As the season nears its merciful end, Adam Gase and the New York Jets are running out of defenders due to injury.
In an ironically cruel sense of timing, Adam Gase and the New York Jets are in desperate need of help in the secondary as a matchup with Jamal Adams looms.
Gase had a dire outlook on his secondary’s injury situation, as he began his Friday statements by declaring that safeties Ashtyn Davis (foot) and Bennett Jackson (hamstring) will miss Sunday’s visit to Seattle (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS). Further ailments on the offensive line, including Greg Van Roten (toe) and injured-reserve listee Alex Lewis (non-football), had Gase joking that he was “looking for volunteers” to finish out the season.
“We have a plan as far as if we had anybody go down, we cross-trained multiple guys,” Gase said, per notes from the Jets. When it comes to the defense, Gase said “We do have two guys that have had some experience playing back there that are ready to go if we have any kind of injury.”
Marcus Maye and Matthias Farley are the only current safeties on the roster with NFL experience. Former Giants draft pick Corey Ballentine has mostly worked on special teams, while practice squad reps Saquan Hampton (a Rutgers alum) and Zane Davis could also be considered. First-year defender Elijah Campbell has also been called up to the active roster. Offensively, rookie draft pick Cameron Clark could take over for Van Roten, who has partaken in 93 percent of New York’s offensive snaps this season.
It sets up quite a conundrum for the Jets (0-12), who will be playing the first of four games under interim defensive coordinator Frank Bush on Sunday. Bush, formerly the team’s inside linebackers coach, is taking over for the ousted Gregg Williams, who was let go after a questionable defensive play call at the end of their latest loss, a 31-28 decision at the hands of the Las Vegas Raiders last weekend.
“These kids have always been resilient,” Bush said of his unit this week, per Jets notes. “One of the most unique things about our players is that, when they hit the field, they hit the field running. They come out with the right intent. The attitudes have always been good. I’m yet to see one day when they come out with a bad attitude and we have to push them to go. We just have to make sure they’re going in the right direction.”
Bush and his group did receive a bit of good news as they go into a dangerous matchup with a Seattle offense boasting the talents of Russell Wilson and DK Metcalf: Gase announced on Friday that he expects Bless Austin to return to the lineup alongside rookie Bryce Hall. Austin, another former Scarlet Knight from Piscataway, has struggled to gain momentum after a strong rookie season after spending time on injured reserve with a neck injury. He was activated this week alongside tight end and fellow sophomore Trevon Wesco. Lamar Jackson will serve as a reserve, should Austin make his start as anticipated.
With the release of Pierre Desir, rookie Bryce Hall will take on an expanded role in the New York Jets secondary.
Kids are running New York now.
The New York Jets bid another one of their veteran starters farewell this week, placing cornerback Pierre Desir on waivers. Desir joins Le’Veon Bell, Steve McLendon, and Avery Williamson as New York starters that have been sent elsewhere as the team sinks further into football oblivion.
With Desir’s departure, younger players will be expected to take on a larger role over the Jets’ remaining seven games. Cornerback Bryce Hall will be among the latest to step up, as he moves to the front of the depth chart with Desir seeking a new team. The Jets (0-9) hit the west coast to battle the Los Angeles Chargers (2-7) in their first-ever visit to SoFi Stadium on Sunday (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS).
Hall was the Jets’ fifth-round pick (158th overall) back in April’s draft, hailing from Virginia. The early portions of his season were spent on the reserve/COVID-19 list and later the non-football injury list, but he made his debut in the Jets’ most recent defeat at the hands of the New England Patriots. He would go on to earn two tackles in his first taste of NFL action. With Desir gone, and Bless Austin recently sent to injured reserve, Hall is expected to play a major role in the Jets’ defense in the final stages of this woebegone season.
“I attacked the rehab process just how I attack my preparation in playing this game,” Hall said this week, per Chris Ryan of NJ Advance Media. “The biggest thing that’s helped me is my faith and just having that positive outlook that I will be able to. I felt like God brought me here for a reason, so he’s like, ‘You’re gonna be fine. You’re gonna have an opportunity. Now keep you know just learn as much as you can, through that process.’”
