FLORHAM PARK, NJ – The dynamic DB duo of Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie is enough to defeat the likes of any formidable offensive opponent. With the talents that these two gifted players possess, it’s fairly easy to conceive the Jets shutting down most teams passing hopes just with those two alone.
However, as we have seen thus far, the rest of the defensive backfield must answer a lot of questions from here on out. While Revis and Cromartie can shut down a team’s top two passing threats, there will always be other options on the field.
Coming into this Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans (4-5), the Jets will be likely down to eight defensive backs, due to the injuries to Marquice Cole (hamstring) and Dwight Lowery (head). Against a team like the Texans, who are fifth in the league in completion percentage (64.2) and passing yards (2,320), they are going to need all the help they can get.
A big question mark to the Jets defensive backfield, injuries aside, has been the up-and-down play of first-year cornerback, Kyle Wilson. After being buried on the bench for a good stretch of the season, Wilson has played well the last two weeks–given the opportunity due to the injury to Lowery. For spurts at a time, Wilson has shown the ability and instincts to be an impact player in this league. But his talents are still raw as he has drawn too many penalties and has given up one too many big plays for a team that has Super Bowl aspirations.
Wilson, who will likely split the nickel back duties with Drew Coleman, will draw the match-up of Jacoby Jones in the slot on Sunday. Jones has top-notch speed and enjoyed a breakout 2009 season. In games past, (see Burleson, Nate 7 receptions, 113 yards, 1 TD) Wilson has struggled against speedy receivers.
And while Jim Leonhard is a locker room leader, displaying the definition of “playing like a Jet”, he has looked over-matched in the passing game. Offenses zero in on Leonhard’s size to create mismatches with larger tight ends. The numbers may not show it this year, but Matt Schaub has a ton of confidence in the 6’3″, 250 pound Owen Daniels, who can outrun linebackers his size and run over defensive backs who try to run with him.
The lack of depth at the defensive back position will weigh heavily on the job the linebackers can do controlling the pass out of the backfield. Houston has the luxury of having three running backs who do a fantastic job at catching the ball. Arian Foster (33 receptions, 319 yards) has been a match-up nightmare for defensive fronts who not only have to gear up for the run (920 yards, 10 TDs) but catching the ball out of the backfield as well.
Of course, all of this will hinge on the health of their quarterback Matt Schaub. Wednesday night, Schaub checked out of the hospital after spending the night due to bursa sac injury in his right knee. Texans coach, Gary Kubiak, said he should not require surgery and that everything should be OK.
If Schaub does play, don’t be surprised if the Texans come out in three and four receiver sets, with the hopes of stretching out the Jets thin secondary.
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