New York Jets: Antonio Cromartie

Rapid Reaction: Jets 35, Colts 9

October, 14, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Jets played their best all-around game of the season, overwhelming the young and rebuilding Colts 35-9 at MetLife Stadium. The Jets (3-3) snapped a two-game losing streak in what amounted to a must-win.

What it means: After four weeks of ugly and occasionally mediocre football, the Jets needed a confidence-boosting win. For one afternoon anyway, they regained their Ground & Pound identity -- Shonn Greene ran for a career-high 161 yards and three TDs -- and they played suffocating defense. They'll need the positive vibes because the Patriots are up next.

QB controversy on hold: Mark Sanchez tightened his grip on the starting job with an efficient performance against the defensively challenged Colts. Sanchez (11-for-18, 82 yards, no interceptions) threw a couple of 5-yard TD passes, fitting the ball into tight windows. Obviously, he benefited from a strong running game and sound pass protection, but give him credit: He didn't let the speculation about his job security bother him. Biggest positive: The Jets didn't commit a turnover for the first time in 17 games.

In the Nick of Tim: For a change, the Jets seemed to have a plan for Tim Tebow. He played only six snaps on offense, but he made a key play -- a third-and-1 run out of shotgun, setting up a TD. It was a clever play by coordinator Tony Sparano. He emptied the backfield and let Tebow run it up the gut from the Colts' 8. Moments earlier, Tebow the personal protector made the biggest play of the game. Yep, another fake punt. He took a direct snap and threw a little jump pass to LB Nick Bellore, who ran like an over-caffeinated madman for 23 yards. Great call, great execution.

Greene day: Nice of you to join the season, Mr. Greene. Running with the determination of a man concerned about his starting job, Greene produced his first 100-yard rushing day in 10 games. He scored three touchdowns (10, 4 and 2 yards), including -- are you ready for this? -- a nifty spin move on one TD. He escaped S Antoine Bethea behind the line, showing vision and quick feet. This was a different Greene. He demonstrated cutback ability and elusiveness, capitalizing on a dominant performance by the offensive line.

Ground & Pound: The Jets rushed for a season-high 252 yards, hammering an overmatched Colts front seven. The highlight was a 61-yard run by Joe McKnight, their longest run in three years. It was a vintage performance by the offensive linemen. They took a smashmouth approach, using a lot of two-TE packages. At times, the Jets used two tight ends in the backfield. There were some nice wrinkles in the running attack, but the story of the game was brute force. The Jets were too strong at the point of attack. Don't throw a parade, though: The Colts' run defense is awful. Their base defense had been allowing 5.1 yards per carry, worst in the league for a 3-4 team.

On the downside: Greene might have to carry the running game in the coming weeks because Bilal Powell (shoulder) and McKnight (ankle) left the game with injuries. The only other healthy back is rookie Jonathan Grimes.

Tough Luck, kid: Colts QB Andrew Luck (22-for-44, 280 yards, two interceptions) will be a great player someday -- but this wasn't his day. He was pressured by a previously nonexistent Jets pass rush, threw two interceptions, missed open receivers and couldn't get the ball to his go-to receiver, Reggie Wayne. CB Antonio Cromartie (three penalties) did a nice job on Wayne, intercepting one pass and holding him to three catches for 32 yards. The Jets' young linemen, Quinton Coples and Muhammad Wilkerson, played their best game. Pass-rusher Aaron Maybin also joined the party.

What's ahead: The Jets hit the road for the first time in a month, facing the first-place Patriots (3-2). The Jets have dropped three of the past four in the series.

Coach's big decision: Trick or treat?

October, 13, 2012
Halloween still is a couple of weeks away, but we saw some tricks last Monday night from Rex Ryan -- a fake punt, an onsides kick, two fourth-down gambles in his own territory and a cornerback playing wide receiver. Ryan knew he'd have to make some bold decisions to stay with the high-powered Texans -- and his strategy came within a couple of tipped passes of paying off.

Now the question is, does he remain Riverboat Rex on Sunday against the Colts?

