Coleman defends against the Bears offense
The New York Jets selected Drew Coleman, a 5'9", 175-pound cornerback from Texas Christian University, with their sixth round selection last April. His modest goal was to simply come to Hempstead and make a contribution.
"I will do whatever the team prefers me to do the first couple years, but I'm ready for any challenges," Coleman told reporters. "Maybe I will come in and play a little DB at nickel or dime. Even if it's just being a gunner or going down on special teams, I'm ready to help the team."
It wouldn't take long for Coleman to be a factor. After a week three victory at Buffalo, Coleman was named Jets' Special Teams Player of the Week. In just his third professional game, Coleman racked up two tackles on defense and added another stop on special teams.
In week five, the 23-year-old Coleman was inserted into the starting lineup at cornerback against Jacksonville.
"Drew has done a good job with learning the information," said Jets coach Eric Mangini. "You can see that he is working at the things that he has being coached to do, and he has been very consistent in terms of his approach and his work ethic. You are seeing progress from him as a defensive back and as a contributor to the overall defense. As that continues to happen, more and more opportunities for him or for anybody else will develop."
Upon his defensive promotion, Coleman was asked about the challenges associated with covering an NFL receiver.
"The main thing is all of them are so much bigger than me - they are so physical. I have to try to get off blocks and get in there on tackles on the big running backs," he said. "I would say just the physical part, and the fact that I'm smaller than just about everyone else on the field makes it challenging."
In a mid-October win over the Dolphins, Coleman registered a career-high seven tackles (five solo stops) and one pass defensed. Coleman was replaced in the lineup two weeks later, but the TCU alum picked up his first career sack against the Cleveland Browns.
Then after the bye, Coleman returned to the starting lineup against the Patriots and picked up six tackles. His most critical play in the Jets' emotional win came after a missed tackle. Wideout Doug Gabriel made a short second quarter reception in front of Coleman and beat the rookie to the sideline. But following a 22-yard gain, Coleman and linebacker Victor Hobson converged on Gabriel and forced the ball out. Hobson recovered deep inside Jets' territory and Coleman was credited with his first forced fumble of his career, halting a scoring threat in the process.
The Jets, who successfully blitzed repeatedly in their win at the Patriots, didn't blitz as much the following week against the Bears. But they dialed up a blitz on the first play of the fourth quarter and got burned for a score. Trailing just 3-0, the Green & White brought the house and Rex Grossman threw a short pass to Mark Bradley. Coleman, in man coverage, slipped and was unable to make the tackle. That freed Bradley up for a 57-yard touchdown and the Jets would get no closer.
"I just tried to get outside leverage and as I looked up, I was sliding," Coleman said. "I don't know if I slipped or if the turf made me slip, but I fell. I was out of whack, and he made a good move, he faked outside and came back in, so that could have done it, or the turf, or cleats. You could blame a lot of things. He made a good play and got a touchdown; it was a game-changing play."
Coleman, an owner of 4.3 speed, posted only one defensive tackle over the final six regular season games of the '06 campaign. But he gained valuable postseason playoff experience at New England, and he figures to only get better as a sophomore.