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Jeff Ulbrich’s presser squashed NY Jets fan narrative

Jeff Ulbrich, NY Jets, DC, Coaches
Jeff Ulbrich, New York Jets, Getty Images

This New York Jets speculation from fans was all but put to bed by Jeff Ulbrich

If there’s one New York Jets narrative that abounded during the offseason, it was the possible addition of a safety. Justin Simmons’ name is frequently mentioned on podcasts and in free agency articles.

However, defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich squashed that narrative by explaining that the team plans to convert cornerback Isaiah Oliver to safety. Robert Saleh added that the safety room is an open competition between Tony Adams, Chuck Clark, and Ashtyn Davis (which came as a surprise to me).

While it’s possible the Oliver conversion doesn’t stick or they use him only as a contingency plan at safety, this move signals that the Jets don’t plan on adding another safety. It already seemed unlikely given Joe Douglas’ reluctance to spend at the position.

Oliver’s switch to safety is somewhat surprising for a different reason. He presumably joined the Jets to replace Bryce Hall as the Jets’ fifth cornerback. The Jets needed Hall for emergency duty against the Broncos and Eagles in 2023 when D.J. Reed, Sauce Gardner, and Brandin Echols were out with injuries. If Oliver isn’t playing cornerback, that role falls to former CFL player Qwan’tez Stiggers, a fifth-round pick whose rawness Ulbrich highlighted in his press conference.

“I don’t know how much re-training there is, I think he’s still just training, period,” Ulbrich said. “The game is still so new to him… He comes into high school, it was in the midst of Covid, so [he] didn’t play a ton of high school football, and because of that [he] wasn’t really recruited highly… Between the fan-run league, short high school career, and CFL, we’re starting with a blank slate.”

Still, if that’s the Jets’ intention, their safety room is likely complete. If anything, it puts pressure on 2023 sixth-round pick Jarrick Bernard-Converse. The Jets converted Bernard-Converse from cornerback to safety, but he barely played as a rookie. Mr. Irrelevant Jaylen Key also has a stiff uphill climb with added competition at the position.

One way or another, the Simmons dreams should fade into oblivion for Jets fans. Other possible free-agent additions remain, including Connor McGovern, but a safety is likely not one of them.

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20 days ago

I tend to think Saleh is the one who favors or not spending on certain positions, not JD. To a fault, JD has acquiesced to Saleh’s coaching quirks (No Vet CBs his first year, No legit backup veteran QB with Zach, etc.).