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Assessing the Roster- Safety

LaRon Landry- I think Landry became a fan favorite in New York due to some hard hits and the fact that he was not Eric Smith. While I did not think Landry was deserving of the Pro Bowl I thought he had a very good season for the Jets and was one of the players that helped give parts of the defense some attitude. As a run defender I think he was certainly above average and made plays that prevented huge gains when the defense up front was struggling. When it came to defending the pass I donít think Landry is a big contributor, but what he did not do was allow the game changing plays that Smith allowed in 2010 and especially in 2011. Landry rarely stopped a pass and was targeted often but he was almost always in position to make a stop right after the catch. As a $3.5 million dollar player Landry was great. At $7 million I donít think I would be saying that. He does gamble sometimes and that leads to him getting caught out of position. There are times when I think he is more concerned with being a heat seeking missile than a football player and those kinds of plays can be very negative when the missile is a dud. Not only that but those kind of plays open him up to injury and suspension. But for this past year he played his 16 games and itís a shame we did not have a player like that these last two seasons. If the Jets had a LaRon Landry in Pittsburgh in 2010 I donít think they would have that first half running success. If the Jets had a LaRon Landry in 2011 they would have made the playoffs. That was how bad the safety play was those two years.

Yeremiah Bell- I found Bell to be one of the biggest pleasant surprises on the team. I routinely would target Bell the last few years as a guy who no longer had the range to cover and I think he ended up being the more valuable of the two safeties even though he didnít have the sizzle of Landry. I think Bell is a perfect example of how building with complementary part s makes everyone else look better than they may be individually. In Miami they never had the defensive coaching that you get in New York with Rex Ryan nor cornerbacks that played anywhere near the level of Cromartie. It takes a ton of responsibility and great play to make up for breakdowns in Miami than it did here.

Very rarely did I ever see Bell do anything blatantly bad. As I type this I cant really recall one specific instance. He just blended in perfectly and was a better version of Jim Leonhard because he has physical tools that Jim was never blessed with. Bell is the perfect example of the type of veteran that every team could use on their team. He also gets bonus points in my book for telling Bart Scott to shut his mouth.

Eric Smith- Smith began the year injured, but once healed became a regular fixture whenever the jets needed to employ extra defensive backs. And just like in the past whenever he was on the field you got the feeling the other team saw it and exploited it. Smith is just such a liability in coverage that it begs the question as to why he is on the field. In the NFL one or two plays is what makes the difference in a game and too often he is somehow involved in these difference making plays. Smith is a good special team player, but he should only be used in a pinch on defense.

Antonio Allen- Allen bounced back and forth between the practice squad and the active roster all year as he seemed to be a moving piece whenever the Jets needed roster help. Going back to the preseason I thought Allen looked excellent and deserved more opportunities. In his brief appearances this year we saw yet again why looking too much at the preseason as an indicator of anything is just a waste of time. Allen didnít look awful or anything but he didnít look good either. His pass coverage was terrible and it was clear he has a lot to learn before being handed significant playing time.

Josh Bush- Bush survived the year on the roster, but was strictly in on special teams, rarely playing on defense this year.

Overall

Bell and Landry were certainly a plus in 2012, but who knows what the future holds in 2013. Bell and Landry are both free agents while Smith is a guaranteed cut. So come March 1st or whenever the official start of the league year is, the only Jets Safeties on the roster will be Allen and Bush who didnít even play 100 snaps combined on defense last season. So the Jets have decisions to make.

If Rex Ryan is going to be here long term than I think his defense needs one of those long safeties with range that can pick off passes. They have been lacking that on the roster since the day they traded Kerry Rhodes, though its not as if Rhodes was doing that in his one year with Rex. I donít see Landry as the type of fit, especially at a high price tag and with the injury history, to really do it for the team. Ed Reed of the Ravens is a free agent and he may be willing to come over on a moderate priced deal depending on what the Ravens plans are with him. With the cap and the need to get younger I wouldnít lean on that but I do think its an option.

The name I would throw out there as a one year risky chance contract is Kenny Phillips of the Giants. He has battled injuries his whole career and after the solid 2010 and 2011 campaigns they came back in 2012. I would try and convince him to take a deal similar to the one Landry took and try to sell him on the fact that Rex is a mastermind with the secondary. Phillips has the skillset needed to thrive in this defense and pick off passes if he can stay healthy. Thatís a big if, but with the Jets whole team in a state of flux I would not mind taking a chance on that type of player.

Bell should definitely come back. He is low cost and a good presence on and off the field. If Smith take a veteran minimum contract they can bring him back as well. If the Jets do not take a chance on a Phillips type I do think they could go in the draft and go after a safety. I know its tough to picture the Jets continuing to focus on defense in the draft, but the offensive positions they need are so risky that the value may be stockpiling offensive talent round 2 to 7 and just taking best available in round 1 and you can often get great Safeties high in the draft. I guess if they keep the cornerbacks on the team they can also consider making the move to switch one of the secondary corners to playing Safety.

Either way, I am confident that Bell will be back and solidify one spot. I just hope they find a reasonably cost option to fill the other spot rather than overspending on Landry only to see him get injured for most of the next two seasons.

Well that does it for our look at the current Jets roster and the prospects for 2013. Hope all the readers enjoyed the little look at the team and our future. Starting next week I may do some cap articles that have been requested about certain players (Harris, Holmes etcÖ) or looking at our divisional rivals from a cap standpoint. If there is anything else that jumps into your mind feel free to shoot me an email and I can work up a post to answer any question you may have.

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