Jets' revamped secondary hinges on new kids in the back
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Breaking down the New York Jets‘ roster, unit by unit, in preparation for training camp, which begins July 29:
Top storyline: Adams and Maye — drafted in the first and second rounds, respectively — will be on the accelerated program. The two rookies have a lot to learn and not much time to do it, as both are expected to be opening-day starters. Todd Bowles’ defense is mentally challenging, especially for the safeties. It would be hard to break in one rookie, let alone two. There will be growing pains, but the Jets are willing to grin and bear it. They traded their only proven insurance policy (Calvin Pryor), so it’ll be sink or swim with the kids. It’s worth noting that Adams still hasn’t signed.
Player to watch: Burris, a fourth-round pick last year, is their top young cornerback. He should’ve played more than 178 defensive snaps last season, according to coordinator Kacy Rodgers. That’s what happens when you remain loyal to a star on the decline. (See: Revis, Darrelle.) This year, the coaching staff expects Burris to take a big jump. Presumably, he will enter camp as the No. 3 corner, where he worked in the spring, but I expect him to overtake Skrine as the No. 2. Burris has the ideal dimensions to be a press-corner (6 feet, with 32-inch arms). He has to play with flawless technique because he doesn’t have the catch-up speed to atone for mistakes at the line.
Wild card: Claiborne is one of the biggest wild cards on the team. Obviously, the talent is there (he was the sixth overall pick in 2012), but can he be trusted? He never has played a full season, and he missed 26 of the last 48 games for the Dallas Cowboys. The Jets took a $5 million flyer on Claiborne, hoping he can reverse his history. The training staff will work closely with him, devising a plan they hope will prevent injuries. Their fingers are crossed. He was their only significant acquisition at corner, where the Jets are dangerously vulnerable. The Jets are hoping the switch from Dallas’ Cover-2 to a man-heavy scheme will unlock his unrealized potential.
Training camp will be a success if …: Adams and Maye achieve a firm grasp of the defense. There will be mental mistakes along the way, but it’s important to keep them to a minimum. Look for the two rookies to get a lot of playing time in the preseason, with Adams at strong safety and Maye at free. Hey, look at it this way: The secondary can’t be any worse than last season, when Revis & Co. were exposed on a weekly basis.
By the numbers: Even when they pressured the quarterback, the Jets’ pass defense didn’t perform well — a sign of poor coverage in the secondary. They allowed a 73.1 passer rating, which ranked 27th, per ESPN Stats & Information.