New York Jets: Antonio Cromartie

Cromartie claims he's not 'cowardly' snitch

November, 15, 2012
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Antonio Cromartie, never one to mince words, bashed the Tebow bashers.

"To me, it's stupidity," the veteran cornerback said Thursday, alluding to the unnamed teammates who criticized backup QB Tim Tebow in a published report. "The guy is a good teammate. He's done everything we've asked him to do. You can't say too much about him because he's a team player.

"You can't sit here and say, 'That guy's been terrible,'" Cromartie continued. "I don't understand why you would say that. What you see from him in practice, he's getting better. ... You can't sit here and bad mouth a teammate because, at the end of the day, that affects everyone in the locker room, especially that guy there."

Cromartie hasn't been criticial of Tebow, but he gave an emphatic defense of starter Mark Sanchez after Sunday's loss to the Seahawks. When asked to comment on those clamoring for Sanchez to be benched, Cromartie said, "They can kiss my ass."

Cromartie refuted LaDainian Tomlinson's contention that he was one of the players who ripped Tebow anonymously. Tomlinson, who played with Cromartie on the Chargers and Jets, made his comment Wednesday on SiriusXM Radio.

"I heard it, but I have no response for a retired player," Cromartie said. "Y'all know me. If I say something, I put my name on everything I say. I really don't care if I hurt somebody's feelings. That's not me. For me to sit here and talk about a teammate, nah. If I'm going to talk about a teammate, I'm going to tell him in person. I'm not going to go to the media and say I'm an anonymous-type person. I'm not that kind of cowardly person."

Rex stands by his man -- emphatically

November, 11, 2012
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Tim Tebow and Mark Sanchez Joe Nicholson/US PresswireMark Sanchez gives the Jets the best opportunity to win, not Tim Tebow, Rex Ryan says.

SEATTTLE -- Rex Ryan is standing by Mark Sanchez. If you don't agree, too bad.

After yet another lopsided loss, the Jets' coach expressed his confidence in the embattled Sanchez, turning defensive when asked to explain his loyalty.

"I believe we can win with Mark and I believe we can win with (Tim) Tebow, but I'm not going to let you or anyone else convince me otherwise," Ryan said after Sunday's 28-7 loss to the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field. "This is how I feel. It gives us the best opportunity to win games, and that's the only reason I make any move."

Pressed, Ryan became agitated.

"Well, that's what I believe," he said. "It's what I believe to be the truth. Why do I believe it? Because I believe it. I don't care what you think or what anybody else (thinks). I believe it. In my heart, I believe it. I've had (a lot) of years experience coaching football and I put my trust in him."

Sanchez struggled for the second straight game, completing only nine of 22 passes for 124 yards -- including 43 yards on one pass. The low point was a second-quarter interception at the Seahawks' 6, a late, telegraphed pass to TE Dustin Keller that changed the momentum of the game. It was 7-7 at the time.

It was Sanchez's fourth red-zone interception, one more than 2011.

"It's a critical error," Ryan said. "Those are things that really kill you down there."

Said Sanchez: "That was the start of things going bad. I have to play better than that, so it's on me."

Sanchez completed less than 50 percent of his passes for the fifth time in nine games, but he still has Ryan's support. Obviously, Ryan doesn't think Tebow could do any better or else he'd be playing.

Sanchez took Ryan's vote of confidence in stride, saying he didn't expect anything less.

"That never really crosses my mind," he said of his job security. "I'm too confident for that. We've won too many games together. We've had some great success here, so I don't expect anything different. It's my job to keep playing, play hard and make better decisions and help this team win."

Sanchez also received emphatic support from teammate Antonio Cromartie. Asked to respond to those who believe Sanchez should be benched, the outspoken cornerback said, "They can kiss my ass. Mark is our quarterback. At the end of the day, we couldn't give a damn what anybody has to say on the outside. Mark's our quarterback and will continue to be our quarterback. There's not going to be no division."

The Jets were dreadful on offense, managing only one drive inside the Seahawks' 20. They've scored only one offensive touchdown in their last eight quarters.

Sanchez's poor game came in front of his former college coach, Pete Carroll. They talked briefly before and after the game. Looking forward, Sanchez said he expects the Jets (3-6) to rebound.

"I know we can do it," he said. "I've seen our guys do it. It just has to turn and it starts with me."

