Defenders reign supreme, but a strong offseason wasn’t enough for the New York Jets to impress the powers that be at EA Sports.
Put EA Sports on the list of so-called experts the New York Jets will be looking to prove wrong in 2021.
The unveiling of player ratings for EA’s upcoming pro football simulator Madden NFL 22 (the 35th edition of the long-running video game franchise) is complete after Saturday, released in conjunction with ESPN programs. In terms of overall team ratings, the Jets round out the list of 32 teams, coming in last with a mark of 72.
The effects of last year’s two-win endeavor apparently still weigh heavily on the Jets, whose strong offseason failed to impress EA’s talent evaluators. Their plunge becomes particularly visible when it comes to the offense, as they’re the only unit ranked below 70 with a 69 (right behind 31st-ranked and fellow AFC East competitor Miami). They fare slightly better on defense, as their label of 74 is tied for third-worst on the list with Cincinnati and Detroit. Only Atlanta (73) and Houston (72) trail.
In individual cases, Quinnen Williams tops the Jets’ personal rankings with an 86 rating. It’s an eight-point improvement from the opening rankings of Madden NFL 21, which perfectly showcase the transformation the Jets have gone through over the past year. Of the top 15 names in the Jets’ ratings from last season, only four (Williams, C.J. Mosley, Marcus Maye, and Jamison Crowder) remain.
Defenders take the first four spots of Jets’ ratings and seven of the first ten. Williams is followed by Maye (85), Mosley (84), and Carl Lawson (83). The offensive group is paced by receiver Corey Davis, who’s tied with his fellow New York newcomer Lawson (83).
As previously reported, Zach Wilson earned a 75 overall rating, second amongst rookie passers behind Trevor Lawrence. Wilson is tied for the fourth-best rating amongst rookies overall, tied with receivers JaMarr Chase and DeVonta Smith. Though he was upset with his respectable change of direction rate of 93, rookie catcher Elijah Moore nonetheless tied for the team lead in the subsection with Crowder.
Five players were granted access to the “99 Club” as gainers of the game’s top possible rating. The Los Angeles Rams (Aaron Donald, Jalen Ramsey) put in two each, as did the Kansas City Chiefs (Patrick Mahomes, Travis Kelce). They’re joined by Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams. One such member, Mahomes, graces the cover with fellow Super Bowl LV competitor Tom Brady.
Madden NFL 22 will be released on August 20. The game can be pre-ordered on several platforms on its official site.
The New York Jets have turned to former Oklahoma State Cowboy Matt Ammendola to solve their long-running kicking woes.
The New York Jets have added yet another kicker to their roster, announcing the signing of Matt Ammendola going into the weekend. In a corresponding move, the team released veteran leg Sam Ficken.
Ammendola joins the Jets after four seasons at Oklahoma State (2016-19), successfully converting 77 percent of his triple attempts (60-of-78). He led the Big 12 in scoring (139 points) during his sophomore season in 2017. In his final year, he earned at least 10 points in half of his 14 games. The Pennsylvania native departed OSU second in program history in successful field goals since the turn of the century. Ammendola previously spent time in the Carolina organization, signed in March and released in May.
The Jets’ search for a consistent kicker since the departure of Pro Bowler of Jason Myers after the 2018 season continues with this transaction. No matter who suits up for the Jets in their August 14 preseason opener against the New York Giants, he will become the seventh different kicker (including preseason contests) since Myers inked a four-year deal in Seattle. Ammendola is set to compete for the top kicker spot with Chris Naggar, an undrafted rookie out of Southern Methodist.
Ficken was one of the latest names added to that special teams mix, spending parts of each of the last two seasons as the Jets’ primary leg. He got off to a strong start last season, converting each of his first nine three-point attempts over the five games before a groin injury marred the latter parts of his year. Over four other games, Ficken was only 6-of-9 from three and 4-of-6 on extra points. He was released prior to the Jets’ season final in New England but was signed to a reserve/future contract shortly after.
You never forget your first day at a new job…though Zach Wilson reportedly might want to.
The second overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft made his New York Jets training camp debut on Friday afternoon. Observers noted that rust accumulated during a brief contract dispute…one that kept Wilson out of the first two summer sessions…was apparent.
