A lot of people (including me) seriously questioned the New York Jets cornerback group heading into the 2021 season.
This positional group lacked star power, experience, and overall chutzpah.
Yet through two weeks of the NFL season, the cornerback group has more than stepped up to the plate with some stellar play.
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Absolute Home Run so Far on the Backend of the Defense
Not only have the Jets been serviceable, but they have also been spectacular.
Michael Nania of Jets X-Factor provided the next level analytics that truly tells how special this unit has been thus far:
- 5.0 air yards allowed per reception (3rd-best)
- 8.5 yards allowed per reception (4th-best)
- 5.9 yards allowed per target (6th-best)
- 0.84 yards allowed per cover snap (6th-best)
All of these numbers are elite, but here is another wow stat: only three NFL teams have allowed zero touchdowns by their cornerbacks through the first two weeks of the season: LA Chargers, Las Vegas Raiders, and the Jets, per Nania.
I have to eat a major L on this one because I didn’t see this coming.
Although there are still several detractors who argue that what has transpired thus far isn’t that impressive.
Fair criticism, but soon that will no longer be an excuse.
In the next game for the green and white, they’ll face Teddy Bridgewater who has often been labeled a check-down kind of player during his career. Although when you look at the advanced metrics, no quarterback this season has attempted more throws over 20 yards down the field than Bridgewater.
This cornerback group is going to get tested deep and we’ll see how they respond.
Robert Saleh Deserves a Ton of Praise
Jets head coach Robert Saleh was absolutely lambasted during the offseason for his lack of personnel moves at the cornerback spot.
He was questioned seemingly on a weekly basis from OTAs through mandatory minicamp to even training camp. Yet he remained steadfast throughout the last few months that he was going to rely on the young pups for better or for worse.
During Monday’s open availability with the media, Saleh took a very subtle victory lap, as he should, for the inspiring play thus far from the cornerback group:
“I’m not surprised [by how well they have played]. Guidry, Michael Carter II, Echols, and Bryce have been playing fantastically. These guys are only going to get better with more reps. They’re going to continue to get tested and they’re going to continue to win. To me, it’s a wasted effort by the offense if they want to play the 50-50 game we’ll take it. Hats off to them, they’ve done a really nice job.”
It is absolutely stunning to see how well the Jets cornerbacks have played considering the level of inexperience they have at the position.
The positional group is littered with first and second-year players and they don’t even have the EDGE rushers up front they were supposed to (Carl Lawson, Vinny Curry) that would’ve helped make their jobs a lot easier.
This has been one of the biggest and most shocking surprises so far this season not only for the Jets but the entire NFL.