Welcome to the Spotlight. Here we spotlight one key player for each game of the season, hopefully putting a different player in the spotlight each week. Today's player in the spotlight is New York Jets cornerback Juston Burris.
Juston Burris is a 23 year old 6' 0" , 212 pound cornerback out of North Carolina State University. Burris was drafted by the New York Jets with the 118th overall selection in the fourth round of the 2016 NFL draft.
Juston Burris got off to a slow start in his career, barely seeing the field for most of his rookie 2016 season. It was not a surprise; fourth round rookies rarely win starting jobs right out of training camp. As the Jets defensive backfield struggled mightily week after week, however, Jets fans began to wonder why the Jets didn't change things up and give the rookie a chance. The last few weeks the Jets have done just that, with mixed results. Burris has been playing nearly every snap the last couple of weeks. Two weeks ago against the San Francisco 49ers and their league worst cast of wide receivers Burris looked good, shutting down his matchups for most of the game. Last week against a better level of competition Burris managed to make a play with an interception, something in short supply this year for the Jets. However, Burris also struggled in coverage most of the game against the Dolphins, getting beat several times against the Dolphins' better level of competition.
This week the competition takes another giant leap up in quality,. Today Juston Burris will take on the formidable challenge of trying to best Tom Brady and the Patriots. It is an unenviable task. Brady has made a career of making better cornerbacks than Burris look foolish. Nonetheless, Burris is starting, and he will have to take his lumps.
Today is a chance for Juston Burris to get thrown into the deep end of the pool against the greatest quarterback of our generation, and perhaps the greatest to ever play the game. Burris will likely be picked on; Brady is no fool, and rookies present a target too appealing to pass up. Burris will likely get beaten, perhaps repeatedly, unless Darrelle Revis presents an even more appealing matchup. The Jets will likely lose. Noneheless, this presents Burris with an opportunity.
Everyone on this Jets team is playing for their 2017 jobs right now. Burris is being handed a golden opportunity for a 4th round rookie to start at cornerback. This is Juston Burris' moment in the spotlight. This is his chance to shine. The Jets will likely completely overhaul their defensive backfield in the offseason. Burris is one of the few potential building blocks likely to be exempt from the housecleaning. If Burris can show he belongs, that he is capable of being a an effective starting outside cornerback in this league, it will make the Jets' offseason rebuilding program that much easier. For a 4th round rookie, the opportunities don't get much better than this. Show you belong out there, show you can hold your own against an all time great quarterback, and you might just secure yourself a starting spot for 2017, while filling one of the many holes on this roster.
The 2016 NFL season is over for all practical purposes for the 4-10 Jets. The rest of the schedule will consist of extended tryouts for various Jets players for the 2017 roster and depth chart. If Juston Burris can finish the season strong and establish that he is worthy of a starting outside cornerback role in 2017 the Jets will be that much closer to fielding a competitive team next year. Against perhaps the best team in the NFL, and perhaps the best quarterback in NFL history, this is a chance for Burris to shine. No doubt he will get beaten; no doubt he will be picked on. How he responds will be instructive. This is Juston Burris' time to shine. This is an opportunity for a 4th round rookie to stake his claim to a starting position in the NFL. Juston Burris, the spotlight is yours. May you shine brightly today in the cold and rainy depths of Gillette Stadium this afternoon.