Sunday notes: Ghosts of Tanny's past

November, 11, 2012
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SEATTLE -- A quick look at the Jets and the NFL:

1. Reunion Tour begins. GM Mike Tannenbaum has made a lot of good moves in seven years, but he's made some bad ones, too, and a couple of those could come back to haunt him Sunday here in Seattle. RB/KR Leon Washington and WR Braylon Edwards were key contributors for the Jets, but they traded Washington to the Seahawks for a fifth-round pick (2010) and declined to re-sign Edwards (2011). That they used the fifth-round pick on FB John Conner -- no longer on the team -- makes it look worse. The Jets miss Washington's explosiveness and his positive influence in the locker room. A lot of players were ticked off when they sent him packing.

For Tannenbaum, whose job security is a hot topic, the worst-case scenario is Washington and/or Edwards playing a prominent role in a Seahawks win. That wouldn't sit well with owner Woody Johnson. Next week, the Jets play the Rams, which means another encounter with blasts from the past -- former OC Brian Schottenheimer and OT Wayne Hunter.

2. Another quarterback? If you think the Jets' QB depth chart is crowded now, imagine if Terry Bradway got his way during the last draft. Bradway is the senior personnel executive and he lobbied hard for QB Russell Wilson, defensive coordinator Mike Pettine revealed. "(He) was the champion of Russell Wilson," Pettine said. "The joke was that they were calling him 'Russell Bradway.' He just loved him so much." Wilson was picked by the Seahawks in the third round (75th overall). The Jets selected LB Demario Davis two picks later. It would've been real interesting if the Seahawks had passed on Wilson and he was there for the Jets.

3. Another 'What-if?' QB scenario. Preparing to face Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, Tim Tebow shared a funny recruiting story, the time Carroll (then the USC coach) came to his house in Jacksonville. Before driving down a half-mile dirt road to the house, Carroll and two assistants noticed the Tebows had a Florida Gators mailbox. Said Tebow: "He told his assistant coach, ‘They have a Gator mailbox, what the heck am I doing here?’ I don’t know if that’s the language he used, but we had a great time." Tebow took an official visit to USC, where his host was Mark Sanchez. Obviously, he picked the Gators.

4. Everybody wants to know about Tim. I was introduced to a state-level politician recently. When he found out I covered the Jets, the first words out of his mouth were, "What in God's name ... (I knew immediately what he was going to ask) ... are the Jets doing with Tebow?" I wonder if Tebow's lack of PT gets discussed around the water coolers in the state capital.

5. Mayhem on ice? I wouldn't be at all surprised if OLB Aaron Maybin is inactive for Sunday's game. He played only five defensive snaps in the last game, and this week the Jets promoted OLB Ricky Sapp from the practice squad. Sapp will be active this week, and it's unlikely they will dress 10 linebackers for the game. Maybin isn't producing (four tackles, no sacks), but is it because he's playing poorly or he is a victim or limited playing time? He has only 119 defensive snaps, but he has nine QB hits. OLB Calvin Pace has a team-high 18 QB hits, but he has played 524 snaps. Do the math.

6. Rex runs a reverse. So let me get this straight. On Monday, Rex Ryan offered a pragmatic view of the Jets' plight, saying, "We're not sniffing the playoffs." He was excited, but realistic about the team's situation. On Thursday, he morphed into 2011 Rex, backing Antonio Cromartie's playoff guarantee. "Nobody wants to hear it, but who cares?" he said. "That's really how we feel and that's our mentality. Whether you like it our not, that's our mentality." Teams often are a reflection of their coach. The Jets are an inconsistent team and ... well, you can figure it out.

7. Bombs away. Look for a shootout between the Patriots and Bills. We're talking about two of the most passive defensive teams in the league. You wonder if the word "blitz" even appears in their playbooks. No two teams have used four or fewer pass rushers more often than the Patriots (84.8 percent of dropbacks) and the Bills (84.3 percent), according to ESPN Stats & Information.

8. Revenge game. I'd love to be a mind reader Monday night, when Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley faces the team that fired him last December, the Chiefs. This sort of thing happens all the time in the NFL, coaches facing former teams, but this has extra juice because of how Haley's ouster went down.

Haley and GM Scott Pioli, both products of the Jets' organization, had a serious falling out in Kansas City. It was so ugly that Haley actually suspected management -- read: Pioli -- of bugging rooms in the team facility to listen to private conversations. Now the Pioli's Chiefs are down, way down, and Haley's offense is humming. He downplayed it, but you just know that Haley wants to win -- and win big.

9. Sad state of a rivalry. The Cowboys are 3-5; the Eagles are 3-5. Didn't this used to be a great rivalry? The last time they played each other with losing records was October 28, 1990, per ESPN Stats. Somewhere, Buddy Ryan is laughing. Or cursing.