ESM has a few things to know about the former Cavalier as his big opportunity awaits…
[EDIT: 11/23/20, 4:00 p.m. ET:] A previous version of this article referred to Bishop McDevitt’s nickname as the “Royal Lancers”, rather than the Crusaders. This has been corrected.
He Got His Start on Offense
It’s ironic that Hall has made his modern football living through making life miserable for opposing receivers, as his career began in the position he now neutralizes. He entered the national scene as a receiver at Bishop McDevitt High School, a parochial school in Pennsylvania, earning 2,386 yards and 35 touchdowns over four seasons. Afterward, he was offered two Football Bowl Subdivision scholarship offers, choosing Virginia over Coastal Carolina.
“I think all those years playing receiver have helped with my understanding of what offenses are trying to do and with my ball skills,” Hall said in a pre-draft retrospective with Ron Counts of The Daily Progress. “It was funny because we were so raw in terms of fundamentals and technique. (I) really had to stumble into it and take in whatever the coaches were saying. After a lot of failing and getting roasted multiple times in practice, I started to find my way.”
The switch obviously played out for the better; Hall went on to lead the nation in pass defenses during his junior season in 2018 (21), an accomplishment that helped him earn first-team All-ACC honors at the end of the year.
Hall could’ve been donning the blue and orange threads of the Knicks rather than the green and white of the Jets had he had his way upon reaching the Wyncote, PA campus of Bishop McDevitt. It was the Crusaders’ head football coach, Jeff Weachter, who was able to convince Hall to trade the hardwood for the gridiron permanently after Hall was ready to hang up his helmet during his sophomore season.
“I said ‘You’re kidding. At best, you’re a Division II basketball player. You’re a D-I football player,’” Weachter said in Counts’ report, mentioning that Hall missed the Crusaders’ first scrimmage that season while tending to basketball matters. “He called me the next day on Sunday and said ‘Coach, I made a horrible mistake. Can I still come out?’ I said ‘Of course. But you’re not going to start the first couple games.’ I understood because that’s just Bryce. He wants to be perfect at everything he does, and he wanted to spend that time perfecting basketball.”
Only destiny and fate know how drastically Hall’s life could’ve changed with the decision. True to Weachter’s prediction, he earned a Division I invitation to the Cavaliers, where he not only earned the publicity that led to his drafting, but also met his fiance Anzel Vilojen, a former member of Virginia’s field hockey squad. Days after the Jets brought him to New York, Hall asked Vilojen to marry him in a successful proposal.
He Has Worked Through a Lot of Adversity
The Jets have added several veterans whom they hope can direct the team through these times of adversity, but the rookie Hall can serve as a strong source of inspiration, even as he enters only his second week of NFL action.
Some experts felt that Hall could’ve been a first-round pick had he entered the draft after his junior campaign. Athlon Sports, for example, had Hall ranked in the top ten of their premature 2020 draft rankings. Hall, however, opted to return for his senior campaign, a year that ended early due to a devastating ankle injury. The injury played a major role in his fall from round one to day three.
But Hall never came to regret his decision to return to Charlottesville. In fact, from the moment the injury happened, the defender was looking to glean the positives out of it.
“I feel like I’m already better from it now, because that’s the thing: When you go through difficult things like that, it really molds your character. It just creates something in you that wasn’t possible to be developed before, had you not gone through this process,” Hall said, per Jeff White of Virginia’s official athletics site. “Now I’m in a position where I’m becoming a better leader, and I’m developing different gifts that I feel like I’ve had in me but just haven’t come out, like speaking. I’m usually somebody who leads by example. Now, my voice is the only thing I have to help and encourage and communicate.”
The release of Pierre Desir leaves some lasting ripple effects across the remainder of this New York Jets season…and beyond.
Another week, another veteran bid farewell in the New York Jets organization.