Wilson apparently got off to a hot start. According to Connor Hughes of The Athletic, he found fellow rookie Elijah Moore on his first throw as a contracted member of the Jets, but things went downhill from there. Another toss went “directly” into the arms of safety Marcus Maye (per NorthJersey.com’s Andy Vazquez) and DJ Bien-Aime of the New York Daily News hinted that there could’ve been more.
“Zach Wilson’s first day back he has not been good,” Bien-Aime said. “(Errant) throws, a couple almost interceptions, an (actual) pick. (He’s) been hesitant.”
Wilson was obviously the center of attention after practice, as he was immediately questioned about the effect his brief holdout had on his debut. He arrived in New Jersey on Thursday, taking a red-eye flight from his home state of California. Despite missing the first couple of practices, Wilson isn’t going to use the idea of playing catch-up as an excuse.
“I wouldn’t say I’m behind. It’s just my first live bullets again and it’s just getting back into the mix. I know the plays and I know my assignments, I know what’s going on, and I just got to execute,” Wilson said, per notes from the Jets. “That’s what practice is for. Every day is going to have something frustrating, and that’s why I’m out here. I’m just trying to learn every single day, how I can improve, and just knowing my plays better, and just the different looks our defense is throwing at us. It’s going to be a process.”
Fortunately for Wilson, he said his teammates had his back and that there were no ill feelings toward his temporary absence. This early professional hurdle was new territory for Wilson, who mentioned that he based his life around “(playing) ball just to play ball because I love the game”. That part isn’t changing for the BYU alum anytime soon. Despite the $35 million windfall, Wilson clarified that “the fun part of it isn’t the money, it’s definitely playing football.
“There’s a part of you that just wants to get it done. But you want to get it done the right way,” Wilson said of the negotiations. “It’s a rookie contract that you’re going to have to play with for four years, and so, you’ve got to handle the business side of it to where both sides of the party can agree. So, we just had to make sure we got that done.”
In his own availability, head coach Robert Saleh confirmed that there were no hard feelings between he and Wilson. He gleaned a positive from Wilson’s early struggles, noting that the defense “was moving around really well” on day three of installation. Saleh labeled Maye as “impressive” in the early days of training camp, especially after the franchise-tagged safety missed a majority of spring activities while working through negotiations of his own.
As for Wilson, Saleh said that Friday struggles were understandable, maybe even expected, due to facing a defense running on the momentum of three days of chemistry-building on his first day on the job. Moving forward, Saleh wants to see Wilson “find a way to get better every day”.
“I know sometimes we can get focused on results, but there’s a process and he’s got a tremendous one,” Saleh said in further notes from the team. “(You) can’t control certain things that happen play in and play out, but you can control your process and how you approach things day in and day out. We’re already getting a really good feel just going through the draft process and OTAs. He’s going to have the right process, he’s going to get better.”
Wilson will play in front of his first New York crowd on Saturday, as the weekend session is the Jets’ first training camp practice open to the public since the summer of 2019.
The next generation of New York Jets football can officially begin, as Zach Wilson has reportedly signed his rookie contract.
Gang Green has coughed up the green.
Per Adam Schefter of ESPN, the New York Jets have agreed to terms of a rookie contract with second overall pick Zach Wilson. Schefter’s report reveals that the BYU alum will receive a fully guaranteed four-year deal at $35.1 million, which includes a $22.9 million signing bonus.
Wilson is expected to partake in the Jets’ Friday activities after missing the first two sessions, leaving his primary passing duties to Mike White and James Morgan. His Instagram story hinted that he was still in his home state of California during the holdout, but Schefter said that Wilson arrived in New Jersey today, having taken a red eye flight from Los Angeles.
The holdup in Wilson’s New York arrival was reportedly due to language in his contract, namely in offsets that would soothe New York’s financial blow if he was released prior to the deal’s expiration. Under this deal, Wilson will receive his signing bonus within 15 days, while the Jets get their desired offsets.
With Wilson’s signing, every first-round pick from the 2021 NFL Draft has been signed.
During his absence, Wilson remained a topic of conversation as the Jets convened for camp. While head coach Robert Saleh regularly expressed faith that general manager Joe Douglas would facilitate a deal, he stressed how important the lost training camp reps would be for Wilson.
