This is the fifth of eight position reviews of the Jets' 2010 season that will be appearing in the next several weeks on newyorkjets.com.**
It's impossible to talk about the Jets' DBs without mentioning DR first. The Green & White have the NFL's best cornerback in Darrelle Revis and he was back to his dominating ways in 2010.
"We'll be multiple with what we do with Darrelle, but there's only one of him. If we had more, that would be great. I'd sign up for that," said head coach Rex Ryan. "But he's the best in the business. Regardless of who we put him on, that's probably not a good thing for that person."
Revis, who ended a summer holdout a week before the regular season and missed 2½ games of meaningful action due to a hamstring injury he suffered in the Week 2 win over the Patriots, was voted to his third consecutive Pro Bowl after finishing with 13 passes defended, 35 tackles and two fumble recoveries.
His regular-season markings included Lions WR Calvin Johnson (one reception, 13 yards), Andre Johnson (4-32) and Terrell Owens (3-17). But his most masterful performance probably came in the first round of the playoffs when he totally eliminated Colts wideout Reggie Wayne, a brilliant target who caught 111 balls in the "first season" but was held to one reception for one measly yard in the Jets' thrilling 17-16 triumph at Lucas Oil Stadium.
"I know he's probably not going to win the Defensive Player of the Year award, but the impact he has is amazing," said Ryan as the Green & White went on another road playoff run. "We were able to do some coverages during the game where we actually played man coverage strictly on his side regardless of who the receiver was and roll their coverage away from it. You only do that if you have Darrelle Revis. He's an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime player and we took advantage of him."
To find a complement for Revis, New York's AFC representative went the trade route last March to acquire Antonio Cromartie from the Chargers. Blessed with tremendous athleticism, Cromartie tied for the team lead with three picks and his 18 PDs were a Jets high. And Cro also pitched in with one of the most critical special teams plays in franchise history, returning a Pat McAfee kickoff 47 yards with under a minute to play in Indy to help set up Nick Folk's game-winner.
"By and large, he had a good year for us on the field. He wasn't perfect, but he played well. I'm glad he was a Jet," said general manager Mike Tannenbaum of Cromartie, who is set to become part of the Jets' 17-player unrestricted free agency class when a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is reached. "He did everything we asked of him. I thought he got better. I think he has a great coach in Dennis Thurman, who works very carefully on his techniques."
Thurman had to adjust quite a bit in 2010. According to pressbox stats, the Jets actually gave starts to nine members of their secondary throughout the season, including four new starters — Cromartie, rookie corner Kyle Wilson, the Boise State product who was the No. 29 overall selection in the draft; safety Brodney Pool, a free agent signee who played five seasons with the Browns, and Marquice Cole, a core special teamer who started in the season finale against the Bills and pulled in two interceptions.
The Green & White suffered a devastating emotional blow in early December when their defensive quarterback, S Jim Leonhard, fractured his right tibia in practice and was subsequently placed on injured reserve. They proceeded to get tagged, 45-3, by the Patriots on national television as the Men of Belichick amassed an astounding 211 yards after the catch.
But both Pool and Eric Smith would step up their games down the stretch. They were tremendous in the postseason against both the Colts and Patriots in the playoffs as the blitz-happy Jets opted to drop in coverage and stymie a pair of future Hall of Famers in Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
"With Jim being gone, it was a sink-or-swim type mentality where Eric and Brodney looked at each other and said, 'Hey, we have to get this done,' " said coordinator Mike Pettine. "To their credit, they both did a great job from the extra preparation. Both of them are quiet guys and I think it's forced both of them to come out of their shell a little bit and they have both done it."
The Jets had a fascinating statistical season from a secondary perspective. Their 12 interceptions were their fifth-lowest total in franchise history, but the 50.7 completion percentage of opposition quarterbacks was the best mark in all of football in 2011 and the best mark in Jets football since 1971.
They ranked sixth overall in pass defense, yielding 200.6 yards per game. But they were also victimized by 48 completions of 20-plus yards and that ranked tied for 17th. And after the defense struggled early in the year to get off the field on third down, they finished at a more-than-respectable 37 percent.
While DB depth was questioned by skeptics in the summer, it actually became an area of strength. Drew Coleman and Dwight Lowery were both quality examples as the former played his way into the rotation and also became an effective blitzer in sub packages with four sacks and a team-leading five forced fumbles and the latter was a hybrid DB who tied Cro for the team lead with three picks and took back two INTs to the house.
"Drew is one of those guys where he maybe doesn't have all the measurables that you would want but he's just a football player," said Pettine of the 5'9", 180-pound Coleman. "He makes plays. He's got good instincts. Typically, when the game's over and the smoke clears, you look at it and say, 'Wow, Drew did a good job.' "
We'd be remiss if we didn't mention James Ihedigbo as well, as the big hitter finished second on the club with 27 special-teams tackles in regular-season action and racked up three sacks. "Dig" joins Cromartie, Coleman and Eric Smith as there is a quartet of DBs scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency.
Tannenbaum has stated that he would like to keep Cromartie in the fold. Regardless if Cro stays or goes, Wilson will be one to track in his sophomore campaign.
"I thought Kyle was somewhat inconsistent this year. Certainly, he had a big opportunity early with Darrelle's holdout, and then as the year went on, Drew Coleman was playing better at the time," Tannenbaum said.
"Kyle's future is one of our paramount objectives for the offseason, in terms of his development. I think he has a great work ethic. I think he loves the game. I expect that he's going to be a contributor for us for years to come. I'm glad he's here and we'll need him to play at a higher, more consistent level next year."
The Jets' No. 6 ranking in gross passing yards allowed made them a top-six passing defense in back-to-back seasons for the first time since the 1970 merger. And in 2009-10 combined, they were the top NFL pass defense in two net-yards (including sack yardage) measures:
Monday, Feb. 14 —**Quarterbacks**
Wednesday, Feb. 16 —**Running Backs**
Friday, Feb. 18 —**Wide Receivers/Tight Ends**
Monday — Offensive Linemen