The Jets released starting cornerback and team interceptions leader Pierre Desir on Tuesday, ending his New York career after nine games. Desir joined Steve McLendon and Avery Williamson as Jets defenders that have been sent away in the midst of this lost season.
How does this affect the Jets (0-9) moving forward? ESM investigates…
Let the Kids Play
The macabre silver lining on the Jets’ side is that their winless status leaves them with nothing to lose from a team standpoint, allowing them seven more consequence-free games, seven chances at free research and development for 2021 and beyond. We’ve seen it on offense with Denzel Mims starring on the receiving front and La’mical Perine seeing his workload increase with Le’veon Bell gone. Defensively, this should be fifth-round rookie Bryce Hall’s time to shine. Hall previously relieved Desir through coaching decisions in the late portions of the most recent loss to the New England Patriots.
It certainly appeared that the release of Desir was at least partially made with the younger players in mind after head coach Adam Gase’s comments on Wednesday.
“I think where we’re at right now we’re really looking to play as many of these young guys as possible,” Gase said, Max Goodman of Sports Illustrated. “We just felt like it was the right decision to give him an opportunity to go try to get an opportunity somewhere else. I don’t think a guy with that experience and a guy that’s been a starter for multiple teams, kind of having him play scout team, and possibly be inactive or a backup really wasn’t fair to him. So, we felt like this was the best decision to make and get these young guys out there and play those guys.”
Hall began his NFL career with placement on the COVID-19/reserve list before being moved to the non-football injury list in September. He was activated for his debut in the New England game and earned two tackles. Desir’s departure could be a big opportunity for both he and fellow rookie Lamar Jackson. The undrafted Jackson could return to secondary after partaking almost exclusively on special teams over the past few weeks.
While Joe Douglas’ inaugural draft class has worked out, for the most part, his free agency class has left much to be desired. That’s particularly true for a triumvirate of former Indianapolis Colts defenders who are no longer with the team.
Desir’s release comes after the Jets already bid farewell to his Racing Capital comrades in Nate Hairston and Quincy Wilson. Hairston was serviceable in relief but struggled in two games this season prior to his October waiving. Wilson, brought in through a trade on draft day, likewise failed to make an impact and was let go last week. The previously released pair have already found new homes, with Hairston going to the Ravens and Wilson joining the Jets’ MetLife Stadium co-tenants in blue. Desir has had a tough season (his receivers earned 35 catches against him, ninth-worst in football), but he still has enough talent and experience to head to a contender’s roster and contribute to a playoff run, much like he did during his Indianapolis tenure.
That doesn’t do the Jets any good in the meantime, and the Jets absorb $3.5 million in cap space with the release of Desir, equaling his guaranteed money upon taking a Jets uniform. Fortunately for their cap situation (just over $29 million currently), nothing adversely affects 2021 (where they still have an excess of $80 million to spend). It simply doesn’t bode well for Douglas’ first free agency class that two members (plus one from last season) are already gone.
Follow Pierre Desir (35) on this 31-yard completion that set up Patriots’ game-tying TD.
Many Jets fans are completely indifferent as to whether they win or lose at all in 2020. The hardly-restrained jubilation seen when the Jets blew their lead against the Patriots on social media showed just how apathetic or numb fans have become to this woebegone season. Losing, in their eyes, only contributes to the cause of earning the top overall pick next spring. If it means joining the Lions and Browns in 0-16 infamy, so be it.
But the release of Desir shows that any deviation from a full effort will not be tolerated in New York.
As New England made their comeback, some saw Desir slacking and not chasing after receivers at full speed, leading to his benching for the remainder of the game. Now that he’s gone, it’s up to Hall and company to rise where Desir fell. Being an accomplished veteran isn’t enough to exempt a player from trying to erase the goose egg that resides in the Jets’ win column. Time will tell if it allows them to avoid an imperfect fate, but it’s clear that the Jets believe that Hall gives them the best chance to win a football game.
