Brandon Meriweather v Brodney Pool
Meriweather has moved from the strong safety position to free safety in order to allow Pat Chung to come into the lineup. Meriweather is better suited to the free safety spot as he can take advantage of his speed to play the ball or deliver a big hit. He is the old head of a young secondary(on a young defense) and his experience is crucial in directing the trio of young starters around him(Chung, Arrington and McCourty). Meriweather will spend most of his time as the last line of the defense and is a reliable tackle should he need to take down a breakaway running back or receiver.
Brodney Pool always stood out in Cleveland as he played on a struggling team. He has not stood as much with the Jets but is a solid performer. He lacks true speed but is not so slow that he struggles in coverage. Pool is a good tackler and reacts well to the ball when it is in the air. He drops back into coverage more often than not but has also managed a sack on the season. He is the one Jets defender that plays more zone coverage than man which he is better suited to.
Pat Chung v Eric Smith
Pat Chung has developed as the season moved along into a playmaking presence on the Patriots defense. Chung is a physical freak that can match up to Tight ends expertly as well as cover the slot corners. He is a heavy hitter that sometimes doesn't wrap up tacklers like he should but brings a range and game changing threat to the team both on defense and on special teams. Chung is developing in his role still but his physical talent and measurables allow him to overcome his lack of experience.
Eric came into the season starting but was benched after the third game and did not finish the season as the starter. He started the last game in the playoffs after safety Jim Leonhard was placed on IR towards the end of the season. Smith is not good enough to start full time in the NFL but has been an average performer in relief in the past. He is a reliable tackler and thrives against the run but lethargic in pass coverage. He had only 4 pass deflections(2 in the playoffs) this past season without an interception. He is an energetic player that gets around the field that has resulted in 54 tackles and a sack in limited time this year.
Kyle Arrington v Antonio Cromartie
Kyle Arrington came into this season as a virtual unknown quantity. He is a short cornerback standing at 5'10 with fantastic speed. Arrington came into the season hoping to play some time in the slot but Leigh Bodden's season ending injury before the season made him the full time starter. Arrington is definitely more suited to playing the slot as he is very agile and fast but also very small. Tall receivers can take advantage of his lack of size. While competing for the high ball is not his forte he is an outstanding tackler for a constantly undermatched player. Arrington is not going to knock anyone out but won't be run over either.
Antonio Cromartie arrived in New York to make the best cornerback tandem in the league. Cromartie is not a shut down corner like his teammate Revis but has a huge wing span and great speed. He can match up to most receivers in the league with his range and ability to locate the ball. After the interception Cromartie can be a very dangerous return man. He has a tendency to try to pick the ball off instead of making sure the receiver does not catch the ball but gets away with this as he does not often give up big plays. Cromartie's biggest weakness is his lack of agility and can be exposed by shorter shifty receivers.
Devin McCourty v Darelle Revis
McCourty turned out to be a great pick for the Patriots this season late in round 1 to the extent that he is a nominee for rookie of the year. McCourty has good range and speed while excelling in press coverage. He has great ball location against the oppositions number one receiver that resulted in 7 interceptions during the regular season. McCourty is one of the biggest playmaking defensive backs in the league as he resembles Charles Woodson's ability to jar the ball lose from the opposition.
There is not much to say about Jets' cornerback Darelle Revis. Revis can do it all and does not feature much in games as defenses work away from him. His technique is absolute unbelievable and his physical tools are immense. He can tackle emphatically in support of the run defense and is comfortable in any type of coverage. Revis is the ultimate corner but if you were to be pedantic, he does not have elite line pace.
Safety and Cornerbacks: