New York Jets rookie cornerback Michael Carter II was unbeatable against the Packers
That’s a sign of just how good he was.
Carter II finished with just one solo tackle, and that’s it. He did not post any other statistics in the box score. Yet, he was one of the best players on the field.
Starting at slot cornerback with the first-team defense, Carter II consistently provided tight coverage that discouraged Green Bay from throwing the ball his way. Carter II dropped into coverage on 15 snaps and was not targeted a single time.
Let’s take a look at some of the stingy coverage from Carter II that allowed him to go through the game without being challenged.
Michael Carter II blankets Amari Rodgers on the slant
Carter II lines up in the slot against Clemson rookie Amari Rodgers and gives a cushion of about four yards. Going man-to-man against Rodgers, Carter II stays patient and remains square to Rodgers as he reads his movements.
Rodgers does not do a great job of selling an outside break before cutting inside on the slant (a head fake could have helped). Carter II breaks off of his outside foot, turns his hips inside, gets hands-on, and sticks to the back hip of Rodgers, shutting down his slant route.
Michael Carter II cuts off the primary read in zone coverage
Carter II is playing an underneath zone in a quarters look. He shows excellent discipline and play recognition to take away Kurt Benkert’s primary read.
On Carter II’s side, Green Bay sends the No. 2 and No. 3 threats (two inside receivers) vertical. They want to bait Carter II into carrying the No. 2 receiver downfield so the No. 1 can come open underneath him over the middle.
Carter II doesn’t bite. He passes the No. 2’s vertical route off to the outside cornerback (Isaiah Dunn) and stays at home to cut off the in-breaking route from the No. 1. Benkert wants the throw but cannot make it with Carter II sitting right on top of it. He eventually rolls out and throws an incomplete pass.
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Michael Carter II’s speed allows him to fight through the rub
Carter II flashed excellent speed with a time of 4.36 seconds in the 40-yard dash at his Duke pro day. He also posted good marks in the quickness drills, recording a 2.56-second time in the 20-yard shuttle (72nd percentile all-time among DBs) and a 1.51-second time in the 10-yard split (81st percentile).
You can see a glimpse of Carter II’s speed on this play. The Packers rub Carter II and force him to go over the top to cover the drag route from the outside receiver. Carter II shows noticeably impressive burst and short-area quickness to make up the ground and get on top of the receiver as he emerges from the traffic.
If this play went on longer and the QB looked to Carter II’s man, he most likely would have moved to the next read due to Carter II being right on top of the route.
Michael Carter II covers the slot-wheel
Carter II again takes on Rodgers in the slot. Noticing that Rodgers’ hips remain pointed upfield the entire way, Carter II anticipates the wheel route and gets on top of it. The route is shut down.
The ball comes out quickly to the opposite side, but nevertheless, Carter II executed his assignment.
There are some positions on the football field where it is usually a good thing if you rarely notice a player. Cornerback is one of them. Carter II’s performance against the Packers exemplified the value that a cornerback can add without getting anywhere near the football.
This game was a positive step forward for Carter II as he continues to battle it out with Javelin Guidry for the Jets’ starting slot cornerback role. It wasn’t a huge step forward, though, as Guidry also played well. Guidry relieved Carter II in the slot and was similarly strong, allowing one catch for three yards across two targets and nine snaps in coverage.
Guidry started against the Giants in the preseason opener while Carter II backed him up. They reversed roles in Green Bay, likely for competition’s sake rather than Carter II usurping him (both played well against the Giants).
The duel between Carter II and Guidry remains one of the most exciting on the Jets’ roster. Despite being a rookie fifth-round pick and a second-year undrafted free agent, the two players have been among the most consistent performers on the entire team throughout training camp and the preseason.
Regardless of who wins out, it is beginning to look increasingly likely that New York could have itself at least one gem at the slot cornerback position.