In theory, Ryan shouldn't have to rely on gadgets to beat the rebuilding Colts (2-2). The Jets are the physically superior team and they should be able to control the game by doing the things they're supposed to be good at. They shouldn't have to steal a possession by trying an onside kick. If Ryan gets too cute, he'll be playing into the Colts' hands.

You may see some wrinkles on the defensive front -- they have to compensate for having no healthy nose tackles -- but it won't be anything too outrageous. An encore for Antonio Cromartie at wide receiver? He might get a play or two, but why push it? After all, rookie WR Stephen Hill and TE Dustin Keller are slated to return, which should give QB Mark Sanchez enough weapons.

Ryan's approach last week was appropriate, but this is a different week and a different opponent. There's a huge gap between the Texans and Colts. Precocious rookie QB Andrew Luck gives the Colts a puncher's chance, but the Jets should be able to beat him without having to trick it up.

Cromartie the key for a Jets win

October, 11, 2012
Antonio CromartieAP Photo/Bill Kostroun

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- For a moment last Monday, Antonio Cromartie, now the de facto top corner for the Jets after Darrelle Revis’ season-ending injury, was vying for the top slot in the wide receiver rotation as well.

As Cromartie flew down the field he caught a pass from Mark Sanchez and nearly -- but not quite -- landed with both feet in bounds. Still, he looked back at the corner guarding him, Houston’s Johnathan Joseph, and pointed out how much separation he just got.

“I told him, ‘I play corner too and I just ran right by you,’” Cromartie said with a laugh.

Clearly, Cromartie has the mouth to play wide receiver, but he’s much more necessary at his natural spot.

With a confidence so solid that he asserted he was the top corner in the league once Revis went down, Cromartie is one of the few players in the NFL who could be used on every play. The Jets have certainly done their best to get every mile they can out of the former Charger and Cromartie has played wide receiver, returned kickoffs and, of course cornerback.

[+] EnlargeAntonio Cromartie and Darrelle Revis
AP Photos/David DrapkinAntonio Cromartie is the Jets' top corner in Darrelle Revis' absence.
“If it was winter he’d be playing in the NBA,” said special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff.

With a lean 6-2 frame, and impressive reaction time, you could make the mistake of thinking Cromartie was all athleticism and instinct, but defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said that would be an error. Cromartie will sit in meetings and call other players out for a lack of knowledge about opponents or schemes. He has studied offensive plays an additional 30 to 40 minutes every day since knowing he could be used there.

“I think it’s a well-kept secret; he prepares, I think, better than maybe any player I’ve been around,” Mike Pettine said. “He studies the tape inside, outside, backwards. He’ll embarrass the other defensive backs. They know that they better have looked at it pretty in depth or else he’s going to throw stuff at them that they’ll have no idea about.”

Cromartie has faced additional scrutiny after the loss of an irreplaceable Revis. Last week Cromartie was matched up on Andre Johnson, and limited him to one catch. This week he gets the Colts’ top receiver, Reggie Wayne.

“I think if (Wayne) just sat out there where he used to be, I think it’d be a little easier,” Ryan said. “We’d be able to identify where he is but they’re moving him around a little bit. It’s kind of hard to get your hands on him. They put him in the slot, they put him in a lot of bunches, they put him in what we call snugs, which is a two-man bunch. They don’t want you to get your hands on him, and that’s something that obviously, we’re going to try to do. They’re not just going to let (Cromartie) go out there and ‘D him up’ from the line of scrimmage. They’re going to move him. But, that should be a really good matchup.”

Isaiah Trufant said Cromartie was like a big brother to the defensive backs, and has taken on a leadership role seriously. With a sly sense of humor, Cromartie fits in perfectly on a defense with a lot of big personalities.

“He’s able to keep people smiling laughing but at the same time he’s one of those guys who definitely knows when it’s time to get serious,” linebacker Aaron Maybin said.

If he hasn’t backed it up on the field, there wouldn’t be much to celebrate. Cromartie would be just another stereotypical Jet who talked a bigger game than he could play.

