Javelin Guidry had himself an impressive performance against the Rams’ top-notch slot weapons, showcasing some intriguing upside.
With only 172 defensive snaps and a mere three games in which he played extended action on defense, undrafted rookie Javelin Guidry played well enough to make himself a prime candidate for the New York Jets‘ starting slot cornerback role in 2021.
Guidry had an impressive small-sample rookie season in slot coverage. Across his three-week stint of games in which he played more than 30 snaps (Weeks 13-15), Guidry allowed one first down over 13 targets in his direction. On the season, he earned a zone coverage grade of 77.8 at Pro Football Focus, which was the second-best mark among rookie cornerbacks and ranked at the 87th percentile among the 150 cornerbacks to play at least 100 defensive snaps.
The highlight of Guidry’s season was his Week 15 trip to Los Angeles. Putting forth a great performance against top-tier competition, Guidry played a big role in the Jets’ future-redefining victory over the Rams.
Facing an L.A. offense whose wide receivers finished the season with a combined total of 115 receptions out of the slot (2nd-most of the league’s 32 WR units), Guidry allowed zero touchdowns and zero first downs over 39 snaps in coverage. He was targeted five times and allowed four catches for a measly 29 yards.
PFF scored Guidry with a coverage grade of 77.2 in the game, which ranked sixth-best among slot cornerbacks in Week 15.
Let’s take a look at some of Guidry’s best reps from his standout game against the Rams’ slot-heavy offense.
Of the five targets thrown Guidry’s way, the deepest one traveled only eight yards downfield. That’s because Guidry was providing tight coverage on downfield routes throughout the afternoon, preventing his matchups from becoming options when they entered the intermediate and deep parts of the field.
In soft press against Josh Reynolds, Guidry keeps his hips square to the line of scrimmage and takes one hop backward before Reynolds engages with him about three yards downfield. Guidry gets in a decent jam and then turns hips outside with Reynolds as he breaks out.
Reynolds converts his out route into a post route. Guidry gets hands-on, attaches to Reynold’s back hip, and smoothly turns with him downfield as he breaks vertically. Guidry sticks to Reynolds and shuts down the route.
Guidry mans up against Cooper Kupp, the innermost receiver in the trips formation to the field side. He backpedals off the snap and keeps his hips square, not biting on the inside fake by Kupp. As Kupp works outside, Guidry gets hands-on and flips his hips outside. Kupp stacks Guidry and cuts outside on the out route, and Guidry is right there with solid coverage.
Jared Goff gives Kupp a look and starts his windup, but he pulls the ball back and ends up misfiring on a throw underneath.
It’s not perfect coverage by Guidry, as Kupp gets a step of horizontal separation, but on an island against an elite slot receiver (Kupp ranked 5th in slot yards in 2020 and 1st in 2019), that’s solid work. Guidry slid a little bit too far inside at the start of the rep, giving Kupp room to stack and break outside, but he hung tight enough to make Goff second-guess the throw. That’s a 10-yard out route from the opposite hash with Guidry right on the back hip. It would be a very difficult throw to complete against that coverage, even if it wasn’t flawless.
Guidry does an effective job sticking with Cooper Kupp. He drops back with outside leverage, staying outside of Kupp with help to the inside. Kupp breaks outside in Guidry’s direction, so Guidry drops his left foot and swivels his hips to match him to the outside. Guidry gets his right hand on Kupp to help propel himself to swing his body around and attach to him. Kupp stops and comes back toward the QB, and Guidry stays right with him.
Goff decides to dump the ball off, and Guidry leaves Kupp to get downhill and pursue the targeted receiver in the flat (who drops the pass).
Guidry lines up in the slot and then sprints back to play the deep-third post-snap. He wastes no time identifying the outside receiver and getting on top of him to take away his vertical route as an option, forcing Goff to take the shorter throw.
Guidry lines up at linebacker and shifts inside in response to the motioning receiver. Post-snap, Guidry continues sliding right as the Rams fake an outside zone (and a jet sweep simultaneously) to get Goff free on a rollout to the other side.
