Off The Scrapheap, Jets Find A Gem In Buckley
By Justin Paley
Jets Insider.com Staff Writer
December 3rd, 2004
NFL cornerbacks are not measured by how many tackles they have but more on there presence as a pass defender. As of today, Buckley is just one of three active players with 50 or more career interceptions and just the 32nd player in NFL history to accomplish the feat. Now in his 13th season, Buckley has solidified that when he leaves the game he will be remembered as an elite cornerback.
“I think that is what being a corner is based on,” Jets CB Donnie Abraham said. “Nobody looks at the stats and sees how many tackles corners have. They look at how many pass breakups and how many interceptions you have through your career. That is what you are judged on.” Buckley is no stranger to the AFC East as he has played with Miami and New England. He has also played for Green Bay and Denver.
Buckley was released by New England during their final training camp cuts as the Patriots looked to get younger. The Patriots have lost a number of players in the secondary to injuries this year and they are probably wishing they had kept Buckley. Buckley talked about being released by New England.
“I felt like I had a great camp,” Buckley said. “But you know when you hit 30 and you have young guys that you are dealing with, I don’t take it personal. Just because one door is closed, another one opens.”
The door that opened was by the Jets who were looking for a cornerback after veteran Ray Mickens was lost for the season with a torn ACL. The Jets signed Buckley on September 8.
Buckley was the last of the free agents the Jets signed including Kendall, QB Quincy Carter, and CB David Barrett. All have performed well this season.
Buckley quickly acclimated to defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson’s aggressive, attacking defense. It helped that Buckley had played in similar schemes before in New England, helping the Patriots to a Super Bowl victory over St. Louis in 2001.
“To win, you have to make plays,” Buckley said. “If you’re a playmaker, you got to make plays. It will help you.”
Buckley has helped the Jets throughout the season, shutting down opposing wide receivers. Buckey recorded his first interception as a Jet on October 10 against the Bills. Buckley’s other interceptions this season came against Miami on November 1 and last week on the final play of the game against Arizona for his 50th career interception.
Buckley got a chance to play more when rookie CB Derrick Strait injured his foot early in the season and has rotated with Abraham and Barrett.
Buckley talked about being able to play different positions in the secondary during his career.
“The more you can do, the better off,” Buckley said. “It’s helped us.”
Abraham talked about what Buckley has brought to the secondary.
“Veteran leadership, big play potential,” Abraham said. “Whenever you can get a player of that caliber, it always helps.”
Using a mix of veteran leadership, youth, and speed, the Jets defense has produced 23 takeaways.
Buckley’s contributions can be shown looking at the stats as the Jets pass defense is ranked 7th in the NFL, allowing 195 yards a game through the air, just slightly above last year’s 189 yards per game average. The defense already has 13 touchdowns and 12 interceptions compared to last year’s season total of 14 defensive touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
S Erik Coleman has performed very well in his rookie season and has learned from the veterans in the secondary. “I pick up the little things,” Coleman said. “They do a good job showing me how I can do stuff better and hopefully one day I’ll be in there shoes.”
Strait, who has having a solid rookie year until he got injured, talked about what he has learned from the veterans. “A lot of little things such as situations to look for in a game,” Strait said.
Buckley feels the defense can improve even more. “We’re in a dog fight to win games,” Buckley said. “We have to play better on defense. Everyone has that attitude and it’s exciting.”
At age 33, most NFL players would be contemplating retirement. But Buckley is contemplating how to defend his opponent and looking for his next interception.