“I think he realized once Darrelle went down, he made the statement, “Hey, I’m the best corner in the league, with him being down,’” Pettine said. “I think he realized it’s put up or shut up time. He’s responded and played really well and, obviously, we’re thrilled with that. It’s a tribute to him and, I think, how he’s gotten himself right mentally.”

Later against the Texans Cromartie went out on offense again, but this time he was the decoy. He drew double coverage, a safety and a corner, and that’s when running back Shonn Greene broke through for a 12-yard run. Even so, that’s not his main focus.

“My number one position right now is being the best corner in the NFL,” Cromartie said.

Which the Jets will just have to live with.

Rex fires back at T.O.

October, 11, 2012
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan disagreed with Terrell Owens' claim that the Jets are a desperate team because they played a cornerback -- Antonio Cromartie -- at wide receiver for five snaps in Monday night's loss to the Texans.

"Not just a corner," Ryan said Thursday. "Let's face it, he's the second-best receiver on our team."

That was a joking reference to Cromartie's headline-making quote from training camp, when it was revealed that he'd get a chance to play some receiver. On ESPN's "First Take," Cromartie said he'd be their second-best receiver, which chafed the other receivers, namely Chaz Schilens.

On Monday night, Cromartie and Mark Sanchez nearly hooked up for a long completion. Cromartie made an impressive, over-the-shoulder catch, but he was out of bounds because the pass drifted to the outside.

"After he went deep, I was like, 'He might have sold himself short,'" Ryan cracked.

Ryan gushed about Cromartie's athletic ability, particularly the way he has raised his performance at cornerback in the aftermath of Darrelle Revis' season-ending injury. Ryan has often referred to Revis and Deion Sanders as the two best all-around corners he's even seen, but Cromartie "has more (pure) ability than probably anybody I've ever seen at that position, him and Deion. He's starting to play that way."

Owens apparently wasn't impressed with Cromartie's receiving skills or the Jets' depth at receiver. During the Monday night telecast, the unemployed diva tweeted that he was ready, willing and able to help the Jets. The Jets have no interest in signing him. On Tuesday, Owens said in an interview that the Jets are more desperate than he is.

"When you have a defensive back playing offense and running routes, then I think that's more desperate than my actual tweet itself," Owens said.

Stock watch: Risers and fallers

October, 9, 2012
Some of the good and bad performances from Monday night's 23-17 loss to the Texans:


1. Antonio Cromartie: The Cro was flying. He shut down WR Andre Johnson (one catch on six targets), intercepted a pass and played a little wide receiver, nearly connecting with Mark Sanchez on a deep ball. Say this for Cromartie: In Darrelle Revis' absence, he's playing like a No. 1 corner.

2. Joe McKnight: The running back-turned-cornerback-turned running back is a terrific kickoff returner, and he proved it again with a 100-yard touchdown -- the second kickoff-return TD of his career. He deserves a bigger role on offense because he's one of the few explosive players on the roster.

3. Jeremy Kerley: The Jets' longest-tenured wide receiver (yeah, really) is developing into one of the best yards-after-catch threats in the league. He had five catches for 94 yards, including a 36-yarder.


1. Anybody who blocked J.J. Watt: The Texans' second-year DE took turns beating everyone on the Jets' offensive line. He finished with six tackles, one sack and three tipped passes. One tip probably saved a TD (Chaz Schilens was wide open in the end zone) and one resulted in an interception. Not only did Watt create problems for the guards and tackles, but he rolled up the ankle of C Nick Mangold, causing an undisclosed injury.

2. The Dropsy Twins. You have to make that catch, Jason Hill. Same to you, Jeff Cumberland.

3. Shonn Greene. Another subpar performance. After five games, the Jets' bell cow (as Rex Ryan calls him) has rushed for only 217 yards, a 2.9-yard average and eight first downs. For a bell cow, that's chopped liver.

