2. The safeties.
Elam. Can he make everyone forget about Huff? Elam should be playing his ass off to demonstrate that Ryan made a wise decision by bringing him back to Dallas. He can’t start out a new contract in a new city by missing tackles in run support or getting beat deep.
Sensabaugh. He will trying to prove that an effective partner at the safety position is all he needed to play at respectable level.
Both starting safeties are on one year contracts; neither can afford to get beat deep very often.
2.a. How will the general pass coverage hold up?
The key will be forcing 3rd and 6 or longer; all things being equal, you force 3rd and long by playing stout run defense. The key to being successful on 3rd and long is getting some pressure on the QB so that your secondary doesn’t have to cover for very long. If the Boys can get a consistent pass-rush and knock Sanchez down a few times, I think the secondary has a chance to play well enough not to lose the game.
If the offense can force the Jets to play from behind, the defense should be able to get enough pressure to force Sanchez into making mistakes; he threw 13 picks last year.
2.b. I will be evaluating the secondary as a single unit.
Much like the offensive line, I am not overly concerned about each individual player occasionally getting burned by a well-run route and crisp pass; it is bound to happen sometimes. But, I will be extremely concerned if they start to show signs of poor communication that results in missed assignments, blown coverages, or receivers being left to roam wide open. I know they are still implementing a complex system on short notice, but you can’t win games if you give up more than one or two easy TDs in this league.
2.c. How often will Ryan blitz a DB? Phillips rarely used his secondary as blitzers.