As great as the internet can be for much of the time (especially if you avoid politics), it can be equally hilarious, and not in a good way, when mob mentality creeps up on you.
In sports, we see it all the time. An opinion on a team or player is repeated so many times, that the opinion morphs in to a widely accepted fact about said team or player, and the New York Jets are no different. In taking a look around the Jets twitter universe and the best Jets fan forum on the web here at JetNation.com, a few myths seem to get regurgitated over the course of the season, and sometimes for several years.
Luckily, we’re here to do our own little bit of myth busting.
Myth #1: Mike Maccagnan is obsessed with safeties
When the Jets used their first and second round draft picks on safeties Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye last year, it appears some Jets fans were under the impression that there would be no need to ever add another safety to the roster. With that being the case, we see no shortage of “Maccagnan is obsessed with safeties” reactions when one is added, as was the case yesterday when news got out that the Jets would reportedly be signing undrafted free agent safety Brandon Bryant.
Mike Maccagnan works hand in hand with Todd Bowles, a former safety who relies heavily on defensive sets that deploy three safeties simultaneously. This means it’s likely that Maccagnan will look to carry four or five safeties when the season starts. In addition, at this point in the season, rosters aren’t limited to 53 as they are during the regular season, but instead at 90 players. With that being the case, it makes sense for the Jets to add a few “camp bodies” at the position as the team will look to rest starters and audition back-ups when pre-season games start. Currently, the Jets have seven on board, the same exact number as the New England Patriots, whose head coach/GM knows a thing or two about assembling a roster. Also within their own division, the Buffalo Bills are carrying just one fewer safety with six, and the Dolphins have five listed on their roster. The Maccagnan “obsession” with safeties is a perfect example of repeating a lie so many times that it becomes “true”.
Myth #2: Buster Skrine is much better off in the slot than on the boundary
For much of his time with the Jets, cornerback Buster Skrine has spent far more time playing on the outside than anticipated when he was signed to play the slot three seasons ago. Many envision Skrine as a slot corner who has been miscast on the outside.
Reality: Skrine hasn’t played much better in one spot than the other. It shows up regularly on film, and is confirmed by the folks at Pro Football Focus, who say that when targeted on the outside, Skrine allowed opposing QB’s to complete 61% of their passes. In the slot, the number jumps to 65%. In terms of snaps per reception, the numbers are nearly identical. Skrine allows a reception every 9.2 coverage snaps from the slot, and every 9.4 snaps on the boundary.
Side Note: We rarely see players show significant improvement this late in their career, but last season, under new defensive backs coach Dennard Wilson, Skrine struggled with consistency, but his better games were some of his best as a pro. That earned him a career-best grade from PFF at -0.2, a grade that falls in to their “average” range of -1.0 to 1.0. It was the first time in his career that Skrine didn’t finish the season with a below average grade, so hopefully better things to come after another season of working with Wilson.
Myth #3: The Offensive Line is a disaster
Because the Jets offensive line was so bad last season, there are a good number of fans who expect the same thing this year as there was little turnover for the group. Starters Kelvin Beachum, James Carpenter, Brian Winters and Brandon Shell are all returning. Spencer Long is the lone newcomer to the group.
Reality: There are definitely some questions surrounding this offensive line, but the situation isn’t as dire as some presume. As the old saying goes, “you’re only as strong as your weakest link”, and the weakest link on the Jets’ 2017 offensive line was center Wesley Johnson, who has moved on to Detroit. His replacement, Spencer Long, is one of the better pass blocking centers in the league and is better suited for a zone scheme than Johnson was. A huge upgrade at center and a (presumably) healthy Brian Winters won’t give the Jets a dominant group, but they should be far better many fans fear.
So just a few facts to dispel some myths, Jets fans. And remember, when you hear something repeated time and again, take a second to check the facts before joining the herd.