The New York Jets are heading into Sunday’s game against the New York Giants with an injured and depleted cornerback unit.
Prior to the season, I wrote why the New York Jets‘ secondary is better than most expected. For the most part, that analysis held true. The Jets cornerbacks rank 18th in Pro Football Focus ratings at the position.
The issue is that injuries have piled up and crushed the team’s depth. Trumaine Johnson may not be a good corner, but he’s playable at the very least. He was recently put injured reserve, ending his season.
Darryl Roberts has been up-and-down all year. He flashes excellent potential every now and then. For example, when he was covering Odell Beckham Jr. during the Cleveland Browns game, he mostly kept him in check. Then he plays games as he did against Miami. It’s frustrating.
Still, Roberts isn’t an awful cornerback. Like Johnson, he’s a capable No. 2 on a team with a real No. 1 on the other side of the field. Roberts is doubtful on Sunday against the Giants. He hurt his calf and it’s unclear how long it may sideline him.
As a result of these injuries, the Jets are going to need bottom-of-the-barrel players to step up in a big way.
Brian Poole has been one of the few bright spots in 2019 for the Jets. He’s been one of the best slot corners in the NFL by any metric.
However, Poole isn’t an outside cornerback. He lacks size, speed, and strength to play the position. Poole excels in anticipating routes and making small receivers uncomfortable. He does that well.
Poole is the biggest reason why no slot receiver has put up 100 yards against Jets this year. Not even Julian Edelman.
Putting Poole on the outside would be a disaster—just like Buster Skrine before him. Certain players excel in certain roles, and for Poole, that’s the slot.
Despite that, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams mentioned that Poole is an option to start outside on Sunday. That’s a sure-fire way to misuse the best corner on the roster.
Hairston has been and out the lineup this year. The Jets acquired him for a sixth-round pick and he’s expected to continue replacing Trumaine Johnson in the lineup.
The fourth-year man out of Temple has been mostly awful this season. He was time and again against Miami. He doesn’t have an interception and only has one pass defended this season, which came in his first game of the season.
So, he’s been ineffective for weeks now. Fans have, rightfully, crushed Johnson, but at least he made plays on the ball. Johnson had an interception and two other passes defended this season.
Although Johnson has not impressed this season and isn’t living up to his contract, Hairston is a significant downgrade. That should scare Jets fans who thought the cornerback play couldn’t get any worse.
Maulet signed a reserve contract with the Jets in January of 2019. This is his fourth team since he went undrafted in 2017.
Maulet created a role for himself on special teams. He scored a touchdown on a recovered muffed fumble against the Patriots.
However, his play at cornerback is a nightmare thus far. During preseason, he was often relegated to the third-team defense, playing behind players who were eventually cut.
He has played a single defensive snap this season and on that play, he gave up a 16-yard reception. If Maulet is playing for an extended period of time, the Jets are deep trouble.
If Maulet starts for Darryl Roberts on Sunday, he would be one of, if not the worst starting corner in the league.
Bless Austin was the Jets’ sixth-round pick in the 2019 draft. He missed all of training camp, preseason, and the first eight weeks of the season recovering from a torn ACL, his second in two years. Austin has only played five games in the last two years.
Yet, the Jets felt comfortable drafting him this past year. They must have seen something liked when they scouted him.
Austin isn’t expected to play on Sunday. This week was his first week of full NFL practice. When asked about Bless Austin possibly playing Gregg Williams all but dismissed him.
Jets DC Gregg Williams on whether rookie CB Bless Austin can play Sunday: Notes that Austin hasn’t played a football game since early last fall and “I haven’t seen Rutgers on the Alabama schedule.” #Jets
— Rich Cimini (@RichCimini) November 8, 2019
While Austin isn’t expected to play Sunday, he’ll likely see the field at some point this year. The Jets are going to want to get a look at their sixth-round pick when the rest of their roster is injured.
Canady is the newest Jet, with the team claiming him waivers this week from the Ravens. He has prototypical size at 6-foot-1 but lacks tremendous speed. He only ran a 4.49 forty at the combine in 2016.
Canady was the Ravens’ sixth-round pick in 2016. He’s seen his career derailed by injuries, having been placed on IR each of the last three years.
He’s finally been healthy this year, but didn’t make the team out of camp and was placed on the practice squad. However, he eventually earned an opportunity to play.
Canady is putting up decent numbers this season. He has 21 tackles, one interception, one forced fumble, and three other passes defended. So why did the Ravens cut him?
Canady hasn’t played since the Ravens acquired Marcus Peters. He allowed a 96.8 passer rating against. He’s also allowed 14.8 yards per reception.
Canady seems the most likely choice to replace Darryl Roberts in the lineup on Sunday, but he’s a clear step below Roberts in coverage.