The bye week is a good opportunity to sit back and take stock of the season to date. The team has gone from the devastating injury to Aaron Rodgers just four snaps into the season, to sitting at 3-3 having beaten the heavily favoured Buffalo Bills and Philadelphia Eagles. It’s been a season of momentum shifts, devastating injuries and pleasant surprises.

One of those pleasant surprises has to be the performance of Bryce Hall, the Jets 5th round pick out of Virginia back in 2020.

For many the fact that Hall was available in the 5th-round was a shocking surprise, as some outlets like CBS had released mocks with Bryce in the top-10 of the first-round, but an ankle injury his senior season caused his draft stock to plummet.

It’s rare in the modern NFL, where the passing game is king, that you have the opportunity to draft a player in the fifth round with the resume of Hall.

Over the course of four years at Virginia, the Pennsylvania native allowed just 48.9% of passes to be completed into his coverage with 5 interceptions and 31 passes broken up. In 2018, he was arguably the best cornerback in college football allowing 47.2% of passes his way to be completed with 2 interceptions and 18 passes defended.

When the Jets took him with the 158th pick in the draft, many saw it as a steal.

He allowed just 2 touchdowns during his rookie season, with 1 interception and 2 passes broken up. But it was a big learning curve for Hall who was still recovering from that ankle injury. He missed all of his rookie training camp and much of the early-season. But his play towards the backend of the 2020 season which included an interception of Jared Goff in the Jets 23-20 win over the Rams gave the team confidence to start Hall heading into 2021.

With a new coaching staff, new system and an opportunity for a full training camp, expectations were high for Hall heading into year two. His completion percentage against dropped from 75% to 59.1%, and while he did allow 6 touchdowns on 93 targets, he also put up 14 pass breakups, the third highest mark in football.

Following the arrival of Sauce Gardner through the draft and DJ Reed through free-agency, Hall’s role within the team changed. He was no longer an every down starter, and whilst that must have been disappointing, he attacked the situation rather than let it get him down. He had to stay patient and work on different areas of his game in practice, but that patience paid off in a big way.

Having seen the field for just 15 defensive snaps in 2022, Hall was called upon to start against Denver in week five this season following injuries to DJ Reed and backup outside corner Brandin Echols.

Not only did Hall allow just 12 yards through the air, he was also responsible for the scoop and score that sealed the game for the Jets following a Quincy Williams forced fumble. He scooped the ball right up against the sideline and took it to the house.

One week later, he was called on to start again, against one of the best offences in football in the Philadelphia Eagles, and again he came through with a big interception in the fourth quarter, whilst allowing only 50% of passes into his coverage to be completed.

Coach Saleh was asked about Bryce Hall following the game against Denver, about his patience, his work-ethic, and his adaptability. How a player reacted after going from starter to back-up, to not having played in over a year to sealing the game.

There’s no better way to finish this week’s column than with the quote in full.

“Yeah, Bryce Hall, I thought he did a really nice job. It was awesome for him to get his opportunity again, because it’s not easy, kind of in the same situation is Zach (Wilson) in the sense that he was the starting corner. Then we drafted Sauce (Gardner), we paid DJ (Reed). So, he had to take this backup role and he sat back. 

He learned, still did everything, prepared the way he needed to, did everything that was asked of him. Actually went from being a guy that Brant Boyer wanted nothing to do with on special teams to being a guy that he was like, “God, I can’t live without him”, where he needed Bryce out there. So, credit to him and the way he’s approached it as a pro and for him to get his opportunity. I think we were all confident that he was going to do pretty good and I thought he was outstanding yesterday.”