Led by Jamal Adams, the New York Jets secondary ranks among the best in the NFL. Where, exactly, do they land?
Marcus Maye, Morris Claiborne, Trumaine Johnson and, of course, the president himself, strong safety Jamal Adams—a foursome in combination that strikes so much fear into opposing quarterback’s dreams that nightmares automatically occur.
The 2018 New York Jets defensive backfield may arguably represent the best unit in the NFL.
Forget the statistics. The only thing the statistics show is just how good the overall 11-man unit plays together. In 2017, the Jets finished 21st in the NFL in surrendering 234.3 passing yards per contest. This does not mean the secondary played poorly. In fact, they played pretty damn well all season long while boasting two rookie safeties.
A handicap is present coming in the form of the pass rush—more specifically, the conventional four-man pass rush which might be the worst in the league that plays for pay.
Talent alone is enough to understand just how nasty this group is on paper and with the addition of Trumaine Johnson, they’ll absolutely compete for the top defensive back unit in the league.
Here’s how they match up and rank against the other top NFL secondaries:
- FS: Tashaun Gipson
- SS: Barry Church
- CB: Jalen Ramsey
- CB: A.J. Bouye
- NB: D.J. Hayden / Jalen Myrick
The upstart Jacksonville Jaguars are one of two secondaries that are labeled as the best heading into 2018 and it’s quite simple why.
The team led the NFL in pass defense a year ago. With Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye at the two corners, the secondary looks beastly on paper. Just be careful. Make sure you’re separating the secondary from the entire unit that is the pass defense.
The Jags also finished second in sacks with a cool 55 (just one shy of the Pittsburgh Steelers). Deploying such a nasty pass rush does wonders for a defensive backfield and this stuff just isn’t accounted for most of the time.
Perhaps Ramsey is the best corner in the game. Perhaps not. Maybe Bouye is a Pro Bowler like last year. Maybe note. We truly won’t know until they’re playing with an average pass rush.
The two safeties aren’t studs. This much is certain.
- FS: Harrison Smith
- SS: Andrew Sendejo
- CB: Xavier Rhodes
- CB: Trae Waynes
- NB: Mackensie Alexander
- S3: Anthony Harris / Jayron Kearse
Some choose the Jags. Others gladly take the Minnesota Vikings. The argument for the Vikes in comparison to the upstarts on the AFC is that SKOL possesses a stud safety (Harrison Smith) to go along with a stud corner (Xavier Rhodes) while Jacksonville’s two studs are at corner.
Los Angeles Rams
- FS: Lamarcus Joyner
- SS: John Johnson
- CB: Aqib Talib
- CB: Marcus Peters
- NB: Nickell Robey-Coleman
- S3: Blake Countess / Marquie Christian
Nobody knows which Marcus Peters the Los Angeles Rams are receiving. If it’s the 2016 NFL All-Pro version who picked off six passes, watch out.
Along with newly acquired veteran Aqib Talib and Lamarcus Joyner in centerfield, the Rams are a lock as a top-five DB unit. With the best defensive coordinator in the game still on the sideline in Wade Phillips, this unit can be beyond scary in 2018.
- FS: Darian Stewart
- SS: Justin Simmons
- CB: Chris Harris
- CB: Bradley Roby
- NB: William Parks
- S3: Jamal Carter / Su’a Cravens
Much like the Kansas City Chiefs as of late (losing one-time stud Marcus Peters), the Denver Broncos have fallen on hard times. Aquib Talib is gone and so is the elite status of the Broncos defensive backfield.
It also doesn’t help that Wade Phillips is gone.
Los Angeles Chargers
- FS: Adrian Phillips
- SS: Derwin James
- CB: Casey Hayward
- CB: Trevor Williams
- NB: Michael Davis / Desmond King
- S3: Jaylen Watkins
The darkhorse secondary for many heading into 2018 is the Los Angeles Chargers unit.
In adding first-round safety Derwin James, these guys have a shot at elite status if one or two of the starting corners can near Pro-Bowl status.
- FS: Morgan Burnett
- SS: Sean Davis
- CB: Joe Haden
- CB: Artie Burns
- NB: Mike Hilton
- S3: Terrell Edmunds
Not many look at the Pittsburgh Steelers secondary and think elite. Joe Haden’s best days are behind him as are Margan Burnett’s.
