3 million deal.
It was anticipated that 2018 sixth-round pick Parry Nickerson would compete with Poole for the role, but he was traded away after an uneven performance in the preseason and no other challengers emerged for the role.
In the preseason, Poole held up well. He gave up one first down -- a 20-yard pass -- but also had a pass break-up and made some good plays close to the line of scrimmage as a tackler.
Stats over the first three weeks
- Three games played (one start) 16 tackles
- No interceptions
- Three passes defensed
- One tackle for loss
Poole has been one player whose performance has arguably exceeded expectations so far. The 26-year old has only given up one first down in coverage through the first three games and has also made some nice plays.
He made an instant impact in his first game as a Jet, putting points on the board when he tackled Frank Gore in his own end zone for a third quarter safety. That was actually Poole's only tackle of the game, though.
Poole had two pass break-ups in the Cleveland game in week two and one of his three tackles was on a pass that was stopped for no gain. While one enduring memory from that game will be Poole chasing Odell Beckham on his 89-yard touchdown and making a desperate and futile diving attempt to trip him up at the 30-yard line, it was clearly Neville Hewitt and Marcus Maye that were primarily at fault on that play.
In last Sunday's game against New England, Poole racked up a team-high 12 tackles. That included five tackles on passes that went for five yards or less and three run stops close to the line of scrimmage. He also had a diving pass break-up in front of Julian Edelman where he almost came up with the interception and one tackle where he almost forced a fumble, although the runner was ruled down before the ball came loose.
With Skrine having often been associated with giving up a lot of penalties, Poole has shown good discipline so far. His only penalty was on a defensive holding call away from the ball on a third down play that was converted anyway. Poole had 10 penalties over the last two seasons, whereas Skrine had 19.
Since the season began, Poole has played almost 80 percent of the snaps which underscores how often the Jets have been in sub-packages rather than a base defense and highlights the importance of his role even though he isn't necessarily in the starting line-up every week.
Poole has also been getting regular playing time on special teams, including on the punt coverage unit. He's yet to make any notable contributions, though.
Expectations after the bye
Poole's role is not expected to change after the bye. He'll continue to man the slot, which will mean he plays a high percentage of the snaps. While his play has been good so far, he can take his game to the next level if he creates some turnovers. Poole intercepted three passes last year and forced multiple fumbles in training camp, so he definitely has that kind of capability. As noted above, he almost forced a turnover a couple of times in the New England game.
The Jets will have to hope that Poole stays healthy. If he was to get injured, they would presumably have to bring Arthur Maulet off the bench or move Nate Hairston into the slot and put Trumaine Johnson back on the outside.
Assuming Poole can keep up this level of play throughout the season, his value will almost certainly be higher heading into free agency in 2020. The Jets will probably be keen to bring him back, especially in light of the fact that the Nickerson pick didn't pan out as expected. However, they might have to bump his pay significantly because there will be a demand for his services.