Sheldon Rankins was on the defensive line for about half of the snaps last Sunday and turned in a strong performance: 2 tackles, a sack (for 7 yards), a tackle for loss and a QB hit. It was from the sideline, however, that the veteran who is now in his sixth season in the NFL, came up with some keen observations as Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson threw four interceptions in the 25-6 loss to New England.
"We understand what we have with Zach," Rankins said after the game. "The talent is off the charts. He continues to flash and show the things that make him special. We've just got to allow him to continue to grow and be himself and not allow his negatives, his bad plays, to knock down his confidence. We've got to continue to build him up."
Rankins, 27, played five seasons with New Orleans, watching as the veteran Drew Brees put his stamp on the franchise. An injury limited him his first season in the league, but Rankins played in all 16 regular-season games for the Saints in 2017 (2 sacks, 16 solo tackles, 5 TFLs and 9 QB hits) and 2018 (8 sacks, 25 solo tackles, 12TFLs and 15 QB hits). His production was off the past two seasons as he dealt with Achilles tendon and knee injuries. He's well aware that most QBs have their ups and downs, and he admonished Jets fans to give Wilson some slack as the rookie navigates his first season in the NFL.
"If I had anything to say to Jets fans, it's just continue to be patient with the process," Rankins said. "We've got the pieces. We've got the players. We've got the coaches. This thing's going to turn around.
"To change a culture is not easy, especially from a culture that's lost for a long time. It's not easy, and especially in a division where you've got a team like the Patriots who have run it for a long time. You've got Buffalo who's playing well now. You've got Miami who's doing some good things now.
"So people have just got to continue to be patient with the process, and I know people have been patient for a while. But at the end of the day, we'll get it done. But it's going to take some time."
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CB Bryce Hall: 'Every Single Play Matters'Soft-spoken and serious, Bryce Hall has been tagged as the "veteran" among the Jets' cornerbacks — even though he's only in his second season in the NFL.
Against the Patriots, Hall and the Green & White's young corps of CBs again had a strong game as the unit eases into the 2021 regular season. In Sunday's game, Hall was on the field for 97% of the defensive snaps, making 6 tackles (1 for a loss) against the Patriots.
"That's the thing, when you play corner you never know when the ball is coming your way," he said. "You have to treat it like every play is coming your way. Though for me, even though it hasn't come my way a lot, I just can't relax. Now, I detail my work because when it does come my way — and it will — I will be ready and I'll be precise and make the plays."
Teamed mostly with Brandin Echols and Michael Carter II at CB, along with Javelin Guidry, the group drew praise from head coach Robert Saleh for its play through two games and ahead of Sunday's visit to Denver to face the Broncos.
"We can be better, with regards to zone eyes and all that stuff," Saleh said. "[Javelin] Guidry, Michael Carter II, [Brandin] Echols, Bryce have been playing fantastic. And they're only going to get better, with more reps and the things they see. They got tested on a couple of go balls, Echols got tested on a couple go balls, plus a comeback, and he was up to the challenge on two of them, Guidry got tested and he won on one. They're going to get tested and they're going to continue to win. To me, it's a wasted effort by the offense. If they want to play the 50-50 game, we'll take it. But it's hats off to them, they've been doing a really nice job."
Drafted in the fifth round in 2020 out of Virginia after an ankle injury ended his collegiate career, Hall's first taste of action in the NFL didn't come until the Week 9 game vs. the Patriots. This season, Hall has been a starter from the get-go.
"One of the things I'm talking about is that every single play matters," he said. "I think we were fighting, we didn't give up and I think it shows the heart and foundation of this team. We're building and coming together as a team. We'll be all right. We're going to grow after this."