“It’s more of a concern for the kid. Every rep is important. So my concern is that it’s two days (off) too many already for him,” Saleh said in video from SNY. “This young man’s got a chance to do something special around here that hasn’t been done in a while and every rep matters for him.”
Davis considered “walking away” from football, but the New York Jets’ call has afforded him a chance to reclaim the narrative on his career.
No matter their genre, fictional characters have embarked on new quests by hiring an expert in the field in question to complete their goals. Peter LaFleur brought in dodgeball legend Patches O’Houlihan to save Average Joe’s Gym. Norman Dale enlisted the services of former Hickory Husker Wilbur “Shooter” Flatch to help capture Indiana high school basketball glory.
In the real world, linebacker Jarrad Davis is in a similar position as he arrives in Florham Park for his first New York Jets training camp. Entering his fifth season out of Florida, Davis is a noted practitioner of 4-3 defense, which is set to make its return to New York under new head coach Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich.
The 4-3 has played host to Davis’ finest gridiron hours: his work under Geoff Collins and Randy Shannon’s system at the University of Florida made him a first-round pick of Detroit Lions (21st overall) in 2017. He was a strong fit for a similar system overseen by Teryl Austin, earning all-rookie team honors.
Davis returned to the 4-3 on Wednesday when he partook in the opening camp practice on One Jets Drive. He offered a positive review of what Saleh and Ulbrich had to offer in his first post-practice comments.
“The defense is so layered. On the front end, we have to cause havoc, stress quarterbacks out, get them off the spot,” the new front seven member said of the defense, per video from the Jets. “Linebackers, we need to help protect the middle of the field. We got to make sure our reads are sharp, our keys are where they need to be, eyes are where they need to be on our keys. We just got to make sure that we’re doing everything that we can do to take care of our jobs.”
“This defense, as with almost any other defense in the league, it’s about all 11 doing their job. If there’s somebody out of position, then it’s going to make somebody in the backend look bad, someone who may have done everything perfectly, because the timing isn’t there. It’s all about everybody just doing their job, just simply put.”
Though Austin was dismissed through the controversial firing of head coach Jim Caldwell, Davis enjoyed a productive sophomore season under Paul Pasqualoni (100 tackles, 10 for a loss, 6 sacks), even earning on-field playcalling duties. But Davis, like many, fell victim to the Matt Patricia cesspool in the Motor City. Injuries ate away at his 2019 season and he spent most of last season in a rotational role, playing a career-low 330 snaps over 14 games. Detroit declined to pick up his fifth-year option as they went back to the drawing board.
Faced with an uncertain football future, Davis entered a period of “soul searching”. What made his Detroit demotion so painful, he said, was the fact that he was “making the game everything”.
“I was making myself the game. And when I was doing that, it just, it just didn’t feel right,” he said. “This is such a competitive sport at this level. You have to put your everything, you have to put your all into it. But there has to be balance. I had a personal life but it wasn’t as important, I didn’t really care. If my personal life got in the way of football, it couldn’t exist. Living like that, I burnt myself out.”
As a result, Davis admitted that he seriously contemplated “walking away” from football. Instead, he began a new offseason endeavor.
“Living like that, I would burn myself out,” Davis said of his relative all-or-nothing approach. “I had to go do some things to take care of myself personally, mentally, and emotionally and get back right.”
To that end, Davis met with a Super Bowl champion: Denver-based sports psychologist Dr. Rick Perea, Ph.D.
Davis previously worked with Dr. Perea during the 2017 draft process. This time around, the linebacker learned how to “revalue” things moving forward.
“Football was top of the top (of my values), nothing could knock it down. Nothing could knock down the foundation that football was standing on,” David recalled. “But we personally just cleared it. We just took it off the radar, like took it off my list. It’s just something I do now. It’s not who I am anymore.”
Don’t let the wording fool you: Davis believes that his revaluing process will make him a better player on the field. For example, a mistake that would haunt him for the rest of practice is forgotten by the next down.
“If I mess up in practice, I mess up in practice. I can bounce back from that and come back and make a better play the next play now,” he said. “Before, I messed up, now I think about that all practice. I can’t even focus on anything else. I can’t even see the fullback taking me to the gap I need to go to anymore because I’m thinking about this play that happened 20 minutes ago.”
