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While some are obsessed with one position
. . . the Jets have a ton of needs aside from QB, and a big one is at linebacker, especially considering the type of linebackers Robert Saleh will be looking for.
Saleh likes run-and-hit linebackers who can cover a lot of ground.
And “cover” is the operative word.
The Jets need to upgrade the pass coverage at linebacker in a major way.
That is why Tennessee Titan free agent linebacker Jayon Brown will likely be on the Jets’ radar when free agency starts, if his elbow is okay; he had surgery late last season, after suffering a dislocated and fractured elbow.
Just to give you an idea of how the Titans view him, here is what they wrote on their website about the UCLA-graduate, “He possesses tremendous speed for the position and excels at covering tight ends and running backs.”
How badly do the Jets need a guy like that?
The Jets tight end and running back coverage was very poor this last season. With the Super Bowl on the horizon with Kansas City representing the AFC, this reminds us the Jets they flat-out could not cover KC tight end Travis Kelce in their loss to the Chiefs. He got open at will. I know he’s a great player, but they way he dominated the Jets is illustrative of how they need to improve their linebacker coverage.
Brown is an unrestricted free agent and the Jets desperately need a player like this. In a pass-happy league, they need much better coverage from the linebacker position then they have received recently.
This is such a huge need for the Jets, that if they don’t land a top-shelf coverage linebacker like Brown in free agency, they might need to consider Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton with the 23rd pick, one of the first-round picks they got from the Seattle Seahawks in the Jamal Adams’ trade.
If you want a picture postcard of the kind of guy(s) the Jets need a linebacker, when watching the Super Bowl on Sunday, checkout Tampa Bay linebackers Lavonte David and Devin White, two exceptional coverage linebackers, who both run around 4.5. People talk so much about Tampa Bay’s great defensive line featuring players like Jason Pierre-Paul, Shaq Barrett and Ndamukong Suh, and rightfully so, but those two linebackers are just as important, because their coverage skills against tight ends and running backs help give those pass rusher up front an extra second to get to the QB.
Too often last season, opposing quarterbacks made it look like a seven-on-seven practice drill when throwing against the Jets, and a big reason for that, aside from issues at cornerback, was the linebackers too often were a tick late getting over in coverage.
So upgrading the speed and coverage of their linebackers this off-season is of the utmost importance.
And a player like Brown, or Buffalo’s Matt Milano, will get the Jets’ attention.
Along with a player in the draft.
There is a must.
February 3, 2021
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