Quarterly report: Playing time for D

October, 8, 2012
A playing-time breakdown for every player on defense through the first four games (284 snaps):


Muhammad Wilkerson -- 238 snaps, 84 percent

Mike DeVito -- 164 snaps, 58 percent

Sione Po'uha -- 128 snaps, 45 percent

Kenrick Ellis -- 110 snaps, 39 percent

Quinton Coples -- 104 snaps, 37 percent

Marcus Dixon -- 57 snaps, 20 percent


David Harris -- 284 snaps, 100 percent

Calvin Pace -- 274 snaps, 96 percent

Bart Scott -- 234 snaps, 82 percent

Garrett McIntyre -- 128 snaps, 45 percent

Aaron Maybin -- 48 snaps, 17 percent

Bryan Thomas -- 42 snaps, 15 percent

Josh Mauga -- 39 snaps, 14 percent

Demario Davis -- 16 snaps, 6 percent


Yeremiah Bell -- 284 snaps, 100 percent

LaRon Landry -- 272 snaps, 96 percent

Antonio Cromartie -- 266 snaps, 94 percent

Kyle Wilson -- 226 snaps, 80 percent

Darrelle Revis -- 93 snaps, 33 percent

Ellis Lankster -- 61 snaps, 21 percent

Eric Smith -- 55 snaps, 19 percent

Isaiah Trufant -- 9 snaps, 3 percent

Joe McKnight -- 2 snaps, 0.7 percent

Analysis: The biggest story here is Maybin's lack of playing time. You knew he'd fall short of his goal of becoming a full-time player, but 12 snaps per game is on the low side. DC Mike Pettine said Maybin will see more time Monday night, which means they could have a special package for him ... Look for Ellis and Coples to see increased playing time ... Davis is a surprise. He figured to be more involved in sub packages. They could use his speed on the field ... Tremendous durability by Bell and Harris.

Cromartie looks to emerge from Revis' shadow

October, 7, 2012
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Antonio Cromartie, who is now the Jets' de facto No. 1 cornerback, will have a whole new slate of receivers to match up against this year. Usually, handling the opposition’s top wide receiver would fall to Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis. Instead, Cromartie finds himself watching tape of Revis handing players like Houston’s Andre Johnson as he prepares this week.

“He’s one of the best receivers in the game,” Cromartie said of Johnson. “Throughout his whole 10-year career, I think he’s averaged 90, 91, 92 yards a game, every single game. He’s a big, physical receiver that can get in and out of his breaks ... He knows how to use his body very well. The biggest thing for me is just going in and playing my game, trying to be physical and just do the things I need to do.”

Jets defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said Cromartie will face a challenge when the Jets take on the Texans Monday night, especially after a 34-0 shellacking by the 49ers last week.

“I think it is a real big week for (Cromartie) because we’re going to ask a lot,” Pettine said. “We’re going to play our style of defense and there are going to be times against a team like this that runs the ball that well, (when) we’re going to have to be in some single-high defenses with eight players down around the box, so he’s going to have a decent amount of one-on-ones. It’s a big challenge and I know he’s up to it.”

Kyle Wilson will start opposite Cromartie for the second straight week. Some watched Wilson struggle in the role last week even as he celebrated a few plays.

“(Wilson is) not Darrelle, so we’re not going to hold him to that standard,” Pettine said. “Did he grade out pretty well? He did. I think one of the issues that came up was, we were forced to put him in some one-on-one situations because of how we were playing up front. Normally we could play some coverage calls to help the corners out, this goes for any game. When you’re not playing well up front, and you have to 'load the box,' to use a cliché, (to) stop the run. That puts a lot of pressure on your corners. It’s not as easy just to point it out and say they were missed opportunities. Those opportunities were created in large part because of what we felt we had to do to stop the run.”

For Cromartie, the challenge presens an opportunity to step out of Revis’ shadow. Jets coach Rex Ryan has often said Cromartie is a No. 1 receiver in his own right. Cromartie said he loves the opportunity to face a big-game player.

“Yeah, I love them,” Cromartie said. “Playing against bigger receivers, it matches up very well for me. I can use my length and things like that. I’m really looking forward to it. This is my third time playing the Texans in my career and I’ve never faced up against Andre. This is my first time facing him, so I’m definitely looking forward to it.”