The Jets’ call meant more for Davis under a new focus. New York inked him to a one-year deal worth $5.5 million in March, reuniting him with fellow former Gator Marcus Maye. The safety was chosen 18 picks after Davis in the 2017 draft, just three months after they capped off their Gainesville careers with a 30-3 over Iowa in the Outback Bowl.
An opportunity to return to a familiar scheme drew Davis to the metropolitan area.
“To get that phone call early in free agency from the Jets, it was a blessing to know that I had such an opportunity as this to come in and really get back to work,” Davis said. “I’m coming back to the scheme, the familiarity. We did stuff similar to this in college and being able to play fast and just be myself out there just excited me.”
Davis is one of many athletes who have shared their struggles with mental health in recent times. His discourse coincided with decorated American gymnast Simone Biles’ highly publicized withdrawal from several events at the 2020 Olympics Games in Tokyo due to such concerns.
Though Davis admitted he was not up to speed to comment on Biles’ situation, he hopes that his own situation will remove stigmas and inspire his teammates to ask for help if they need it.
“Why do we have to think getting help and not being okay, and saying that you’re not okay is a cool thing to do before you can actually say it?” Davis rhetorically asked. “If you’re not okay, you’re not okay, and it’s okay to ask for help. I guess it’s a very simple question, but it’s a powerful one.”
“People do need to understand that. When we do, we’ll be able to build and grow in life.”
Head coach Robert Saleh announced on Wednesday that the New York Jets will be without two key defenders come opening day in Carolina.
New York Jets head coach Robert Saleh broke some tough news as training camp practices commenced on Wednesday.
By a “conservative” estimate, safety Ashtyn Davis won’t come off the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list until the Jets’ home opener in Week 2 against New England. Saleh likewise predicted that Vinny Curry would also miss the Jets’ kickoff weekend showdown with the Carolina Panthers in Charlotte on September 12.
According to Saleh, Davis’ problem is the same foot injury that kept him out of the final four games of last season. Davis, a third-round pick out of Cal-Berkeley in last year’s virtual draft, is expected to take on a larger role in the strong safety spot. Veteran newcomer Lamarcus Joyner will likely take on an expanded role, backed by fellow acquisition Sharrod Neasman and former XFL representative Elijah Campbell.
As for Curry, formerly of the Philadelphia Eagles, Saleh mentioned that an offseason procedure “is going to hold him up”. The Super Bowl champion spent parts of last season on injured reserve with a hamstring issue that cost him four games.
Saleh’s injury updates weren’t fully dire. The head coach mentioned that both Quinnen Williams and Kyle Phillips are anticipated to be ready for the Jets’ visit to Green Bay during the second week of the preseason. New York will partake in joint practice sessions with the Packers before an exhibition battle on August 21.
The head coach went into a little more detail on Williams, whose return is one of the most anticipated of the season after his breakthrough sophomore season. Williams has been sidelined with a foot injury suffered while working out at the team’s training facility over the spring. Saleh said that the third pick of the 2019 draft hasn’t partaken in team activities yet for precautionary reasons, per notes provided by the Jets.
“(We’re taking a) slower approach in terms of making sure that this doesn’t happen to the other foot and all that stuff,” Saleh said. “I’m still not concerned at all about Quinnen, he does look good out there. He started running, he’s in good shape. He’s going through all of it, he’s been here. We’re confident when he hits the field, he’ll hit the ground running.”
Asked if Williams would be ready for Week 1 in Carolina, Saleh merely replied “I don’t want to jinx it”.
As Moonrise Kingdom,Meatballs, and the never-ending Friday the 13th franchise taught us…what’s summer camp without a little chaos?
The New York Jets’ proceedings, which began Tuesday morning on One Jets Drive contain an aura of slight spookiness. Touted franchise quarterback/savior Zach Wilson has yet to report to the team, the only player on the Jets’ roster who has yet to arrive in Florham Park. Wilson, the second overall pick of last spring’s NFL Draft, is one of two first-round picks that have yet to sign with the team that drafted him, joining fellow thrower Trey Lance in San Francisco. The BYU alum’s Instagram story hinted that he is still in his home state of California as the Jets’ first camp practice looms on Wednesday.