10. Say, Watt. I'm thinking Texans DE J.J. Watt will get my vote for NFL Defensive Player of the Year. Get this: Watt has recorded at least a half sack, a half tackle for loss or a batted/tipped pass on 30 plays this season, 12 more than the next highest defender, according to ESPN Stats. Something tells me the Texans aren't missing Mario Williams.

Defense expects to make playoff push

November, 6, 2012
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- On the first day back from a stressful bye week, the Jets' defense returned to a 3-5 record and some pretty long odds when it comes to making the playoffs. The team is not mathematically eliminated, and safety LaRon Landry, cornerback Antonio Cromartie and safety Yeremiah Bell think the Jets can post a successful second act.

“Most definitely,” Landry said. “Our mindset is to win each and every ballgame to get in the playoffs. We can’t just look at history as made.”

Landry thinks the team has the ability, but he also isn’t ready to just play out the string. There have been too many seasons when his teams limped to the finish line and he doesn’t want to see that happen to the Jets.

“I said we still could be in the playoffs running,” Landry said, “and I feel confident that we will do our best to get in the playoffs. That’s what it’s all about. If we don’t get in the playoffs, man, it’s a boring-ass season.”

Jets coach Rex Ryan addressed the team Monday morning, calling his words, “blunt force trauma, just tell it the way it is like always.” LB Aaron Maybin explained Ryan’s message to the team.

“Our record says that we’re this, and this is what people are expecting,” Maybin relayed, “but look at the numbers, this is where we are. We’re not where we want to be, but we're not as far off as people want to make us. It’s reassuring, it sounds good, but we still have to go out there and do the little things that are keeping us from getting the wins.”

Things looked bleak in 2010 as well, before a late-season run gave the Jets a playoff berth. Cromartie said that if those problems can be fixed, this is the right time to make a run.

“Definitely,” Cromartie said. “I think the months of November and December, that’s when most teams are made anyway. I think the biggest thing for us is just to make sure that we take care of the things we need to take care of one week at a time. Just take it and understand that when we say one week at a time, we have to focus in on that one week and not try to look forward to anything else.”

The Jets are playing in Seattle, a tough place for any team and one where the Jets have not been successful. The team will leave Friday and stay on east coast time. It doesn’t get much easier after Sunday, when the Jets travel to St. Louis for back-to-back road games.

“We’re definitely not where we want to be,” Bell said. “I think we’re middle of the pack somewhere and we want to be at the front of the pack, so in order to get that done these last 8 weeks it’s going to take max effort on our part and a little togetherness back there.”

But do the Jets have the ability to reach the playoffs?

“Yeah, we definitely have the resources to get back into this thing,” Bell said. “We have the players, we have the coaching staff and we have the “want to.” The thing is going to be just us on Sundays just going out there and executing. Like I said, we can’t help teams get a shot here, get a shot there and kind of stretch the game a little bit. So we’re going to have to be a lot more disciplined in that area.”

Not the typical bye week for Rex and Jets

November, 5, 2012
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Last week was supposed to be a relaxing time at home with his family, including his baby daughter, but Hurricane Sandy affected Jets WR Chaz Schilens in the same way it did millions of others in New York and New Jersey. What helped Schilens during the storm was the Jets practice facility, which remained operational.

“I was in town, but it wasn’t that great,” Schilens said. “I was thankful that this place was open. I don’t know if they had a generator or what but I think this was the only place in Madison and Florham Park that did have power for a few days so I was thankful for that.”

The Jets have a backup generator, which allowed players without power a place to shower and stay warm. Some players were able to get out of town right after the game, or rode out the storm and left soon after.

Aaron Berry wanted to drive home to Hershey, Penn. on Tuesday, but he was worried about finding gas. He was able to find a small station open, but they weren’t able to process his credit card, so he wrote a check.

Antonio Cromartie stayed in town with his family, and said he wasn’t able to get a flight and didn’t want to drive a long distance due to the trouble getting gas. So he got a hotel room and, when he went to fill up the gas tank on Thursday, it took three and a half hours.

Nick Mangold said he was thankful the storm did minor damange to his home. “It’s been difficult getting news and updates, we’re still without power,” Mangold said. “It’s a difficult kind of bye week but it could have been worse.”

Yeremiah Bell agreed that it didn’t seem much like a typical bye week.

“No it didn’t,” Bell said. “It was a strange bye week but at the same time we got a little time away and for the most part I think it was good to recap on what took place and you know where we need to go.”

Even coach Rex Ryan lost power, and still doesn’t have it.

“But in this situation, our players are no different than anybody else in the community,” Ryan said. “And that’s the way it should be. Those are things that everybody in the area has to deal with and our players aren’t exempt (from) that.”

