Following Sunday’s victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, Jets fans were gushing over the breakout performance of FS Jaiquawn Jarrett who turned in what was arguably the best effort of any Jets defender this season. Against Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers, Jarrett had 10 tackles, 2 interceptions, a sack, and a fumble recovery. His total impact plays on the day were more than first round pick Calvin Pryor has produced as the starter through the season’s first nine games, and Head Coach Rex Ryan has openly acknowledged that Pryor’s production has not lived up to expectations. Pryor was supposed to be a hard hitter who was going to help produce turnovers and provide an intimidating presence in the secondary. Clearly, that has not been the case up to this point.
In addition to Ryan’s recent criticism of the first round pick, he told reporters during his post-game press conference that players had to be more responsible and show up to meetings on time. Not long after, we learned that Pryor was the likely target of those comments, having been late for several defensive meetings this season. It’s not a good sign for any team when a struggling first round pick who is expected to be a big part of the future is displaying questionable commitment. More than his lack of production, it would appear that Pryor’s failures off the field played a bigger role in Ryan’s decision to go with Jarrett against the Steelers.
Coming out of college, Jarrett was no slouch himself, but he wasn’t a John Idzik pick or signing. After playing four seasons at Temple university, Jarrett was drafted in the second round by Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles. Things didn’t work out for Jarrett in Philly, he was released early on in his second season. During his short time in the city of brotherly love, Jarrett amassed only fifteen tackles as a rookie before playing a single game in year two when Reid decided to cut ties. Following the release, Reid told the press that he was wrong to take Jarrett with such a high pick and the Eagles were going to move on. Now in his second season with the Jets, the Brooklyn product has put himself in the spotlight having earned AFC defensive player of the week honors, and the Jets in a tough spot. His highlight reel performance will have the team trying to decide between admitting they may have been wrong to draft Pryor if Jarrett is the better player, or going with their highly touted “home grown” product out of Louisville.
One week wonder or not, Jarrett should absolutely be given the start (or at least the majority of the reps) when the Jets return from their bye week to take on the Buffalo Bills. However, all too often draft status trumps performance in the NFL, especially for a team with no playoff aspirations. Despite that, there is also the thought that the Jets sitting in last place may not mean increased time for the back-ups. Ryan isn’t auditioning anyone for the future as he’s unlikely to be around barring a lengthy, miracle second half winning streak, so will the first rounder continue to sit while the Jets try to win games, or will Rex go with the four year veteran and undoubtedly lead to more scrutiny of his boss, General Manger John Idzik and his questionable draft record?