Per ESPN’s Rich Cimini, contract offsets appear to be the point of contention between Wilson and Gang Green. Offsets offer a team relative insurance if they cut a high-profile draft pick prior to the end of his original four-year deal. A similar discussion temporarily delayed the start of the Sam Darnold era, as the previous franchise quarterback missed New York’s first three practices before inking his deal.
Head coach Robert Saleh doesn’t seem too concerned about the Wilson situation. Per notes from the Jets, he referred to the Wilson contract talks purely as “business” and that the quarterback is “intelligent” enough to make up for any lost time.
“(General manager Joe Douglas) has a great handle on everything and when it gets done, it gets done,” Saleh said. “He’s got a tremendous drive so when he does get here, I know somehow someway he’ll make up for it.”
The Wilson situation, however, does give the Jets an opportunity to reflect on a rare offseason failure: with Wilson stationed on the other side of the country, the fact that the Jets’ other two rostered quarterbacks (James Morgan and Mike White) have zero NFL regular season passes between them looms larger than ever.
Saleh has never been one to panic over the backup quarterback controversy and continued to keep his cool on Tuesday. He even hinted that quarterbacks coach Rob Calabrese, who broke Boomer Esiason’s passing records at East Islip High School on Long Island, has a “live arm” and could be called upon in practice in lieu of a veteran backup.
“I do believe that (Morgan and White) got better as camp went on, the two backups, and so we’ll see where they’re at come tomorrow and today for that matter, and we’ll progress through and make a decision as we see fit,” Saleh said when asked if the Jets would seek veteran help. “I got a lot of faith in Joe. So, we’ll see what happens here in the next couple of hours.”
The release of the former can help the Jets right one of the few wrongs they’ve endured this offseason.
Saleh has made it clear throughout the offseason that he’s not going to add a veteran quarterback for the sake of adding one, reasoning that teaching the Jets’ new offensive to an experienced newcomer would be no different from counseling a rookie (which makes their passing on former San Francisco understudy Nick Mullens all the more puzzling).
But the ongoing Wilson situation shows just how fragile the Jets’ current setup at quarterback is. They’re currently trapped with a questionable fourth-round pick and a 2018 day three pick that has been on and off the New York practice squad. Bortles can help a developing team like the Jets in several ways.
Even taking away the relatively cliched idea of a mentorship role…one that he briefly filled for Jared Goff with the LA Rams…Bortles can prove beneficial to New York’s future. Though it’s safe to say that Bortles hasn’t lived up to his third overall pick billing with Jacksonville (the first quarterback chosen in the 2014 proceedings), the 29-year-old has been serviceable enough to build a lengthy NFL career. Since 2014, Bortles has thrown 103 touchdown passes, one of 24 NFL passers to do so in that span despite minimal playing time over the last two seasons. In comparison, the Jets as a team have thrown only 137 in the last seven seasons, dead last in the league. If Wilson is befallen by an emergency…contract, injury, or otherwise…there are far worse options to install.
When Bortles’ five-year term in Jacksonville ended, then-head coach Doug Marrone didn’t buy into the idea that the Central Florida alum was a bust, despite the divorce. Instead, Marrone saw a leader who defined toughness in more ways than one.
“We as coaches always use that term and people think it’s physicality of how you play the game,” Marrone said in a Bortles retrospective penned by Gene Frenette of Jacksonville.com. “Everyone can see the physical toughness, the shots he’s taken, really putting himself out there. We see and appreciate that.”
“The stuff you can’t see is the mental toughness,” Marrone continued. “What I remember from Blake is how he handled himself, standing up there and answering all the questions. Quarterbacks can deflect a lot of issues that occur on the field. Blake didn’t do that. He took a tremendous amount of accountability, maybe more than should have been on his plate.”
Bortles’ one shining moment at the NFL level stands to be his 2017 campaign, when he helped guide the Jaguars to an improbable conference title game appearance (and, arguably, a stolen Super Bowl showing). Signing him would keep up with the theme of big game experience the Jets have created this offseason.
Two-time Super Bowl participant Tevin Coleman is slated to be their top rusher. Another ring bearer, former Philadelphia Eagles Vinny Curry, should help mentor a young front seven. The team already added one of Bortles’ 2017 teammates, receiver Keelan Cole. Fellow newcomers Corey Davis, Sheldon Rankins, and Tyler Kroft have all likewise competed in a conference title game over the last three seasons. That experience can help a team desperate for any sense of direction or positive reinforcement move forward in their quest to a postseason drought that has reached double digits.