And Cromartie said he wants the Texans to run it.

“You have to try and make sure they throw the ball more so than run the ball,” Cromartie said. “They do a great job running the ball. They have two backs, good backs with (Adrian) Foster and (Ben) Tate. The biggest thing for us is to make sure we make the tackle, make sure the first guy is there and the second guy is there to make the tackle and trusting the guys that we’re going to be there.”

Coach's big decision: Blitz Schaub?

October, 6, 2012
It's a statistical fact: Texans QB Matt Schaub is significantly less effective when facing added pressure. Against five or more pass rushers, he has completed only 50 percent of his passes, ranking 27th in the league in that category, according to ESPN Stats & Information. As a comparison, his completion rate is nearly 74 percent when facing four or fewer rushers.

The Jets are one of the most aggressive defenses in the league, so this should be a no-brainer, right? Not necessarily. The loss of CB Darrelle Revis could force them to alter their approach Monday night at MetLife Stadium.

If Rex Ryan and coordinator Mike Pettine dial up the blitz, it'll put their Revis-less secondary in a bind. It would leave new starting CB Kyle Wilson in a lot of single coverage. They got away with it last week -- they used a safety in the box to help the porous run defense -- but the 49ers' passing offense isn't nearly as dangerous as that of the Texans.

Wilson wouldn't get much safety help with WR Kevin Walter, whom he's likely to cover in man-to-man situations. Ditto, CB Antonio Cromartie, who will have his hands full with WR Andre Johnson. Revis always used to cover Johnson, essentially taking him out of the game, but now the chore falls to Cromartie, who will try to be aggressive with the physical Johnson.

The Jets would be playing with fire if they blitz Schaub. Then again, can they afford not to?

Playing time: Invisible Mayhem

October, 2, 2012
A breakdown of the defensive snaps from Sunday's game (based on a total of 72):


Muhammad Wilkerson -- 64

Mike DeVito -- 45

Sione Po'uha -- 45

Quinton Coples -- 41

Kenrick Ellis -- 39


David Harris -- 72

Calvin Pace -- 71

Bart Scott -- 61

Bryan Thomas -- 33

Demario Davis -- 10

Garrett McIntyre -- 7

Josh Mauga -- 2

Aaron Maybin -- 2


Yeremiah Bell -- 72

LaRon Landry -- 70

Antonio Cromartie -- 65

Kyle Wilson -- 63

Eric Smith -- 16

Ellis Lankster -- 12

Joe McKnight -- 2

Analysis: As expected, the Jets played more 4-3 than usual, resulting in higher play counts for the defensive linemen. No. 1 pick Coples played a season-high in terms of snap percentage ... Maybin played a season-low two snaps, in part, because he's not used in run-oriented packages -- and the 49ers spent most of the game running the ball ... McKnight made his 2012 debut, a cameo as a blitzing slot corner ... McIntyre's PT dropped way down with the return of Thomas ... No. 3 pick Davis played a season high ...

Sunday notes: Wildcat or pussy cat?

September, 30, 2012
Quick thoughts on the Jets and the NFL as we continue in Week 4:

1. Tiny Tim: Most of the Wildcat-related attention has focused on frequency: Are the Jets using it too much or too little? Forget about frequency; let's examine its effectiveness. So far, the Wildcat has been a bust. In 25 plays with Tim Tebow on the field, the Jets have averaged 3.1 yards per play, according to ESPN Stats & Information. In 167 plays without him, they've averaged 5.4.

The Jets will tell you Tebow's impact goes beyond the raw numbers -- i.e. the whole preparation-time-for-opponents argument -- but they aren't paying $2 million to the Broncos for "hidden" yardage. They expect production. Tebow himself is averaging 5.4 yards per rush, but it should be higher. He made bad reads on at least two read-option plays, according to a source, ruining potential big plays. As far as throwing, it's clear they don't trust him; he has no pass attempts.