Cro: Safety chemistry better now than '11

October, 17, 2012
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The Jets' defense took a big hit with the loss of Darrelle Revis, but Antonio Cromartie still loves the chemisty, especially in the secondary. Cromartie spoke candidly Wednesday, saying the current secondary is a closer unit than a year ago.

"I don't think we had that much trust in each other, because we were flipping so much in and out -- Jim Leonhard, Brodney Pool, Eric Smith," Cromartie said, referring to the 2011 safety troika. "Now we have a steady group. It makes things a whole lot easier."

Interesting remarks, for sure, because the now-departed Leonhard always was considered the glue to the group.

"One of the things last year that beat us was we were never on the same page on the back end," Cromartie said. "Even with Darrelle in the secondary, we never communicated the right way. I think we're doing a better job this year of communicating than the past two years.

Sources: Powell has dislocated shoulder

October, 14, 2012
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Jets will be down one, possibly two running backs next Sunday when they face the Patriots.

Backup RB Bilal Powell, also their third-down back, suffered a dislocated shoulder in the third quarter of Sunday's 35-9 win over the Colts, according to league sources. Powell, who will have an MRI exam Monday, will miss at least one game.

Two plays after Powell's injury, third-string RB Joe McKnight left with an ankle injury. It occurred on his 61-yard run, the Jets' longest run in three years. McKnight's status for next week was unclear after the game.

[+] EnlargeBilal Powell
AP Photo/Seth WenigBilal Powell
Right now, the only healthy backs are Shonn Greene and rookie Jonathan Grimes, whom they recently acquired on waivers.

PICK SIX TIMES TWO -- NOT: Antonio Cromartie almost had two interception returns for touchdowns -- well, sort of almost.

Cromartie intercepted QB Andrew Luck at the Colts' 33 and returned it for a touchdown, but it was called back because LB Aaron Maybin was flagged for a personal foul on the return. Maybin made a "great block" on Luck, according to Rex Ryan, but Maybin was guilty of extracurricular activity.

"You can't give him the business after the play," Ryan said.

In the second quarter, Cromartie stepped in front of a pass for Reggie Wayne and returned it 76 yards, but the touchdown was nullified because of pass interference.

"They say I grabbed him," Cromartie said. "As I looked at it on the JumboTron, I did kind of pull him."

Ryan was livid and argued the call. Afterward, he acknowledged that he "might disagree a little bit" with that call. Cromartie finished with three penalties, but he also held Wayne to three catches for 32 yards (he had two catches that weren't on Cromartie).

"There's a fine line," Ryan said. "You have to stay aggressive, and I thought Cro did. He was penalized, but when you're going against a great player like Reggie Wayne, I thought it was great competition out there."

HAPPY RETURNS: TE Dustin Keller returned from a four-week hamstring injury, rookie WR Stephen Hill from a two-week hamstring injury. Hill made a bigger impact in the passing game than Keller, catching a 5-yard TD pass.

Hill ran an in-cut in the back of the end zone, but he stopped short and broke his route back to the outside. S Tom Zbikowski had terrific coverage, but QB Mark Sanchez found a tight window.

"It was weird because once we saw how the defense was playing, some way, somehow, me and Mark just got on the same page just that quick," said Hall, who hadn't caught a pass since Week 1. "It was a planned route, but where he threw it wasn't planned. But it was just like we knew. We just knew."

Keller was used mostly as a blocker. He was targeted only once -- a 6-yard reception. He reported no problems with his hamstring.

ODDS AND ENDS: The Jets went turnover-free for the first time in 17 games. ... Ex-Colts DT Daniel Muir made his Jets debut and recorded a tackle. ... Rookie S Antonio Allen, signed Friday off the practice squad, made his NFL debut and recorded a sack. ... The Jets rushed for 252 yards, their most since the 2010 season finale, when they ran for 276 against the Bills. It was the eighth 200-yard day under Ryan. ... The offense went 5-for-5 in the red zone. ... CB Ellis Lankster recorded the first interception of his career.

Rapid Reaction: Jets 35, Colts 9

October, 14, 2012
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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
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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
10/11/12
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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
10/11/12
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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
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Some of the good and bad performances from Monday night's 23-17 loss to the Texans:

THREE UP

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.

THREE DOWN

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
10/08/12
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A playing-time breakdown for every player on defense through the first four games (284 snaps):

DEFENSIVE LINE

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

LINEBACKER

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

SECONDARY

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
10/07/12
5:38
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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
10/06/12
8:00
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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?

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