The Jets are coming toward the end of an intriguing offseason that can be remarkably classified as macabre yet hopeful: the 2020 season was garish that almost any adjustment would’ve qualified as an improvement. Yet, there are legitimate upgrades on this roster that will help them in both immediately and in the future. Failing to add a backup quarterback was a rare shortcoming that could’ve been avoided.
Rodgers’ return sent ripples throughout the football world and offered the Jets a rare gift. They must do their best to take advantage.
How important is it for the Jets to add a veteran QB like Bortles to the fold? Follow @GeoffJMags on Twitter and keep the conversation going.
Valoaga, who entered the league as an undrafted free agent out of UNLV in 2017, spent the last two seasons with the Raiders franchise in both their Oakland and Las Vegas incarnations, though he did not play last season after opting out in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. He previously worked with Jets head coach and former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh during a shared season (2019) in the Bay Area and enjoyed a lucrative preseason, leading the team in sacks during the summer exhibition quartet (4.5).
The Oxnard, CA native has become an NFL veteran despite some struggles with academics in college, but he recovered and eventually earned a rookie contract from the Detroit Lions. He also spent most of the 2018 season on the Miami Dolphins’ practice squad. Over 13 regular season games with Detroit and San Francisco, Valoaga has earned seven tackles, including one sack.
Valoaga was one of several roster moves the Jets made as they descended upon One Jets Drive for training camp on Tuesday. He takes over a roster spot from blocker George Fant, who was placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. His arrival should help the Jets bide time on the defensive line until Quinnen Williams, Kyle Phillips, and Vinny Curry are activated. Williams and Phillips landed on the Active/Physically Unable to Perform list over the weekend, while Curry is in the Active/Non-Football Injury group.
Elsewhere, the Jets got three of their defenders back. Safety Marcus Maye and Valoaga’s new fellow lineman Foley Fatukasi were activated from the NFI list while another front seven attendee, final draft pick Jonathan Marshall, came off the PUP group.
If EA Sports’ virtual affairs are anything to go by, the New York Jets are getting an upgrade at quarterback.
Zach Wilson was one of the big winners of the Madden NFL 22‘s original rating reveals, as his debut rating of 75 ranks second amongst incoming professional quarterbacks.
The second overall pick of the 2021 draft sits only behind top choice Trevor Lawrence of the Jacksonville Jaguars and is tied for the fourth-highest rookie overall with receivers Ja’Marr Chase and DeVonta Smith. Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts tops the list at 81.
Initial player ratings for the 35th edition of EA Sports’ long-running football simulator named after Hall of Fame head coach/commentator John Madden are slowly trickling in as NFL teams open their training camps. The reveals are coming through ESPN programming such as SportsCenter,Get Up!, First Take, and NFL Live, as well as EA’s official accounts. ESPN has dubbed the event Madden Ratings Week and a full schedule of unveilings can be found here.
Members of the “99 Club”, those who attain the highest possible rating in a Madden game, will also be unveiled throughout the week. Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams is the first such honoree.
Wilson’s reveal came on Sunday during the Kickoff Special hosted by Laura Rutledge and Mina Kimes on Sunday afternoon, which unveiled the rankings for top rookies, as well as veterans in transition. In addition to his overall number of 75, Wilson gains ratings of 94 in throw power (nine points ahead of his New England counterpart Mac Jones), 83 in speed, 79 in passing under pressure, and 70 in awareness.
Of note, Wilson ranks ahead of newly minted Carolina Panthers quarterback Sam Darnold, his predecessor in the Jets’ franchise quarterback role.
Elijah Moore’s partial reaction to his original Madden rating was shared on the franchise’s official Twitter account. Though Moore’s overall rating of 73 was not revealed in the video, in which he co-stars with several of his fellow freshmen, it did catch his reaction to the change of direction subsection. Moore gets a little ahead of himself…he believes he should he receive a 100…but he still earns a respectable 93. Moore, however, isn’t pleased with his grade.
“Who is above me?” Moore asks. “Because 93 is kind of low. I really don’t know anything I can do.”
