Marcus Maye hasn’t been here long, but the Jets’ second-round safety is proving to be as good as advertised.
Maye gave fans a glimpse of his ball-hawking skills Saturday, picking off Josh McCown during the Green and White scrimmage at MetLife Stadium. Maye got his hands on the pass near the left sideline and scampered 60 yards for the score.
On a night when the defense outperformed the offense led by McCown, Christian Hackenberg and Bryce Petty, it was Maye who provided the unit’s biggest play.
“He’s been good,” Todd Bowles said of the 6-foot, 207-pound Maye. “He’s been solid. He doesn’t play like a rookie, so we just hope he keeps getting better.”
To his teammates, Maye has been more than just “solid.” He’s been downright impressive. Steve McClendon said he has no doubt that Maye belongs in the NFL. “I said that in OTAs,” the 31-year-old nose tackle said.
The Jets revamped their secondary when they released injured safety Marcus Gilchrist in May and traded Calvin Pryor to the Browns a month later. The writing appeared to be on the wall for both when the Jets selected back-to-back safeties for the first time in the first two rounds of the draft in late April — LSU’s Jamal Adams at No. 6 and Florida’s Maye at No. 39.
The two have impressed coaches and teammates with their physical play and vocalness on the field.
“They both came in red-hot communicating on the first day we showed up. When the veterans were out there with them,” McLendon said. “And that’s the most amazing thing for me, to see a young guy come in and communicate. Not really scared to talk, because we need it.
“They’re going to see something that we’re not going to see because we’re down in the dirt. They can see something the linebackers might not see because the linebackers are so focused on the quarterback, the ball, their man, their assignment. So it’s good to have young safeties that come in and do their job.”
McCown joked that the biggest play of the night technically wouldn’t have happened in a real game. “You classify it as a pick-6,” he said, “but since we’re not taking people to the ground and we have red jerseys on . . . ’’
McCown also is impressed by the budding young safety.
“Marcus made a great play,” said McCown, who committed the scrimmage’s only turnover. “We’ve talked about these two young safeties for a while now and how they carry themselves. He made a heck of a play, and so hats off to him. On my end, I’ll look at that and go, ‘What happened? How do we avoid that, because we can’t have turnovers.’
“So I grade myself pretty hard because I don’t want to see that happen, but also sometimes you’re doing everything you’re supposed to do and a guy on the other end makes a play. It happens.”
The Jets hope the pick-6 is just the first of many big plays by Maye.
“When I turned around, man, he was in the end zone,” McLendon said. “I think it’s amazing. Especially for a young guy to come in and get a pick-6, and he’s doing it in front of his fans.’’
The Jets will face the Titans on Saturday in their first preseason game.
“Hopefully, we can just carry it over to next week,’’ McLendon said. “It might not seem like much right now, but you build on these little things.”