Sunday's games against the 49ers should tell us a lot about how the Jets really feel about the Tebow package. The 49ers have allowed a league-high 70 yards on QB scrambles, including a 23-yard TD run last week by the Vikings' Christian Ponder. Take away the scramble yardage, and the 49ers are allowing only 3.0 yards per rush. This is a matchup that screams for more Tebow. If he's a non-factor again, it'll raise red flags.

2. Tannenbaum Island. The loss of Darrelle Revis puts the spotlight on CB Kyle Wilson -- and, by extension, GM Mike Tannenbaum, who picked Wilson in the first round of the 2010 draft. Elevating a former No. 1 pick into the lineup should be considered a luxury, but Wilson has been up and down in his career. The coaches are convinced he's ready for the promotion, but if he's not, it'll reflect poorly on the GM.

Without Revis, this is the time when their recent high draft picks should be taking over -- Wilson, Muhammad Wilkerson, Kenrick Ellis and Quinton Coples. The Jets have invested enough resources on defense to survive the loss of one player, but you wonder if this group -- with the possible exception of Wilkerson -- is ready to pick up the slack.

3. Magic Mike: Let's be fair with Tannenbaum. You have to credit him for the LaRon Landry signing. He's having a Pro Bowl-caliber year, with 21 tackles, one interception (for a TD) and one forced fumble.

4. Darrelle's future: Tannenbaum and Rex Ryan, responding to an story and other speculation on Revis' future, told Newsday the organization intends to sign the All-Pro corner to a long-term contract. He becomes a free agent after the 2013 season. Of course they want to re-sign him, but here's the bottom line: The knee injury clouds the situation and, if he's not signed by this time next year, the Jets will have to entertain the thought of trading him before the 2013 trading deadline. I'm not saying they will deal him, but they have to consider it because they could lose him with no compensation after '13. Remember, they can't use the franchise tag.

5. More Revis fallout: If I had $50 for every time I heard a player or coach use the phrase "step up" -- as in, other guys have to step up -- I'd have enough money to buy a piece of the team from Woody Johnson.

6. More Revis fallout II: One personnel executive told me that Revis is the only blue-chip talent on the Jets' defense. The executive ranked the remaining players this way, in order: LB David Harris, S LaRon Landry, OLB Calvin Pace, CB Antonio Cromartie and Wilkerson.

7. Sour taste: It's been a few days since the NFL settled with the game officials, but I still can't believe the league let it go on that long, let the integrity of the game be compromised to save a few bucks. It wasn't Roger Goodell's finest hour, to say the least. The furor will die down, of course, because the games always make people forget, even after they get ripped off. (We're so gullible.) But if the Packers-Seahawks debacle looms large at the end of the season -- if it costs the Packers a playoff spot -- it'll blow up again.

Interesting note from The New York Times, which reported that Woody Johnson was one of the owners that didn't want to settle by caving to public pressure. Maybe that explains why Ryan, knowing how his boss felt, held his tongue every time he was asked about the replacement refs.

8. The "Roger-and-Out" Bowl: The Packers (1-2) and Saints (0-3), two perennial contenders that can claim they were screwed by Roger Goodell, face each other Sunday in Green Bay. The loser will have a hard time making the playoffs, especially if it's the BountyGate Saints. The two teams already have more combined losses than they did for the entire 2011 season. Who'da thunk it?

9. Nobody beats the Whiz: Which team has the league's best record since Week 12 of last season? Surprise, it's the Cardinals at 8-1, per ESPN Stats. Ken Whisenhunt, a former Jets player and assistant coach, has always been among the most under-rated coaches in the league.

10. Passing craze. The Texans (3-0) are the only team that has passed on less than 50 percent of its plays, according to ESPN Stats. Memo to Jets: Fix the run defense. They host Houston next Monday night.

Coach's big decision: How to cover Vernon?

September, 29, 2012
In 2006, the Jets had TE Vernon Davis rated very highly on their draft board. In fact, he was in the conversation before they decided to use the fourth overall pick on LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson. On Sunday, they have to figure out a way to defend him. He's 6-foot-3, 250 pounds with 4.4 speed.

