Jets employ curious strategy: Are two safeties really better than one?
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    Jets employ curious strategy: Are two safeties really better than one?

    by UplandRam » Sat Apr 29, 2017 11:48 pm

    FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- One day after picking Jamal Adams, regarded in scouting circles as a transformative safety, the New York Jets evidently felt their secondary needed a little more transforming.

    Oops, they did it again, taking Florida safety Marcus Maye in Friday night's second round -- the first time in Jets history that two defensive backs were chosen in the first two rounds of the same draft.

    Talk about doubling down.

    Talk about a weird draft.

    The safety position was a glaring weakness last season and, yes, they went into the draft with only one healthy, starting-caliber safety on the roster -- Calvin Pryor. The other starter, Marcus Gilchrist, is recovering from major knee surgery and will begin training camp on the PUP list.

    No doubt, it was a need, but this was a case of overkill. With so many other deficiencies, the Jets could've gone in a few different directions with their second-round pick (39th overall).

    General manager Mike Maccagnan, explaining the unconventional strategy, chalked it up to his best-player-available credo, saying Maye was too good to pass up. He added, "We're going to try to make every position as competitive as possible."

    Taking the glass-half-full view, the Jets turned a weakness into a potential strength. The safety position has grown in importance in the NFL, and we've seen in recent years how a dominant safety tandem can galvanize a defense. The Seattle Seahawks, with Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor, come to mind. You need good safeties to handle the New England Patriots and their band of tight ends, led by Rob Gronkowski. On Friday, Adams said one of the first thoughts that came to his mind after getting drafted was that he'd have to face Gronk.

    The Jets have a plan, according to coach Todd Bowles. He said he'd like to use more three-safety packages than a year ago, perhaps dusting off a scheme he used in his days as the Arizona Cardinals' defensive coordinator. He used Deone Bucannon in a hybrid safety/linebacker role, something he will consider this coming season. He said he's not sure which one -- Pryor, Adams or Maye -- would be the new version of Bucannon.

    "We have a bunch of packages where we play three safeties at one time," Bowles said. "It's something we'd like to do, but we didn't have that luxury last year."

    Bowles said Adams and Maye "complement each other well." In college, Maye played the post more than Adams, who was used closer to the line of scrimmage and sometimes in man-to-man coverage out of the slot.

    "They'll play off each other well," Bowles said.

    As for Pryor, his future appears up in the air. Maccagnan didn't deny reports that he's shopping the former first-round pick, saying "a lot of things come up in conversations." But he also sounded like he's willing to keep Pryor.

    "I don't think there's any reason why we can't keep Calvin on this team in terms of the salary cap," he said.

    He's right. Pryor, entering the final year of his rookie contract, is counting only $2.7 million on the cap, so it's not like he's a financial drain. There's no sense of urgency to ship him out. Gilchrist? They can't count on him because he's only four months removed from major knee surgery.

    "We added two good players," Bowles said of Adams and Maye. "We were disappointed in our secondary last season. Hopefully, these two guys will make us better going forward." ... r-than-one

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