Despite already having pieces in place at the position, it would make sense for the New York Jets to target Dallas Cowboys safety Xavier Woods in free agency.
At first glance, the New York Jets don’t seem to have much of a need at safety. General manager Joe Douglas drafted Ashtyn Davis in the third round this past year, while Marcus Maye has turned out to be a solid player and leader on the Jets’ defense.
However, with the NFL constantly evolving, the Jets need to adapt.
The big nickel and dime packages – which call for a third extra safety on the field – are becoming increasingly common in the NFL. These packages were created to mitigate physical pass-catchers in the slot without hindering the defense’s strength in the run game.
In the case of the Jets, they play in a division where teams are constantly using 11, 12 and 21 personnel in both rushing and passing situations.
This season, the Buffalo Bills lead the league in running the ball out of 11 (1 RB, 1 TE) personnel. The New England Patriots lead the NFL in running out of 21 (2 RB, 1 TE) personnel, while the Miami Dolphins are tied for seventh in running out of 12 (1 RB, 2 TE) personnel.
As the NFL continues to evolve, the big nickel package is being run more often by opposing defenses to counter these unique offensive schemes. More versatility is needed for defenses to be ready for anything that an offense throws at them. The Patriots have been using the big nickel for years to incredible success, and Mike Vrabel has carried it over to Tennessee.
So, where does Xavier Woods fit into all of this?
Xavier Woods is a solid all-around player, but what makes him interesting as a third-safety target is that his best games have come against the Dallas Cowboys’ NFC East division rivals – teams that have typically run their offenses with tendencies that are very similar to the Jets’ rivals in the AFC East this season.