Madden NFL 22 will feature two athletes on its cover (Tom Brady and Patrick Mahomes) for the first time since the edition that was released for the 2009-10 season (Larry Fitzgerald and Troy Polamalu). It will be released on August 20 and is available for pre-order on EA’s official site.
Will you be leading Wilson and the Jets to Super Bowl glory in Madden NFL 22’s franchise mode? Follow @GeoffJMags and continue the conversation.
The New York Jets defense has received a fair amount of notice this offseason. With the addition of Carl Lawson, the return of CJ Mosley and the continuing emergence of Quinnen Williams, there’s a lot to be excited about. However, one hasn’t received nearly as much praise, to say the least.
That would be the cornerbacks.
Sure, it’s easy to understand why that is: they’re young, unproven and lack “big names.” Nevertheless, this group is due for a much-improved season.
Now, let’s see why they are, highlighted by three key players:
Let me preface this by saying that I have very high hopes for Bryce Hall. And why wouldn’t I? The former Virginia corner was one of the best pass-defenders in college…when he wasn’t injured.
In 2018, when he played all 13 games, he led the nation with 22 pass breakups and was tied for first in the nation with 24 passes defended. Those are two of the key stats for cornerbacks and based on what he did compared to everyone else, you can’t get any better than that.
His first season in the NFL was a different story. Along with only playing in eight games, he allowed 37 catches on 52 targets. In case it needs to be said, that isn’t great.
He did show some on-field potential, though, especially for a young player with injury concerns. In those eight games, he had 36 tackles and an interception. Now, in case this needs to be said, or shown, his first interception was a beauty.
Hall will be one of the top-two corners for the Jets this season, and he should be ready for it. At 6-foot-1, 202 pounds, he has the size, and the speed, to trace top receivers. He also has a knack for finding the ball and stopping it from finding receivers’ hands.
Now, he has to put it all together on the field consistently. In year two, he’ll be ready for the challenge and the fifth-round pick with first-round talent will help this secondary leap forward.
Along with having a great name, Bless Austin will most likely be alongside Bryce Hall as the top-two corners. His case is an interesting one, though, as it feels like his numbers should be better than they are.
Across his first two seasons, he has played in just 18 games, starting 16. He has eight passes defended in those games and has allowed 71 catches on 110 targets (64.5%). He’s a good tackler with great movement and speed, so it’s odd that his numbers aren’t better.
Numbers don’t always tell the whole story, though.
Analysts and fans tend to focus solely on stats and not enough on players’ non-stat impacts. Bless Austin is a guy who can make plays that don’t necessarily show on the stat sheet but drastically impact the outcome of a game.
Austin is due for a breakout third season and has all of the tools to have one. His passion and grit show on the field, whether his stats reflect it or not. It’s about time his stats do reflect his play, though, as something tells me this will be the year.
With no career interceptions, but impressive ball skills, this is the year that Bless Austin should make a name for himself.
Jason Pinnock is a real x-factor this season. The fifth-round pick from Pittsburgh had six collegiate interceptions, along with 25 pass breakups. That’s all good, but here is where it gets really exciting.
All cornerbacks “know” how receivers move, but Pinnock really knows (notice how there are no quotations). This is because he was a receiver in high school, and he was a pretty damn good one. As a senior, he had 59 catches for 1,172 yards and 15 touchdowns. So, one might say he knows how to track the ball in the air pretty well.
You can see these skills clearly if watch him play, even for a short time.
Having experience playing receiver isn’t enough to be a successful corner, and he knows that. To complement his talent, skill and experience, he studied.
In a March interview with TheSpun.com‘s Chris Rosvoglou, Pinnock explained how he admired, and studied, two legendary cornerbacks.
“During my childhood, I’d say it was Darrelle Revis. I was a fanatic of his for years… I had the opportunity a few times to talk to him,” Pinnock said. “He helped my game out a lot just through a few conversations. As far as being in college and high school and getting to that level, I watched Richard Sherman. I’ve been breaking him down play-by-play since 2017.”
If Pinnock can replicate any of Revis and Sherman as a rookie it’d be really promising. His expectations may not be all too high being that he’s a fifth-round pick, but Jason Pinnock should be a major part of the exciting, young secondary this season.
Oh, and it helps that the Jets have an improved pass rush this season as well.