Davis has 13 receptions for 169 yards and four touchdowns, tied for the league lead.

"He's definitely a matchup problem with his size and speed," S Eric Smith said. "With his size, it's hard to put a corner on him. With his speed, it's hard to put a safety on him. He's going to cause a lot of problems you have to be aware of."

S LaRon Landry is the perfect candidate to cover Davis. He has the straight-line speed to keep up with him, and he has the tenacity to get physical with him at the line of scrimmage.

The 49ers like to use their two-TE package, which allows them to move Davis around the formation. No doubt, they will try to isolate him in space. It's conceivable the Jets could use CB Antonio Cromartie on Davis in certain situations; Cromartie has covered athletic tight ends in the past. Thing is, if they put Cromartie on Davis, it would leave them vulnerable in the cornerback-wide receiver matchups.

Yeah, they miss Darrelle Revis.

Rex admits clock-management faux pas

September, 26, 2012
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Rex Ryan admitted Wednesday that he failed to use his timeouts properly at the end of the first half in the Jets' overtime win over the Dolphins.

The Dolphins got the ball at their own 7 with 1:44 on the clock. Ryan had all three timeouts as his disposal, but he let the Dolphins burn precious time off the clock by not using his first timeout until it was fourth-and-12 with 47 seconds left.

"As it turned out, hindsight being 20/20, I probably should've used them and forced them to punt," Ryan said. "I probably could've done a better job with that."

Actually, the Dolphins did punt, but Eric Smith was flagged for roughing the kicker, allowing the Dolphins to retain possession and run out the clock.

WHAT A SELL JOB: Ryan opened his news conference with a long, effusive statement about the 49ers, making them sound like the 49ers of Montana, Rice and Lott. He said the 49ers' defense has seven blue-chip players, based on evaluations by the Jets' personnel department. Blue chip means All Pro-caliber.

"I don't know if I've ever seen that many," Ryan said.

SIBLING RIVALY: The Jets are ranked 21st in total defense, and that burns Ryan, whose unit finished last season at No. 5. But that's not the only thing that bothers him.

"When my twin brother is No. 1 in the league in defense, that stings a little bit," he said, referring to Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. "Clearly, we need to improve."

The two biggest concerns: Run defense (No. 28) and third-down defense (No. 32).

NOW PLAYING CORNERBACK: The Jets have tinkered with the idea, on and off, for a couple of years, but now it seems like they're committed to making RB Joe McKnight a cornerback. The season-ending injury to CB Darrelle Revis, coupled with McKnight's lack of playing time on offense, were the deciding factors. The handwriting was on the wall Tuesday, when the Jets signed RB Jonathan Grimes off the Texans' practice squad.

The Jets have four corners on the roster -- starters Antonio Cromartie and Kyle Wilson, plus backups Ellis Lankster and Isaiah Trufant. They're also expected to add a veteran once they place Revis on injured reserve. Free agent Chris Carr is slated for a tryout this week.

McKnight isn't expected to contribute immediately, but he has the tools to be a good corner, according to Ryan.

APPEAL TO FANS: It came off as kind of desperate, but Ryan implored the fans to be loud Sunday.

"I'm challenging our fans," he said. "They could very easily be the difference."

JIM YAWN-BAUGH: 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh sounded like he was half-asleep during a conference call with the New York media, often providing terse answers. When asked about the officating debacle Monday night, he said it was "disrespectful" to even pose that question to a coach.

Maybe he's still on West Coast time. The 49ers are practicing this week in Youngstown, Ohio, where they arrived after Sunday's loss in Minnesota. The way Harbaugh sees it, it saves them eight hours in travel time.

Injury Report: Revis and everybody else

September, 24, 2012
MIAMI -- The Jets’ injury report is headed by CB Darrelle Revis, who may have torn the ACL in his left knee in the third quarter.

Rex Ryan refused to characterize the severity of the injury, but a team source said late Sunday night the fear is that he tore the ACL -- which would be a season-ending injury.

