Green & White S Legend Erik Coleman 'Very Impressed' with Secondary's Play Individually and as a UnitRandy Lange
We've sung the praises of Sauce Gardner, D.J. Reed, Jordan Whitehead and Lamarcus Joyner on a regular basis this season. But what about the four base defensive backs as a whole? What can we say about that unit?
Among a lot of things, we can say the Jets DBs as one organism has the stability of a sequoia. Except with eight legs and eight arms of course. Everyone in the quartet has nine starts and looks to be heading toward start No. 10 at New England on Sunday.
And their play counts further underscore this steadiness. Reed and Joyner have played all 614 defensive plays, and all four have played 600-plus defensive snaps - four of only five Jets to reach that many scrimmage snaps this season. (LB C.J. Mosley is the fifth.)
"It's a very important part of what we do," Erik Coleman, the former Jets safety whose appearance in this story will soon be revealed, said of the availability part of the DB equation. "There's so much communication that goes on before the snap. When you have a good understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of your fellow members in the secondary, it really does help you in the way you play.
"There's verbal communication but also just body-language communication. I can remember playing with Ty Law and before the snap he might give me a tap on his facemask, and that might let me know he was going to jump a route, he saw something that tipped him off. That's the communication and trust you gain by playing all these games together."
The Jets' current gang of four haven't completed this task yet but they are more than halfway to starting all of the regular-season games together without one missed game. Thus, they could eventually land on the chart below. In only three seasons since 1967 has a Jets base secondary had the same four starters for every game that season, the most recent being 2004, which was Coleman's rookie campaign with the Green & White:
This stability has helped secure a few more high-flying numbers for the Jets' DB unit and the pass defense:
■ Opponents' combined passer rating is 74.3, which is second in the NFL behind only Philadelphia's 67.9 and is the Jets' best after 10 weeks of a season since the 2011 squad had a 67.4.
■ Related to passer rating, the Jets have 11 INTs this season while yielding nine touchdown passes, a plus-2 INT-to-TDP margin that is the team's best since the '11 team was a plus-5 after 10 weeks (13 to 8).
■ The Jets' 48 pass defenses are tied for fifth-most in the NFL and are on pace to at least threaten the Green & White's best full-regular--season PD totals of 94 by the 1998 team and 93 by the '97 team.
■ The pass defense is ninth in the league with 201.1 net yards allowed/game (which includes sacks) and third in allowing 5.78 yards/pass play. The Jets could have their best combo finish in those two categories since the 2009 team finished first in both yards/game and yards/play.
Of course, in the 100% injury sport that is the NFL, stability is golden but talent is also invaluable. And Coleman, who these days shows up on The Betting Exchange and Odds with Ends on MSG Network and can pop up on almost any platform these days, including Jets gameday shows on newyorkjets.com, thinks the Jets have loads of both.
"I've been very impressed," he said. "D.J. Reed and Sauce have done a great job in man coverage. They're physical, they're not backing down to any receivers, they're contesting a lot of passes. When you get a young corner like Sauce going up against big-name receivers, you see, a lot of times, hesitation. Sauce isn't hesitating. He isn't giving receivers any room, he's challenging them vertically. And so is D.J.
"Whitehead and Joyner have been doing a great job of being physical, establishing dominance in the back end across the middle. And as a unit, there's a lot of chemistry, you're not seeing a lot of breakdowns in coverage. The communication has been great. They've been doing a great job."