New York Jets cornerback Blessuan Austin is thinking in a different mold in 2020, situationally, which suits Gregg Williams just fine.
FLORHAM PARK, NJ—Nine seconds to go in the first half, ball at your own 29-yard line, and the offense has no timeouts remaining. As a cornerback, nothing can get behind you. That is, unless, a rogue defensive coordinator decides to carelessly play his corners hard and something crazy happens. Even then, keep a solid cushion and everything in front.
In Week 16, 2019, New York Jets cornerback Blessuan Austin failed in a big spot. The Rutgers product did not think situationally. Suddenly, somebody found himself riding the pine.
Twenty-twenty is a new season, which is good news for Austin. No longer is that late-season benching hanging over him. But more importantly, the kid’s situational awareness has increased, according to his positional teacher.
“One of the things I talked to him about after last season was situational awareness,” Jets defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson told reporters after Saturday’s practice. “You can’t just line up and play cornerback. You gotta understand what you have on the field.”
This situational awareness is something he struggled with during his rookie campaign (as seen in the Pittsburgh Steelers game before the half).
“When I took him out of the Pittsburgh game, it was, ‘Hey man, it’s the end of the half, look at the time on the clock. You know they have to push the ball down the field and score,'” Wilson said. “He didn’t understand that so it was a hard lesson for him, but I think it was a great lesson.”
Gregg Williams’ exact coverage is tough to pinpoint here, but it does not matter. Individual reads and the context of the situation are the critical aspects of the play.
Austin, lined up at the top of the screen, is in a soft pre-snap look (mirroring the opposite-field corner).
Marcus Maye‘s movement post-snap is what tells the viewer this play is on Austin. The Jets free safety darts to the middle of the field while seemingly keying in on the No. 3 weapon on the strong (trips) side.
Whether it’s a cover 6 rolled to the strong side, a cover 3 cloud, or a two-deep that featured Maye straying a bit, Austin simply cannot allow that receiver to get behind him. With just nine seconds left, there’s no excuse. Just as important, Austin did not have a No. 2 read threatening him in the least.