Revis is scheduled Monday for an MRI exam.

WR Stephen Hill suffered an apparent hamstring injury late in the game. He tried to return, but went out again. CB Antonio Cromartie returned to the game after aggravating a shoulder injury he suffered in Week 1.

Dolphins RB Reggie Bush injured his knee in the second quarter and didn’t return.

“Reggie, I guess he was doing his thing for a quarter or two,” LB Calvin Pace said. “We had to put him on out, and we didn’t see him again after that.”

McKnight: Let's win one for Tony

September, 20, 2012
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Offensive coordinator Tony Sparano hasn't made any personal comments about the Dolphins this week in meetings, according to players. But they know the story, how Sparano was fired by the Dolphins with three games remaining last season. RB Joe McKnight said they'd like to win Sunday for Sparano.

"We want to go out and win for him, just so he can get his last laugh," McKnight said Thursday. "The last laugh always laughs loudest."

Sparano was 29-32 in three-plus seasons as the Dolphins' head coach, including a 3-2 mark against the Jets.

Joe McKnight
Rob Carr/Getty ImagesJoe McKnight
THE MORE YOU CAN DO: McKnight said he has been taking reps this week as a cornerback with the second-team defense. Darrelle Revis is expected to return from his concussion, but they could lose a corner with Ellis Lankster (back) up in the air after getting hurt Wednesday in practice. That would leave Isaiah Trufant as the No. 4 corner, followed by McKnight.

McKnight has taken cornerback reps in the past. He got into a game last season -- one play against the Ravens. Rex Ryan said Wednesday that McKnight, recovered from a hamstring injury, could have an expanded role this week. We all thought he meant on offense; maybe there's a chance he makes a cameo on defense.

TROUBLE FOR THE TERMINATOR: FB John Conner (sprained knee) missed practice for the second straight day, and his chances of playing Sunday appear remote. He had a brace on his right knee and was favoring it as he performed basic rehab exercises. Conner is the only natural fullback on the roster. They can use TE Konrad Reuland in the backfield, as they did last week.

It also appears that OLB Bryan Thomas (hamstring) won't play, meaning another start for Garrett McIntyre, who had two sacks last week.

HE'S PLAYING: Listen to the first five questions to CB Darrelle Revis, who spoke to reporters after practice.

Q: How do you feel?

A: I feel good.

Q: How confident are you that you can play Sunday?

PanthersGiantsA: I’m playing Sunday.

Q: How confident are you that you will play?

A: I'm playing.

Q: Did you pass the concussion tests this morning?

A: Yeah, the doctors cleared me, so I’ll be playing Sunday.

Q: Do you have to take more tests?

A: No, I got cleared, so I’ll be playing.

All right, then ...

AS THE CRO FLIES: Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine gave an honest assessment of Mike Wallace's 37-yard TD reception, saying of CB Antonio Cromartie, "Yeah, (he) just didn’t play the ball. Early on, I thought he was in good position, and then I don’t know whether he lost it. It was just one of those situations where he didn’t play the ball and Wallace did. We say it’s a game of inches, you could say it was a game of centimeters on that one. It was very close to being a long foul ball. Give them credit and obviously, we have to play the ball better."

Harris, Holmes on Forbes overpaid list

September, 19, 2012

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- This isn't the kind of list you want to be on. Forbes magazine published its list of the most overpaid NFL players, and three Jets made the top-10 list:

1. David Harris, LB, Jets -- $12 million

2. Karlos Dansby, LB, Dolphins -- $10.7 million

3. Johnathan Joseph, CB, Texans -- $9.75 million

4. Marcedes Lewis, TE, Jaguars -- $9.6 million

5. Santonio Holmes, WR, Jets -- $9.25 million

CB Antonio Cromartie ($8.25 million) was mentioned in the next five, along with Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams ($8.7 million), Seahawks WR Sidney Rice ($8.2 million), 49ers TE Vernon Davis ($8.0 million) and Raiders RB Darren McFadden ($7.8 million).