They did, however, finish fifth in the land in 2017 in total pass defense (201.1 yards relented per game). In realizing the team also finished first in sacks with 56, odds are the team’s pass rush greatly helped the secondary’s performance.
For now, they are mentioned. But they simply won’t make any top-five lists anytime soon.
- FS: Eric Weddle
- SS: Tony Jefferson
- CB: Brandon Carr
- CB: Jimmy Smith
- NB: Marlon Humphrey
- S3: Anthony Levine / Chuck Clark
Much like the Steelers, the Baltimore Ravens defensive backfield doesn’t shine on paper. Eric Weddle, 33, is still getting it done as the leader of an unassuming group.
Green Bay Packers
- FS: Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
- SS: Josh Jones
- CB: Kevin King
- CB: Tramon Williams
- NB: Jaire Alexander
- S3: Jermaine Whitehead / Kentrell Brice
The fashion for which first-round selection Jaire Alexander plays will be the ultimate factor in how well the Green Bay Packers secondary plays.
Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is still a stud and if Alexander grows quickly, that’s a splendid duo on the rise.
New York Giants
- FS: Darian Thompson
- SS: Landon Collins
- CB: Janoris Jenkins
- CB: Eli Apple
- NB: Curtis Riley / William Gay
- S3: Michael Thomas / Andrew Adams
How in the world could the No. 31 ranked pass defense actually put forth a top 10 secondary the next season? Well, that because the 2017 New York Giants were an anomaly, not the norm.
Eli Apple is rough to watch at times. This means the No. 2 corner slot on the depth chart is tough. But at the No. 1 spot, Janoris Jenkins is a Pro Bowl player teamed with an All-Pro in Landon Collins at safety. The New York Pass Defense might make a comeback this season.
New York Jets
- FS: Marcus Maye
- SS: Jamal Adams
- CB: Trumaine Johnson
- CB: Morris Claiborne
- NB: Parry Nickerson / Buster Skrine
- S3: J.J. Wilcox / Terrence Brooks / Brandon Bryant
Not only do the Jets showcase the names, but they’re deep as well.
We still don’t know who’ll ultimately claim the nickel spot. It can still turn out to be incumbent Buster Skrine or rookie Parry Nickerson. The same can be said for the No. 3 safety spot as all three guys are deserving, making for, perhaps, the best five-man safety group in the NFL.
NFL Secondary Rankings
- Minnesota Vikings
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- New York Jets
- Los Angeles Rams
- Los Angeles Chargers
- Baltimore Ravens
- New York Giants
- Green Bay Packers
- Pittsburgh Steelers
- Denver Broncos
The New York Jets rank No. 3 behind only the Minnesota Vikings and Jacksonville Jaguars.
First and foremost, the Vikes receive the nod over the Jags due to two critical reasons:
- The Jags pass rush is much better.
- The Vikings own a stud corner and safety.
Jacksonville helped out its secondary a year ago with 55 sacks. Minnesota only mustered 37. Though the Jags finished one in pass defense, the Vikings No. 2 spot with far less production from a pass-rushing standpoint makes it an easy decision.
The only other possible unit that could have finished above the Jets is the Rams. Honestly, think about both units. Between both secondaries, who’s the best safety? It has to be Jamal Adams. Lamarcus Joyner is solid, but hasn’t been named to a Pro Bowl in four seasons.
Marcus Peters is a great unknown and Aqib Talib is old at his position. He’ll eventually slow down.
Contrastly, though none of the athletes from the Jets secondary have qualified for the Pro Bowl, both safeties are on the come-up and represent top-tier prospect talent (Adams, All-Pro talent). Trumaine Johnson could have easily been named a Pro Bowlers a season ago.
The New York Jets secondary comes into the season ranked third with the ability to finish atop the NFL. Just make sure you’re judging the secondary on its own merit, not tied in with the defense’s pass rush. It’s a tough thing to measure and accomplish, but it’s the only fair way to grade these back-end athletes who battle top NFL weapons and the rules that continue to bruise DBs’ egos.