Jets Make Starting Safety Promotion Official With Roster Move

Adrian Colbert

Getty New York Jets safety Adrian Colbert (#33) puts a hit on running back James White (#28).

After the Lamarcus Joyner injury, the New York Jets were looking for a safety to start alongside Marcus Maye.

Sheldrick Redwine was given the initial opportunity when Joyner left the Carolina game but he faltered in coverage. The most notable mistake was a deep Robby Anderson touchdown where the former Jets receiver ran right by the replacement safety.

The performance wasn’t good enough, but it appears Gang Green may have found their new starter after Week 2.

Heading into the home opener, the candidates were Redwine, Jarrod Wilson and Adrian Colbert.

The latter two had more experience in the defensive system that the Jets operate under coordinator Jeff Ulbrich. Only one of the three was a former Robert Saleh disciple though, the former San Francisco 49ers draft pick, Colbert.

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Jets Make Colbert Promotion Official After Start

In Week 1, Colbert was elevated from the practice squad due to his special teams’ ability. He’s a hard-hitter in the open field that gets to the ball-carrier quickly on kick-offs and punts. In Week 2, the physical tackler was given the start at safety.

Colbert was out there for 55 defensive snaps out of a possible 57 against the New England Patriots. The only players to log more were C.J. Mosley and Maye. Cornerback Bryce Hall tied Colbert with 55 of his own.

The safety had his ups and downs in his first NFL start since Week 5 of 2020 but was generally all over the ball, even if he didn’t make the perfect play. There were no glaring mistakes like with Redwine but Colbert did miss a couple of tackles and allow a couple of completions.

Pro Football Focus counted two for each, with a lackluster 45.4 grade despite five tackles. The defensive back lined up all over the scheme, as a free safety 22 times, slot-corner 19 times, and box safety 15 times (D-line once). 34 of his snaps profiled as coverage snaps with 22 on run defense and one as a pass-rusher.

Even after the so-so performance, Colbert must have shown enough versatility to impress Saleh because the Jets decided to make things official on September 20. No more practice squad elevations, the safety would be added to the active roster effective immediately, with journeyman tackle/guard Isaiah Williams getting released.

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Colbert Is More of a Placeholder

If Colbert continues to start in place of Joyner, I’d look at him as more of a placeholder for 2020 draft pick Ashtyn Davis. The promising safety prospect is still working his way back from foot surgery, but the job should be his once he’s cleared to take the field.

Davis was a former third-round pick out of California that was known for his athleticism and pop. During his rookie season, he profiled more as a box safety than a deep-man in coverage, accumulating 36 tackles over six starts and 10 appearances.

Originally, the plan was to have Davis as the utility man behind Maye and Joyner but things haven’t worked out as expected due to injuries. Perhaps Colbert will take over the utility role if Davis slots into the starting job as expected.

At the very least, he should stick with Gang Green as a special teamer.

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