Bless Austin transforming hard Jets lesson is potential turning point

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Jets coach Adam Gase was talking about cornerback Bless Austin’s rookie season last year and said, “He didn’t even know what he didn’t know.”

But Austin learned one lesson the hard way at the end of the year.

Austin became a starter midway though last season. In their Week 16 matchup with the Steelers, the Jets had a 10-3 lead and Pittsburgh had the ball on the Jets’ 29-yard line with 9 seconds left in the first half. Austin got beat for a touchdown by Diontae Johnson.

The game was tied, defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was livid, and Austin did not play another snap that day or in the season finale the following week.

Austin said Thursday it was a learning moment for him.

Jets
Diontae Johnson of the Steelers scores a touchdown in front of Bless Austin.Robert Sabo

“It happened because it was situational football and just not understanding the game,” Austin said. “It was the last play of the half. They only had one more play. Just understanding that, they have to take a shot to the end zone. Me having a lack of awareness in that situation is what got me yanked out of that game, which should have happened. When you’re out there and you’re unaware of the situation in the football game, you place your team in a bad situation to come out victorious. That’s what happened. I learned a lesson from it, and it’s time to move on.”

Austin is back for his second season with a renewed focus. He said he spent the offseason studying situational football, writing down plays and schemes in notebooks as he studied film. Austin hopes to point to that moment against the Steelers as the turning point in his career.

“No doubt about it, I think that needed to happen very early on in my career,” Austin said. “It was definitely a pivotal moment. I just learned the severity of not paying attention to detail. When you’re a young guy, you kind of get away with not paying attention to detail. You just want to go through the motions. That was a situation right there where I learned the severity of the consequences you pay for not honing in and paying attention to detail.”

Austin has a good shot to be a starting cornerback this season. He showed a lot of ability in the second half of last season after recovering from a knee injury he suffered in college.

Gase said Austin impressed him last season and he looks more prepared this year.

“Confidence, like real confidence,” Gase said of what Austin displayed last year. “If something bad happens, he moves on to the next play. To me, it’s the hardest thing to learn as a young corner is you’re going to get beat, and it’s about how you bounce back and what you do the next play. I do think his knowledge of the playbook is getting better day-to-day.”

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