Thursday, March 20, 2014

Cromartie signs with the Cardinals: What this means for the Jets

Very simply put, they're moving on.

Over the last two weeks of free agency the Jets have missed out on bringing in a handful of top cornerbacks including ex-Jet Darrelle Revis and veteran Antonio Cromartie after he signed a one year deal with the Arizona Cardinals. This leaves them with the shaky Kyle Wilson and Dee Milliner as their #1 and #2 cornerbacks. Assuming Kyle Wilson didn't miraculously improve at his respective position, this would mean they may put all their trust into the improvement of Milliner. 

What does this mean for Jets fans? Don't freak out. Milliner began the season injury plagued and missing valuable practice time. You better believe that this contributed to his rocky start at the beginning of the season. After being continuously burned off the line and getting benched for it, Milliner stepped his game up for the last stretch of the season and even managed to grab the AFC Defensive Player of the Week award after his week 17 performance against the Dolphins. Over the last 2 games of the season Milliner picked off 3 passes, 1 against the Browns in week 16 and 2 against Miami to knock them out of the playoffs in week 17. Even more impressive was that he was lined up against Josh Gordon and Mike Wallace during that two game span which may lead you to believe that they were readying Milliner to take the #1 spot. To add onto that, Milliner finished the season tied for 9th in passes defended (17) even after missing 3 games, ahead of players like Richard Sherman, Aqib Talib and DRC. There's a reason Dee was last years top rated cornerback going into the draft and he showed why towards the end of the season.

Want me to shed some more light? Kyle Wilson was one of the best nickel corners in all of the NFL. Not only that, but Wilson was the best corner in the Jets secondary while still having to cover the toughest position to line up against. He led the Jets by giving up the fewest receptions, TDs and the lowest completion percentage. BUT this does not exactly translate to becoming a CB2 because of the difference in playstyle. Don't expect the Jets to plan on moving him out there. They'll try hard to get someone to put on the outside in order to leave Wilson on the slot man.

What I can imagine the Jets doing to try and prepare their secondary for 2014 is to go after a CB to accompany Milliner and Wilson early in the draft. This years draft is VERY strong at the WR position which means that many defensive players could potentially fall well past their projected spot. Now this can mean one of two things: A) the Jets fill a WR hole with the 18th pick and address the CB position in the 2nd or 3rd rounds, or B) they fill a CB hole if a guy like Darqueze Dennard or Justin Gilbert fall to their pick and fill the WR position in the 2nd round. Now both of these seem like possibilities, but if there is one thing I've learned about John Idzik this offseason, it would be that us Jet fans are better off not trying to predict his moves.

One more thing Jet fans, quit saying that the strongest part of your defense (the secondary) is now your weakest point. In 2013, the Jets were 22nd in passing yards allowed per game and 19th in passing TDs allowed. Antonio Cromartie was consistently burned off the line, committed a wealth of pass interference calls, and was an all around average CB last year. If anything, it is better off that he finally ended up elsewhere. Maybe back in 2009 the secondary was the strong point of the Jets defense, but now it's time to change your focus to the 'Sons of Anarchy' on your D-Line.

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