If you had asked this question a year ago when Darrelle Revis was still on the Jets roster I’m sure your friends mocked your football intelligence. However, now that Revis is gone many Giants fans contend that Corey Webster is still a high-quality corner. In this edition of Jets vs. Giants position comparisons, we can analyze the current state of the Jets’ corners and see if the Big Blue fans actually have a point in their praise of Corey Webster.
Category 1: Shutdown Coverage
Obviously, the most important task for a cornerback in the NFL is to defend the pass against the wide receiver that they are responsible for covering. The Jets’ corners, which include Antonio Cromartie, Dee Milliner, and Kyle Wilson, are relatively good at shutting down the opposing receivers. Last year, Cromartie showed that he could fill in Revis’ shoes, shutting down some of the top receivers. Playing against exceptional receivers, including Wes Welker, Michael Crabtree, Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald, and Stevie Johnson, Cromartie on average gave up 4.5 catches, 62 yards, and less than 0.2 touchdowns a game. In college, Dee Milliner was known notoriously by opposing quarterbacks as a shut down corner, and he performed like one too. As for Kyle Wilson, he has no doubt struggled in his short NFL career. The Piscataway native has played sub-par (if that) in nickel packages, but when asked to be an every-down corner last year we saw him struggle.
As for the Giants, Corey Webster has recently struggled. Against big name receivers including Vincent Jackson, Steve Smith, Mike Wallace, A.J. Green, and Roddy White, Webster put up performances that would embarrass his mother. On average, he gave up 4.2 catches, 76.2 yards, and 0.6 touchdowns a game. These are not the numbers you would expect from a team’s number one corner, although he has proven his capability in the past. Hopefully for the Giants, last year was an off year but we’ll have to wait and see. However, the young Prince Amukamara has displayed extreme potential at the cornerback position. Against quality second string receivers such as Antonio Brown, Miles Austin, and Randy Moss, Amukamara gave up over 75 yards a game, although the majority of these was in an abysmal performance against Miles Austin. However, Amukamara has shown shutdown potential in his early career.
Better Shutdown Corners: Jets
Category 2: Turnovers Another important game-changing characteristic a defensive back can have is to be able to intercept the ball and cause turnovers. On the Jets, this is a stat that without Revis they are not the best at. Last year, Cromartie racked in three interceptions on the year, and returned one for a touchdown in a week 1 blowout against the Bills. Cromartie also picked off Matt Schaub and Andre Luck in back to back weeks, although that was it for turnovers for him. Kyle Wilson didn’t do much better intercepting just one pass all year in the same victory vs. Buffalo. Also, first round draft pick Dee Milliner is spectacular in coverage, although he isn’t quite the interception machine either. Last year, he intercepted just two passes, one off Denard Robinson in week 1 and another against Ole Miss. Hopefully for the Jets he can bring a wave of interceptions to replace Revis, although it is not quite what to expect from him.
The Giants, on the other hand, have a plethora of corners that can get the ball back for their offense. Even in a pitiful season like the one Corey Webster had last year, he still tallied four interceptions on the year, picking off some potential future Hall of Famers such as Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger. If Terrell Thomas returns to corner this year, they will have another interception machine playing the nickel back position. In his last two seasons starting for the Giants, he had 5 interceptions each year, including running one back for a touchdown in ’09. If Prince Amukamara can get his juices going this year (he had 1 INT last year off Alex Smith) the Giants should have quite a stout secondary when it comes to interceptions.
Team Better at Causing Turnovers: Giants
Category 3: Pass Breakups
The very least a corner can do, if getting an interception is not feasible, is to break up the pass and make sure the receiver is unable to catch it. And the Jets corners seem to do a pretty good job at that. Last year, Cromartie broke up 13 total passes, including two in a game against Andrew Luck and Alex Smith. And last year at Alabama Milliner showed the world why he was worthy of a first-round draft pick through his ability to defend the pass. Milliner batted down 18 passes in 13 games, including 2 knockdowns in both the SEC Championship Game vs. Georgia and in the BCS National Championship Game against Notre Dame. If Milliner can carry his talents over to the NFL, he should have no problem breaking up passes from Tom Brady and other opponents. As for Kyle Wilson, however, the same cannot be said for his talent. Last year, after being the number 2 corner because Revis got hurt, the former Boise State Bronco had just 4 passes defended all year. Now back in the nickel slot, Wilson will need to step up his game in order to succeed.
The Giants also have quite a slew of cornerbacks that can defend the pass. Last year, Corey Webster racked up 13 passes defended, including 3 in a game against Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco. However, one should not praise Webster so much because the reasons he had so many pass break-ups is likely because he was being thrown at more. Because he played awful, quarterbacks would throw his way more giving him a greater chance to defend passes. Also, last time Terrell Thomas played a full year he had a mind-boggling 21 passes defended, which is quite an accomplishment. Although Thomas may not bring the same talent to the Giants today because of an injury that caused him to miss two seasons, he still should be a quality corner. As for Amukamara, he had 7 bat downs on the year, although if you take away a performance against the 49ers in which he had 3 in one game, he only broke up 4 on the year. Although he showed major potential in his sophomore season and he easily beat out Kyle Wilson, it is still by no means a mind-blowing stat for a number 2 corner.
Team Better at Breaking up the Pass: Push
TEAM WITH THE OVERALL BETTER CORNERS: NEW YORK JETS
If you overthink it too much it may seem that the Giants have a chance at giving the Jets a run for their money, the Jets are the obvious choice. When it comes down to it, the wise option to do is to compare each corner to its counterpart on the other team. In the battle of the number 1 corners, Antonio Cromartie easily beats out Webster. Webster gives up too many yards and WAY too many touchdowns. As for number 2 corners, I feel that Dee Milliner has an edge over Prince Amukamara. Milliner’s ability to shutdown receivers and play the ball is spectacular, and although we haven’t seen it yet in the NFL I would still take him over Amukamara, who I am by no means trying to bash here. And finally, the Giants finally have an edge over the Jets in the battle of the nickel corners. Terrell Thomas has proven he can play phenomenally and if he can recover from his injury just decently he will be able to dominate the atrocious Kyle Wilson. So it finishes 2-1 in favor of the Jets, with the Giants only winning the least important battle.
As always, feel free to voice your opinion on the article in the comment section below. I anticipate to hear some of your counter-arguments.