“Some of these guys that are really young, they’re fun to coach because these guys, they’re all ears, they’re trying to do everything possible to put themselves and the team in the best position possible,” Gase said in a report from Brian Costello of the New York Post. “Last year was a good example of having success with some of these guys that a lot of people didn’t think were very good, and we were able to win some games because of it. We’ve just got to keep getting these guys better and find a way to win it at the end of the game. When we get to the fourth quarter and it’s a close game, let’s go win one of these things.”
The Jets return to action on Sunday afternoon against the Los Angeles Chargers (4:05 p.m. ET, CBS).
While the New York Jets have strengths across-the-board, they do have several weaknesses that could hurt them in 2020. The secondary is a bit thin at the cornerback position, especially after releasing Trumaine Johnson, who failed to earn his keep as the number one option on the defense. The pass rush is also a bit tumultuous, but the Jets took to the draft to try and att competition.
Of course, stating a player is a steal is always optimistic, but the Jets landed two high-upside players that could be immediate starters in the NFL.
1. Bryce Hall
Hall was drafted in the fifth round, and there are a number of analysts who coined him as a potential steal. Injuries derailed him in his senior year with Virginia, and the Jets took advantage of that, landing him in the later rounds. Some projected at Hall as a potential first-round pick if he remained healthy. He’s one of the best man-coverage corners coming out of college and recorded the most pass breakups last season in all of collegiate football.
Scouts are excited about the potential he brings to the NFL, but he does have some weaknesses that require refinement. His lack of ball skills and experience in zone coverage could hold him back a bit, but his strength in man should match up well with the defense Gregg Williams tends to utilize – a nice dosage of off-ball-man.
With Johnson leaving the Jets, Hall is expected to take a more in-depth role quickly. I believe they will allow him to develop earlier in his career, hopefully putting him in a starting position in 2021. However, I wouldn’t rule out the possibility of him earning starting reps early on considering the lack of talent at the position. The Jets currently have Pierre Desir, Quincy Wilson, Arthur Maulet, Bless Austin, and Hall, as their options at corner.
2. Jabari Zuniga
Zuniga is an exciting pass rusher coming out of Florida. In 2018, he posted 45 total tackles, 11 tackles for loss, and 6.5 sacks. However, injury significantly hurt his draft stock, and the New York Jets eventually landed him in the third round. Jabari is a talented athlete with explosive traits, with the capabilities of emerging as a potential start early on in his career.
His strength at the line of scrimmage and aggressive mentality allow him to dominate blockers. His build allows him to play multiple positions, as his length and thick frame give him the necessary tangibles to hold his own.
Zuniga’s motor promotes a more dynamic pass rush style, as he often burns out due to fatigue. Overall, I like his physical abilities and desire to win in the trenches, but he needs a bit more development, especially after coming off a significant ankle injury in 2019. He has incredible upside, similar to Hall, meaning the Jets could’ve landed two solid players on defense moving forward.
Did the New York Jets land a steal in cornerback Bryce Hall?
The New York Jets knew what they were getting in Bryce Hall when they drafted him in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL draft. A considerable amount of NFL analysts coined Hall as a potential steal in the draft, and the Jets managed to grab him in one of the later rounds due to injury in 2019.
Hall was on pace to end up in the first or second rounds, but as stated above, injuries derailed his season and ultimately forced him to settle as a day three draft pick. The Virginia stand-out lead the nation in pass breakups, and his most significant positive is his ability in one-on-one coverage.
Scouts are really excited about his potential, but there are some negatives that he needs to work on at the NFL level. Improving his ball skills, which translates to turnovers, and adapting to a zone coverage system would aid him in his development. However, Hall is a perfect man coverage player for the Jets, who recently cut Trumaine Johnson after his disastrous contract.
Ironically, Hall was formally a wide receiver in high school, which makes his ball skills problem a bit more interesting. Of course, as a receiver, your eyes are on the ball at all times and tracking the throw from your quarterback. As a corner, you have to swing your head around the last second or break on a route to land an interception. The reaction timing and anticipation hast to be there, and that is what Hall really needs to work on.
Analysts have also claimed that he is the epitome of a lockdown corner, and is a player that can take away a section of the field, Revis style.
