Jets secondary doomed by lack of INTs, inability to stop big play

Along with the rest of the Jets secondary, Calvin Pryor has played a major role in this disappointing season.

But the starting strong safety doesn’t believe he owes anything to Gang Green Nation.

“I ain’t got nothing to prove to the fans (or) the outside world. It’s all about me,” Pryor said in the Jets locker room Thursday. “I’ve got to look myself in the mirror, so that’s all I’m worried about.”

Pryor was discussing what has become a baffling campaign for a Jets defensive backfield that returned virtually all of its contributing members from last season’s 10-6 campaign.

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Todd Bowles brought back both his starting safeties (Pryor and FS Marcus Gilchrist) and three of his top four cornerbacks (Darrelle Revis, Buster Skrine and Marcus Williams). The fourth was Antonio Cromartie, who had a miserable 2015 season and signed with the Colts in August before being cut less than two months later.

But even with almost identical personnel, the secondary’s production has fallen off significantly. The Jets are allowing an opposing passer rating of 100.2 this season, the fourth-worst mark in the NFL. Last year, that figure was 79.0, sixth best in league.

Todd Bowles admits the obvious as he says Calvin Pryor and Jets secondary 'just not playing well.'

Todd Bowles admits the obvious as he says Calvin Pryor and Jets secondary ‘just not playing well.’

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

So what is behind the drop-off? Primarily, players have regressed. Pryor got off to an admittedly slow start to the season and has been clawing his way back ever since — though he says he’s now “in a comfortable place.”

Revis has been a shell of himself in coverage, providing opposing receivers with seven yards of space at the line of scrimmage. Skrine and Williams have slogged through down years. Gilchrist was pedestrian before suffering a torn patellar tendon in a win at the 49ers on Dec. 11.

Jets secondary doomed by lack of INTs, inability to stop big play

“Just not playing well,” Bowles said this week of his passing defense.

More specifically, though, the secondary has struggled in two important areas that can explain the downturn. First, they’ve failed to force turnovers, specifically interceptions. Second, they’ve surrendered a staggering number of big plays.

The Jets’ seven interceptions in 2016 are more than just one team: the 2-12 Jacksonville Jaguars. And it should be noted that one of those picks came from outside linebacker Lorenzo Mauldin, and not a defensive back.

Last season, the Jets snagged 18 interceptions, the fifth most in the league.

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A lot of the time, players and coaches will explain away low turnover totals by saying they’ve been unlucky. But Pryor isn’t buying it.

“We’re not making plays,” he said. “Luck has nothing to do with it.”

As far as the big plays, the Jets have allowed 12 completions of 40 or more yards this season, many of which have reached the end zone. Just this past weekend, Dolphins receiver Kenny Stills burned Jets rookie Juston Burris for a 52-yard touchdown catch after Bowles called a Cover 0 blitz, meaning there was no safety help.

It’s the type of play the Jets secondary has allowed week after week in 2016.

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Darrelle Revis (l.) and the Jets will try and slow down the mighty Patriots on Saturday.

Darrelle Revis (l.) and the Jets will try and slow down the mighty Patriots on Saturday.

(Julio Cortez/AP)

“It is what it is at this point,” Pryor said. “There’s going to be plays that’s being made out there on the football field. Everybody gets paid to play this game. You’re playing with the best of the best. So things are going to happen.”

Pryor says he has things to prove to himself over these final two games, including Saturday night’s matchup with the Patriots in New England.

But he’s keeping them to himself. And he has no interest in sharing his assessment of his play this season, either.

“I’m not focused on that,” Pryor said. “It hasn’t gone the way as a team that we thought it would go. So at this point, that’s all I’m really worried about.”

Tags:
nfl
new york jets
calvin pryor
todd bowles

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