New York Jets’ young cornerback room posts promising stats in the preseason
The cornerback position has been the most maligned unit on the New York Jets‘ roster throughout the offseason. Featuring no players selected earlier than the fifth round of the NFL draft and no players with more than 16 career starts, it is a group that severely lacks experience.
Surprisingly, the Jets’ cornerback group did not look like the worst position on the field during the preseason. New York’s corners certainly weren’t great, as a few players struggled, but there were quite a few standouts who provided hope of a bright future at the position.
Jets fans can feel a little bit more comfortable about their team’s cornerback group knowing that some of its young prospects have showcased intriguing potential.
Brandin Echols highlights the Jets’ rookie outside cornerbacks
Of the Jets’ three key rookie cornerbacks on the outside – Brandin Echols, Jason Pinnock, and Isaiah Dunn – Echols was easily the most impressive.
Echols dropped into coverage on 34 snaps and allowed 2-of-4 passing in his direction for 12 yards and zero first downs. He did have a 17-yard pass interference penalty against the Giants.
To boot, Echols snagged one pass breakup and one interception.
Echols did a mostly good job preventing any deep production (save for the pass interference call that came on a deep shot to the end zone). He allowed 11 yards after the catch and a measly one yard through the air.
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Jason Pinnock and Isaiah Dunn struggle
Fifth-round pick Jason Pinnock and expensive undrafted free agent Isaiah Dunn both had some trouble to begin their careers.
Pinnock dropped back on 28 snaps and allowed both passes in his direction to be completed for 36 yards. Each catch was an 18-yard first down. He also had a pass interference call in the end zone on a third-down red-zone play.
Eagles wide receiver Travis Fulgham nearly beat Pinnock for a touchdown, but Pinnock saved face as he stripped the ball out near the goal line.
Dunn was the Jets’ worst coverage defender of the preseason. Over 30 coverage snaps, he allowed 4-of-6 passes in his direction to be completed for one touchdown, two first downs, and a team-high 83 yards. He also tied for the team lead with two missed tackles.
Most notably, Dunn coughed up a 42-yard touchdown to Philadelphia wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.
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Michael Carter II and Javelin Guidry thrive
Here is a look at the coverage numbers of the Jets’ two competitors for the starting slot role, Michael Carter II and Javelin Guidry:
- Carter II: 43 coverage snaps, 2/3 passing for 11 yards and 1 first down
- Guidry: 29 coverage snaps, 3/5 passing for 20 yards and 0 first downs
Combined, the duo allowed:
- 0.43 yards per cover snap (2020 NFL CB average: 1.15)
- 3.9 yards per target (2020 NFL CB average: 8.0)
- 70.3 passer rating (2020 NFL CB average: 98.8)
The most impressive aspect of Carter II and Guidry’s preseason performances is how great they were at covering downfield. Neither corner gave up anything vertically. Combined, they allowed 43 yards after the catch and negative-12 yards through the air.
That huge discrepancy happened as a result of a few screen passes thrown their way – passes behind the line of scrimmage yield negative air yardage and lots of YAC – but it still showcases the fact that they did not give up anything of note down the field.
Carter II and Guidry were both tethered to the slot. They each played 93% of their snaps in the slot.
For Carter II, this preseason was one heck of a way to kick off his professional career. His coverage already looks NFL-caliber, featuring veteran-like patience and quick feet.
For Guidry, this was a continuation of the promise that he showed over limited reps near the end of his rookie season. Between the 2020 regular season and the 2021 preseason, he has done nothing but shut down opposing slot weapons.
Lamar Jackson’s rookie-year woes carry over
Lamar Jackson was tossed into the fire for six starts as an undrafted rookie in 2020 and looked exactly as you would expect him to.
Jackson obviously deserves a pass for last year, but it doesn’t look like he has benefited much from the experience he got. In the preseason, Jackson allowed 3-of-5 passing for 56 yards with all three catches moving the chains. He also gave up another first down on an illegal contact penalty, giving him a team-high of four conversions allowed in coverage.
Decent results for the starting duo of Bless Austin and Bryce Hall
The Jets’ starting outside duo of Bless Austin and Bryce Hall looked fine in its limited time on the field.
- Austin: 16 coverage snaps, 1/2 passing for 10 yards and 1 first down
- Hall: 32 coverage snaps, 3/4 passing for 18 yards and 2 first downs
On the downside, Austin and Hall were susceptible to giving up short first downs. They combined to give up three first downs on only six targets. Austin allowed a 10-yard first while Hall allowed two 9-yard firsts.
Positively, the pair covered well enough to discourage opponents from challenging them. Austin and Hall combined to see six targets over 48 cover snaps, an average of one target per 8.0 snaps that is slightly less frequent than the 2020 league average for cornerbacks (7.0).
Austin and Hall also did a good job of keeping things in front of them. They combined to allow only 7.0 yards per reception and 4.7 yards per target.
The question of the day is how many CB’s to the Jets keep, will go with 6+Hardee. Austin, Hall, Echols, Pinnock, Guidry, Carter. Carter will work inside and outside, Pinnock saved his spot by decent Special Teams work