Jets deep patrol: Secondary to none?

June, 27, 2010
6/27/10
6:18
AM ET
Sunday Jets notes to remedy your World Cup agita:

Dennis Thurman has coached a lot of great players and a lot of fantastic defensive backfields in his career, and he believes the current Jets secondary has the potential to be the best of them all.

“It could be the deepest we’ve had, even in Baltimore, from top to bottom,” the Jets’ secondary coach told me. “We had some good players in Baltimore, but not the depth we have here. It could be the best secondary I’ve ever had, top to bottom. That’s saying a lot.”

For the record, Thurman considers the 2006 Baltimore Ravens the standard by which all of his secondary units are measured. That was an awesome defense that included S Ed Reed, S Dawan Landry, CB Chris McAlister and CB Samari Rolle as the starters in the secondary (combined interceptions: 19), with Corey Ivy as the top backup. The Ravens finished sixth in pass defense and No. 1 in total defense.

The Jets have five holdovers from a secondary that ranked No. 1 in pass defense, including two starters – CB Darrelle Revis and S Jim Leonhard. The top backups are S Eric Smith, CB/S Dwight Lowery and S James Ihedigbo. Throw in CB Antonio Cromartie, S Brodney Pool and a No. 1 pick (CB Kyle Wilson), and you can see why Thurman is excited. He loves his depth so much that he’s talking about using an eight-DB package for specific situations.

Crazy? Well, they might be vulnerable against the run with that many “smalls” on the field, but Smith and Ihedigbo have the versatility to line up as linebackers in a sub package. That would give opposing offenses a lot to think about. They also have so many clever blitz packages, often overloading one side with a cluster of DBs, that offenses struggle to identify the personnel.

So how do the Jets and the ’06 Ravens stack up? Reed is an all-timer, for sure, but Revis also has that kind of ability. To me, the key is Cromartie. If he can revert to the 2007 version, the guy who made 10 interceptions, the Jets will have two elite corners. There a lot of teams without one elite corner, let alone two. If Cromartie can be that guy, the Jets might make Thurman’s prediction come true.

SOMETHING TO KEEP AN EYE ON

While talking to Thurman, he mentioned that Cromartie was rested for a few reps in minicamp because of a sore hamstring and “somewhat of a hip issue.” That’s interesting because Cromartie played the entire 2008 season with a fractured hip. No one knew it at the time, but he made the revelation shortly after the season ended. He said it happened in the opener.

Could that be a reason why he wasn’t as productive in 2008 and 2009? Will it be a factor this year? It bears watching.

ON THE NEGOTIATING FRONT

Barring something crazy, look for second-round LG Vladimir Ducasse to sign over the next week or so. Right now, the Jets have two draft picks under contract, with Ducasse and Wilson still unsigned. Ducasse (No. 61 overall) figures to land a four-year contract for about $3.4 million, including a signing bonus of about $1 million. Wilson (No. 29 overall) should be about $13.4 million on a five-year deal, including close to $7 million in guarantees.

Once they hammer out those fairly routine deals, the Jets will be able to concentrate on more important matters, like Revis and C Nick Mangold and … you know the list.

THIS AND THAT

Former Jets RB/KR Leon Washington is said to be ahead of schedule in his rehab and his surgically repaired leg should be ready for training camp, according to Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. Washington will be monitored in camp, but this is great news for a player who is battling back from a career-threatening injury. Anybody willing to predict that rookie RB Joe McKnight, Washington’s replacement, has a better year than Washington? Didn’t think so … McKnight (fourth-round pick) signed a four-year deal for $2.36 million, including a signing bonus of about $572,000. Here’s another way to look at the signing bonus: It’s the equivalent of 28 premium PSLs in the Coaches Club section.


Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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