New York Jets rookie DB Jason Pinnock gets more action at safety
One of the New York Jets‘ breakout stars in their Week 16 win over the Jaguars was rookie defensive back Jason Pinnock. Originally selected to play cornerback, Pinnock was thrown into the mix at safety due to a rash of injuries and shined. He made four tackles and missed none while forcing a fumble and recording a key pass breakup down the field.
Pinnock got another chance to dabble at safety in Week 17 as the Jets hosted the Buccaneers. While Pinnock did not start the game, he played frequently, racking up 50 defensive snaps (68% of the defensive plays) as part of a four-man safety rotation employed by New York featuring Elijah Riley (84%), Pinnock (68%), Ashtyn Davis (49%), and Will Parks (12%).
Statistically, it was another solid game for Pinnock.
Pinnock stayed impressively clean in coverage on a day where Tom Brady completed 34 passes for 410 yards. The Pittsburgh product dropped into coverage on 38 snaps and was not targeted a single time.
When it comes to tackling, Pinnock was not involved much. He only had one tackle, which was a shared stop on Rob Gronkowski with linebacker Hamsah Nasirildeen after Gronkowski beat Bryce Hall and broke loose for a big gain. Pinnock had no missed tackles.
It was an extremely quiet day for Pinnock. Most fans watching on television probably had no idea that he played 50 defensive snaps.
And that’s a great thing for the safety position.
There are some positions where being quiet is a bad thing. If you are not noticing a wide receiver or edge rusher who plays 50 snaps, that player is likely struggling. Those players need to stand out. They have to make impact plays.
Safety – much like cornerback and offensive line – is one of the positions where it is probably a good thing if the player is not being noticed. It likely means the player is handling his assignments and not making big mistakes.
While it’s nice when your safeties, corners, and O-linemen pop off the screen with splashy plays, those positions are preventative first and foremost. Their primary job is to prevent the opponent from making big plays rather than to make big plays themselves.
Against Tampa Bay, Pinnock did exactly that.
Moving on to Pinnock’s usage, the free safety position has been his primary home. He lined up there on 63% of his snaps against Jacksonville and 66% against Tampa Bay.
Here is a breakdown of his snap distribution over the past two games:
- Free safety: 64.5%
- Box: 19.8%
- Slot CB: 15.7%
Pinnock led the Jets’ defense with an overall Pro Football Focus grade of 68.5 against the Buccaneers. Over the past two weeks, he owns an overall PFF grade of 78.7, ranking sixth-best among 66 qualified safeties over that span, while his total of 83 coverage snaps played without allowing a catch is the best mark among safeties.
With one more good outing at safety to close the 2021 regular season, Pinnock can put himself squarely in the mix to compete for a primary backup role or even a starting spot at the position in 2022.