Jalen Ramsey, Dolphins, Trade, NY Jets
Jalen Ramsey, Los Angeles Rams, Miami Dolphins, New York Jets, Getty Images

There’s a key reason that New York Jets fans should not be worried about Jalen Ramsey’s acquisition by the Miami Dolphins

Talk about going all-in: it appears that the Miami Dolphins have taken the term literally. Their latest blockbuster is a trade for Rams Pro Bowl cornerback Jalen Ramsey, widely perceived as one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL.

The 28-year-old Ramsey joins Xavien Howard to form one of the NFL’s most expensive cornerback tandems—and its most overrated one.

There is a simple reason that New York Jets fans should not be overly alarmed by Ramsey joining the Dolphins’ defense: Ramsey did not perform well in 2022.

Don’t let the accolades fool you. Ramsey was beaten often last season. The numbers prove it. The film backs it up.

By the numbers

Here were Ramsey’s 2022 Pro Football Focus statistics and rankings among 70 qualified cornerbacks (min. 400 cover snaps).

  • 56 receptions allowed (T-9th)
  • 86 targets (T-11th)
  • 65.1% catch rate allowed (40th percentile)
  • 712 yards (T-6th)
  • 7 touchdowns (T-2nd-worst)
  • 4 interceptions (T-6th)
  • 11 pass breakups (T-6th)
  • 14% forced incompletion rate (73rd percentile)
  • 98.6 quarterback rating allowed (29th percentile)
  • 12.7 yards per reception (23rd percentile)
  • 1.148 yards per cover snap (30th percentile)

Does this look like a Pro Bowler on the whole? Yes, Ramsey did have a decent rate of forced incompletions and a lot of pass breakups, but he also gave up an astonishing amount of yardage and touchdowns.

In fact, by Pro Football Reference’s Approximate Value stat (which, as its name indicates, attempts to approximate a player’s value), Ramsey’s 8 AV from 2022 is tied with his rookie season for the lowest of his career.

Previous year

It’s always possible that Ramsey’s 2022 performance is an anomaly. After all, he has been considered one of the top cornerbacks in the league since he was drafted No. 4 overall.

Ramsey was better in the 2021 season, allowing 59 catches on 93 targets (63.4% completion rate) for 3 touchdowns, 4 interceptions, and a 74.4 passer rating.

However, the 2021 playoffs suggest otherwise. It appears that teams watched the film closely and realized that Ramsey is more vulnerable than his reputation suggests.

In the Rams’ four playoff games in 2021, Ramsey allowed two deep touchdowns and a 123.3 quarterback rating. There is a strong argument to be made that one of the touchdowns (Tee Higgins’s 75-yard bomb coming out of halftime in the Super Bowl) should have been called back for offensive pass interference, but there’s no denying that Ramsey was flat-out beaten deep by Mike Evans for a critical TD in the Divisional Round.

In general, cornerback play is considered highly volatile. It could be that Ramsey will return to his previous form. But Jets fans saw firsthand how quickly cornerback play can fall off a cliff, particularly when speed starts to wane as the player ages.

Ramsey is entering his age-29 season, just one year younger than Darrelle Revis was when he started to show signs of decline in 2015 (and Revis’s 2015 stats were much better than Ramsey’s 2022 output).

Will the Dolphins try to put Ramsey on an island in 2023? That’s likely to backfire.

Miami’s questionable defense

The Dolphins have several players on their defense whose reputations outweigh their production.

Xavien Howard, the cornerback who will line up opposite Ramsey, is still cashing in on his name that far outpaces his waning skills. Howard allowed 826 yards, 1.262 yards per cover snap, six touchdowns, and a 121.1 quarterback rating in 2022.

Meanwhile, Kader Koahu, the Dolphins’ slot cornerback who was known to have an underrated but solid season, allowed 645 yards in coverage and 1.112 yards per cover snap last season.

Miami returns Bradley Chubb after a contract restructure. From Week 9 forward, Chubb ranked 41st out of 70 qualified edge rushers (min. 160 pass rushes) with an 11.2% pressure rate and 47th with a 13.3% true pass set pressure rate. He did record a decent number of QB hits, tying for the eighth-most in that span with 8. However, his overall production as a pass rusher was middling, as his 1.34% sack rate ranked 42nd.

Overall, Chubb’s 11.7% career pressure rate and 4.5% sack plus hit rate are good representations of what he is: an average pass rusher in terms of consistency but able to make his pressures count.

This is not to say that Miami doesn’t have some intriguing talent on their defense. Jaelan Phillips, Christian Wilkins, and Jevon Holland are three strong players who can cause fits for an opponent. However, to start coronating their defense is very premature.

In fact, there is a strong case to be made that, heading into free agency, the Dolphins’ defense is still the worst in the AFC East.

Rather than worrying about Jalen Ramsey and the Dolphins’ defense, it would do the Jets good to focus on their own. Gang Green got extremely lucky injury-wise on the defensive side of the ball, having the fewest adjusted games lost on defense in 2022. They will need to bolster their talent on that side to offset the inevitable injuries and regression to the mean.

But let this be a greater lesson that a player’s reputation and their play do not always match. That’s another important point to keep in mind as players enter the free-agent market.

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Rivka Boord has followed the Jets since the age of five. She is known locally for her in-depth knowledge of football. She hopes to empower young women to follow their dreams and join the sports conversation. Boord's background in analytics infuses her articles with unique insights into the state of the Jets' franchise and the NFL as a whole.
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