I believe the Jets will designate him to island duties in the future if he progresses as they hope, but he does need to develop a bit before they can trust him in that role. He is bouncing back from the season-ending ankle injury while featuring on Virginia’s special teams unit. At 6-foot-1, 202 pounds, he has the perfect frame to be a stand-out corner in the future, but the Jets seem dedicated to leaning on Pierre Desir for the time being.
I do like Hall’s mentality toward film work and focusing on improvements on a detailed level. If he can translate all of these positives to the NFL, Bryce could absolutely be one of the bigger steals in the draft. With that being said, I don’t think he will be a starter for the first few games of the 2020 regular season, but since the Jets haven’t invested in a premium level corner, I think he will begin to earn starting wrap sooner rather than later.
Why did Bryce Hall fall to the fifth round for the New York Jets, and what did they get in the talented cornerback?
When the Jets landed Bryce Hall in the fifth-round of the 2020 NFL Draft, most were blown away at the value of the selection. The former Virginia star is in a position to pick up where he left off in 2018, leading the FBS with 22 pass breakups, 62 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles.
Hall has fantastic size at 6’1″, 202-pounds, and after undergoing surgery on his left ankle, he missed ample playing time in 2019. Hall believes missing so much time last season played a significant part in his draft-stock tumbling:
“I think that definitely played a factor in me going a lot later than where I went, but at the end of the day I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be,” Hall said after he was taken with the No. 158th overall selection. “I know God brought me here for a reason. I don’t ask too many questions that are above my head and I’m here now, so I’m ready to look forward from now on.”
Hall might be the steal of the draft for the Jets according to one senior advisor:
“He clearly was a first-three-rounds type of prospect. There were mock drafts literally a year ago that had him in the first round,” said Phil Savage, GM Joe Douglas’ senior advisor. “I think realistically he was a second- or third-round kind of talent. He unfortunately had that ankle fracture and he’s not able to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl and he’s not able to participate in the combine. Then with this pandemic, there was really no way to ultimately follow up with him from a medical standpoint other than just the combine.”
What does Hall bring to the Jets?
Bryce is a very instinctive corner that works primarily on the outside. His long arms allow him to disturb passes and torture opposing receivers in coverage. He still needs some refinement in his hip movements as they can lack fluidity, but he’s fast and can match up with pass-catchers on vertical routes. Good agility and reactionary instincts allow him to play off-ball coverage and break well. He’s decent in man-coverage but could use more awareness on stop-and-go routes, getting beat deep on occasion.
Hall can undoubtedly be a quality starting corner for the Jets, but I believe he will need more time to develop.
Throughout this offseason, New York Jets GM Joe Douglas has been very active in signing players to prove it deals to attempt to fill critical needs. He’s also been very aggressive in trying to fill one of the Jets’ biggest voids. Last season the Jets’ cornerback group was one of the worst in football. With minimal depth and no proven entities, the Jets had to upgrade the position this the offseason.
They released Trumaine Johnson and Darryl Roberts, two bad signings from the old regime, and added Pierre Desir on a one year deal. They also brought back Brian Poole on a one year deal as well. The Jets still have Bless Austin, Nate Hairston, and Arthur Maulet, but they looked to upgrade the position in the draft.
The Jets then came out of the draft with two more new corners—Bryce Hall from Virginia and 23-year-old former second-rounder from the Colts, Quincy Wilson. Although there were reports before the draft of the Jets’ interest in CB Logan Ryan, it seemed as though the team was comfortable with their corners. Well, apparently they were not. The New York Jets have reportedly signed Logan Ryan to a one year deal per Manish Mehta of the NY Daily News.
Who is Logan Ryan?
As we’ve covered extensively here at ESM, Logan Ryan is a reliable veteran coming off a very successful season. Ryan is a hometown kid who attended Rutgers University. After a solid career there, Ryan was drafted in the 3rd Round of 2013 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots. When Ryan debuted, he immediately carved himself a role with the Pats. Ryan was an excellent corner with them until he left in 2016.