Once he sees Goff pull the ball and roll out in the opposite direction, Guidry throws on the brake and mirrors Goff. Guidry locates Tyler Higbee and gets out in front and on top of him to take away his vertical route. Goff starts out with his eyes downfield looking for the potential touchdown to Higbee, but with Guidry in perfect position, Goff is forced to work back to his checkdown.
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Guidry had some great finishes in both phases against the Rams. In coverage, he kept everything in front of him and consistently prevented receivers from gaining extra yardage after the catch on short receptions. As a run defender, he contributed a pair of strong downhill finishes.
Guidry made six tackles without missing a single one, earning an 81.1 tackling grade at PFF that ranked sixth-best among slot cornerbacks in Week 15.
Guidry drops into the hook/curl zone. He is put in a tough spot with two threats in his area. Guidry first takes a step downhill to take away the tight end’s potential sit-down route. When the tight end turns upfield, Guidry passes him off to the next zone and turns his attention to the receiver underneath (Robert Woods). Guidry breaks on Woods and hits him just after the catch, wrapping him up to eliminate any bonus after-the-catch yardage.
Woods comes in motion to Guidry’s side pre-snap and runs a vertical route up the sideline. Guidry has flat/curl responsibility, so he covers underneath Woods and keeps his eyes on the quarterback. When Guidry sees Jared Goff step up from the pressure and eye his checkdown (Cooper Kupp), Guidry leaves Woods and aggressively breaks downhill.
When pursuing Kupp for the tackle, Guidry is aware that he has help to the inside and needs to take away the sideline, so he takes an outside angle. That forces indecision on Kupp’s part, giving Guidry the chance to make the tackle with Neville Hewitt and limit Kupp to two yards.
This is a first down pickup on second-and-1, but Guidry makes a fantastic play to prevent the run from going any further.
Guidry follows Kupp post-snap as he runs to the back side of the formation. When Guidry identifies that Kupp is going to block the edge defender, he takes his attention off of Kupp and focuses on finding his gap responsibility based on how the blocks develop and where the RB decides to attack. Guidry notices a hole in the D-gap and he fills it, taking down Cam Akers with a physical diving tackle.
Guidry plays the hook/curl zone with Kupp lined up directly across from him. Kupp quickly gears down for a short stop route. He makes the catch, but Guidry is on his back as soon as he makes the grab. Having dropped back with outside leverage and his hips turned inside, Guidry put himself in a great position to break on the stop route. Guidry brings Kupp down with a picture-perfect wrap-up to again limit the receiver to zero yards after the catch.
Great job by Guidry of reading the action here. Guidry stays patient off the snap. He does not overreact to anything he sees or commit in either direction, but rather, he keeps his hips square to the line of scrimmage so he can read the play and then decide what to do.
With the play-side defensive tackles (Quinnen Williams and Henry Anderson) being pinned inside and the middle linebacker (Neville Hewitt) being driven outside by the right guard, it initially looks like a lane is being formed behind the back of the right tackle. If the RB takes this lane, Guidry needs to get inside.
However, the inside lane is cut off as Marcus Maye plows Cooper Kupp inside, prompting the RB to bounce outside. Now, Guidry’s responsibility is clear: he needs to cover the edge. Having stayed patient and square, Guidry is able to smoothly flip his hips towards the sideline and run full-speed to beat the RB to the spot. Guidry makes a great diving stop as he cuts the RB down at the knees. Two-yard gain on first down.
The Week 15 contest in Los Angeles was Guidry’s last extended appearance of the season, as he missed the following game with a knee injury and barely played in Week 17 (5 defensive snaps). Guidry had improved his PFF coverage grade in back-to-back weeks prior to the knee injury, so it would have been interesting to see if he could continue progressing at such a rapid rate.
Guidry is in the midst of a heated battle with rookie cornerback Michael Carter II for the Jets’ starting slot role. We’ll have to wait and see who comes out on top, but if Guidry is victorious, he will enter his second season with an intriguing reel of rookie-year film to build off of.