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New York Jets’ Signing of S Yeremiah Bell Gives Rex Ryan Versatility in His Defensive Packaging

As previously reported here on this blog, the New York Jets have agreed to terms with former Miami Dolphins safety Yeremiah Bell on a one-year, $1.4 million deal.

The 34-year-old Bell spent the first nine seasons of his NFL career in Miami, earning a Pro Bowl selection in 2009. The Philadelphia Eagles were also interested in his services but he chose the Jets instead.

What it means, first and foremost, is that Jets head coach Rex Ryan just got another versatile player to fit into his always evolving, dynamic defensive scheme.

Last year, the defensive back depth, especially at safety, was admittedly poor.

You’ve got all-world talent on one side of the field with Darrelle Revis, and Antonio Cromartie is a Pro Bowl-caliber player on the other side. The middle of the field, on the other hand, could use some work.

Eric Smith is the biggest name returning for another season, but the offseason signings of Bell and LaRon Landry will move Smith into a reduced role on defense, perhaps allowing him more snaps on special teams.

The Jets drafted defensive backs Josh Bush and Antonio Allen on day 3 of the 2012 NFL Draft, and they also have young DB’s Ryan Steed and DeAngelo Smith in camp, among others.

Right now, I would project Landry and Bell to be the starting safeties, or perhaps the two of them and Eric Smith splitting snaps equally depending on the situation.

Allen could see time in the 46 defense packages that are a Ryan family tradition. The 46 is somewhat unconventional, but the Jets might have the personnel to run it semi-regularly this season.

In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising at all to see the Jets switching personnel packages and formations as Rex Ryan sees fit. 3-4, 4-3, 46, hybrids, you name it. Expect the unexpected in 2012.

They’ve got depth and versatility up and down on defense, from the defensive line to linebackers and now the defensive backs, which get a boost from the affordable addition of the veteran Bell.

Bell is capable of playing close to the line of scrimmage as an in-the-box safety, or as a deep safety if needed. He’s up there in age now, but with the depth the Jets have now, expect Ryan to scheme around it.

There are, of course only 11 starters on defense. But don’t be surprised if you see 15-20 or so defenders subbing in and out this year, in any given game, at any given time.

One of Rex Ryan’s goals as a defensive mastermind is to drive the offense crazy trying to figure out which side of the formation is the strong side, and they’ve the pieces now to be even more unpredictable than ever.

That’s going to be fun to watch for Jets fans. Just not that fun for opposing offenses.


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