The last time the New York Jets had a defensive back lead the NFL in interceptions, Ty Law recorded 10 takeaways in 2005. Safety Jordan Whitehead currently sits atop the leaderboard in 2023 and added to his bank account in the process.
ESPN NFL Insider Field Yates broke down how Whitehead earned a $250,000 incentive for his dominance against Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills in Week 1:
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly For Jets’ Whitehead
Whitehead remains tied for the league lead in takeaways after doing all of his dirty work in the department in Week 1. His three interceptions set the Jets’ single-game record and are tied for the second-most in a game in NFL history.
Cashing out on incentives and putting his name in the record books had to have felt good for the 26-year-old former Super Bowl Champion, but since then, he’s lost a bit of steam.
Pro Football Focus has given him a 65.8 player grade on the year. That places him at No. 40 among all safeties that have played at least 100 snaps this season. He was targeted five times and allowed three receptions for 82 yards and 42 yards after the catch in Week 3 against the New England Patriots.
He currently has the third-most missed tackles (6) at the position. Half of those came in Week 4 against the Kansas City Chiefs, though the secondary as a unit did a good job backing up their pass rush in containing Patrick Mahomes.
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What Lies Ahead For Whitehead and the Jets’ Secondary?
Two of the next three games on the Jets’ schedule pose threats to their secondary. They take on the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday before their Week 7 bye. An easier matchup against a reeling New York Giants squad in Week 8 precedes a Week 9 battle against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Eagles QB Jalen Hurts will keep Whitehead on his toes with his dual-threat capabilities while Chargers QB Justin Herbert has only thrown one interception in 2023 and has found success in completing passes downfield.