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An In-Depth Look At New Secondary Coach Mark Carrier, Part II

Mark Carrier, Jets
Mark Carrier, Jets

You can see part I here, where I look at Carrier's playing career and his four years as a secondary coach with the Baltimore Ravens. This is the second and final part, where I discuss Carrier's switch to the New York Jets and his future with the Bengals:

To me, Mark Carrier certainly proved that he is a capable and smart secondary coach during his time with the Baltimore Ravens. He certainly has a good amount of experience with the job, and it appeared that he would be on his way up the coaching ladder. It really surprises me that he then took a job as the Defensive Line coach with the Jets in 2010. To explain his motives for the switch, Carrier cited comfort with his former Defensive Coordinator Rex Ryan, along with a chance to step outside his comfort zone:

"This is a chance for me to learn the front end and put the whole defense together and help me with my goal," Carrier said. "It’s stepping out of my box, out of my comfort zone. But it’s a great opportunity for me to grow as a coach, to build my resume, to enhance my career."

"Rex gave me my chance here [in Baltimore], so I feel very comfortable with him," Carrier said. "I can almost 100 percent say I wouldn’t have done this for [just] anybody. It would have to be the right situation and this is the right situation for me."

+Jets: I won't get into too much detail about his time with the Jets (since this was defensive line, not the secondary), but Carrier did an adequate job with his new defensive unit. Carrier worked DE Mike Devito (undrafted) into a solid starter, replacing the once-great Kris Jenkins when Jenkins went down to injury early in September of 2010. Carrier also helped develop Sione Pouha, another powerful run-stopping defensive tackle. Pouha's Pro Football Focus run defense grade of +27.2 was the second best grade for any defensive lineman in the NFL this year. Carrier also oversaw the development of Muhammed Wilkerson, the Jet's 2011 first rounder. Wilkerson tallied the second most snaps of any defensive lineman on the team and (among Jets' circles) is expected to be a breakout player next year.

From what I gathered from the Jets' fans over at Gang Green Nation, the biggest knock on Carrier was that he failed to create much of a pass rush from his defensive line. One writer had this to say about the departure of Carrrier:

Carrier was no doubt a good coach, bringing Mike Devito and Sione Pouha from obscurity into dependably starters, and coaching Muhammad Wilkerson into Shaun Ellis' replacement. However, as good as our line has been historically with stopping the run (there are a few notable exceptions this past season), there hasn't been much pass rush.

Statistically, the Jets finished 3rd in rushing yards allowed per play in 2010, and seventh in 2011. They finished 8th in sacks (40) in 2010 and 17th (35) in 2011. However, using sacks as the only measure of judgment oversimplifies the Jets pass rush problems. In 2011, Pro Football Focus grade only one player on the D-line positively in the pass rush category- Sione Pouha, who had a +0.7 grade (Geno Atkins had a +21.3, for reference).

+Overall: I've come to the conclusion that Mark Carrier is not only a good hire, but a good candidate to become a Defensive Coordinator for the Bengals or any other team. He has extensive experience as both a player and a secondary coach, as well as experience in coaching other units on the defense. He's been tutored by one of the best defensive minds in football (Rex Ryan), and has a very impressive resume.

I'm extremely pleased with this hire, and I'm glad that the Bengals are stocking their coaching staff with possible replacements (e.g. Hue Jackson) when/if Jay Gruden or Mike Zimmer leave for a head coaching opportunity elsewhere.