Lito Sheppard has not had a good preseason, let me start this article with that acknowledgment. He has been beaten both in the shot game and over the top, and has been called for some pass interference calls that have cost the Jets field position and points.
However lets not judge him by this alone, by defensive coordinator Mike Pettine's own admission, he has been placed on an island without a raft and asked to perform in situations that he won't see himself in all that often this season
I have heard some fans already calling him a failure, some going so far as to say that he should of been cut in the preseason. Which makes me ask the question how long have these fans been watching the game. Did they not see him in 2004, and 2006, his pro bowl years, when he was actually starting.
I'm a advocate of giving people chances, that's why earlier in the preseason I said that we should stay put at the wide receiver position, and why we should hold judgement on Vernon Gholston at least until the end of this season, and that's why I'm saying that Lito is far superior to anything else we have, and anything else we have had in some times.
Sometimes he is going to get beat, show me a number two corner that doesn't, but he will give us more positives than negatives this season. As for people mentioning the pass interference calls, a couple of them were from officials who seemingly liked the sound of their own whistle.
Lito for the majority of the preseason was playing man-to-man coverage, and that was a problem, he is more of a zone defender, we knew that when we got him.
This season he is not going to be put on a island, he will have help from over the top, it's suits our scheme and Lito's strengths that we have a corner opposite him who can shut opponents down in man to man coverage.
It still astounds me that people do not consider Darrelle Revis to be a premier cornerback in this league, they obviously didn't watch much football last season.
Sheppard likes to get his hands on receivers, that's why we will use him in press situations this year, let him do what he does best, disrupt the receiver off the line, at times he will get called for pass interference. However 90 percent of corners in the league make contact with the receivers at some point during the route, it's a case of what the officials see and how they are going to call it.
It just so happens that during the pre-season we had some very whistle friendly officials who felt like stamping their authority on the game.
He has short area quickness, good allignment and above average under-neath coverage skills. He has excellent hands, and ball hawking skills. There will be times this season where he will have to play man-to-man, and he will get beat, that's football, it happens.
Some are saying that Lowery should start ahead of him? I don't think so, for all Lito's short comings, he is ahead of Lowery at this stage in his career. He doesn't have excellent speed but with help over the top he shouldn't need it.
Not to mention that he is adapting to a new defence, a pass that people seem to give to the other key additions to the Jets but not to Lito. It seems that before a ball has been snapped people are writing him off, because of the way his reign with the Eagles ended.
He won't be at his best straight away, he hasn't started as a corner for a while, but around week five-six, I expect to see the best of Lito, and a return to his pro bowl performance is not completely off the cards. He runs on confidence, and I hope he doesn't read some comments made by Jets fans about his ability.
Give him a chance, remember he will be picked on a lot this season, and he wont shut down every receiver that lines up against him, but over the course of a full 16 game season, his positives I believe will outweigh his negatives.
I hope that he manages to stay healthy. There is a reason why the aging Ty Law was brought in and Dwight Lowery benched last year, and for the people who are crying for a Lowery start, you might be regretting these words if Lito does go down this season.
I'm not intending to knock Lowery, but right now he is not ready, and I personally feel that he is much more suited to the safety position in the NFL.
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