He then joined the Titans, where he’s been coached by Mike Vrabel. He comes from a very good coaching tree, and he’s got a championship pedigree with two rings under his belt. Ryan is also 29 years old; he’s still got a few years of good football left. After remaining unsigned for the first two months or so of free agency, he now goes to a team in need of a reliable lead corner.
How Will Ryan Fit?
Logan Ryan is coming off a season where he had 113 tackles, 4 INTs, and 4 TFLs. In one of the best years of his career, he also picked off his former teammate, Tom Brady, in what was ultimately the last play of Brady’s time in New England. Now the former Patriot is coming home to the Jets.
Ryan will be tasked with leading a young cornerback group while also trying to perform well to earn himself a long term deal. What better coach to have with that pressure then one of the best defensive coordinators in the game, Gregg Williams. The opportunity to play under Gregg has been a critical reason that players like Brian Poole and Jordan Jenkins took such cheap deals to return to the Jets and is likely a reason Logan Ryan is coming to Gang Green. Williams gets the best out of his players, and he will try to do that with a veteran player who’s had a lot of success.
Even if this move bombs, the Jets have loads of young talent in the secondary that need mentorship. Bryce Hall and Bless Austin could both benefit from learning behind an experienced player, and even Quincy Wilson and Pierre Desir could pick up a thing or two from Ryan. Overall, the Jets have solidified their secondary for the upcoming season and formulated serious competition for the starting roles.
If there is anything you can pull from this offseason, it’s that Joe Douglas likes two things, leadership and establishing competition. By adding a talented player like Logan Ryan, he did just that.
No matter how your week is going, it’s going to very hard to stop how the past few days have gone fro Bryce Hall.
The former Virginia cornerback was first chosen by the New York Jets last Saturday afternoon in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Hall has now donned a ring before playing his first professional down.
On Instagram, Hall revealed that he proposed to his girlfriend, fellow Virginia Cavalier Anzel Vilojen. Like Hall, Vilojen partook in Virginia athletics, representing the school’s field hockey team as a back. She led the team with 26 points (7 goals, 12 assists) and helped them reach the semifinals of the 2019 NCAA Division I Field Hockey Championship in November. The New Zealand native also earned second-team All-ACC honors.
Hall shared his surprise proposal, which Viojen accepted, on Instagram.
“She’s in it for the long Hall,” Hall declares in his caption “excited [sic] and ready to start this next phase of life with my best friend, lover, ride or die and answer to all of my prayers!!”
In the video, Hall is asked by an unseen party what convinced him that Violjen was “the one”. He happily recalled Vilojen visiting him in the hospital after a broken ankle suffered in an October tilt against Miami ended his season.
“When she came to my hospital after I had broken my ankle, that’s when I was like, yeah this is the one, “It was 11:00 at night, everybody else went home and it was just me and her chatting it up. So I knew she was one to keep then.”
Hall’s engagement comes five days after he was the penultimate pick (158th overall) of the Jets’ 2020 draft proceedings. He put up 154 tackles and five interceptions during his four-year tenure in Charlottesville to go with 38 pass breakups. Of that latter tally, 21 came in 2018, which led the nation.
Entering the second half of their Saturday selections, the New York Jets made Virginia cornerback Bryce Hall their fourth pick of the day.
With their fourth of six late selections, the New York Jets added cornerback Bryce Hall out of Virginia with the 158th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Hall missed most of his senior season in Charlottesville after undergoing ankle surgery. He nonetheless was able to make a name for himself during his junior year, tallying 21 pass breakups, good for best in the nation and the 13th-best single-season mark in NCAA history. Overall, Hall tallied 38 pass breakups to accompany 154 tackles and five interceptions during his time as a Cavalier.
The cornerback becomes the Jets’ first Virginia alum taken in the draft since 2013’s fifth-round tackle Oday Aboushi.
Barring any trades, the Jets have two more picks to work with on Saturday. They next pick in the 191st slot before potentially ending the afternoon at No. 211 with a pick acquired from Kansas City.