AFC East: Kyle Wilson

Cornerback crisis puts Rex on edge

March, 17, 2014
Mar 17
10:30
AM ET
The New York Jets' current cornerback crisis reminds me of an anecdote shared by former general manager Mike Tannenbaum. This was back in April 2010, when they had just used their first-round pick on cornerback Kyle Wilson. They already had Darrelle Revis and Antonio Cromartie, so there was some question about the wisdom of adding another corner.
Ryan
Tannenbaum recalled a conversation with Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome. When he hired Rex Ryan from the Ravens' staff in 2009, Tannenbaum asked Newsome what to expect.

"(Newsome) said, 'I'm shipping him up I-95, and he has a little sign around his neck that says, 'I need corners,'" Tannenbaum said at the time. "That's just who Rex is. He cannot have enough corners."

So it doesn't take a lot of imagination to understand how Ryan is feeling these days: He's freaking out.

The Jets cut Cromartie (an expected move), showed no interest in Revis when he became a free agent and haven't added any veteran corners. (Sorry, we're not counting San Diego Chargers castoff Johnny Patrick.) Their top corners, as we speak, are Dee Milliner, Wilson, Patrick and Darrin Walls.

Oh, boy.

Free agent Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie visited Saturday before heading over to the New York Giants for a sitdown. He's the best available corner in a thinned-out market. He's far from perfect (he was awful for the Philadelphia Eagles in 2012), but he's 28 years old, can play man-to-man and is coming off a good season with the Denver Broncos. He might not be a 10, but when an 8 hangs out with a bunch of 5s and 6s, he looks like a super hero. (Kind of reminds me of that funny nightclub scene in "Hall Pass," a very under-rated movie, if I must say.)

The ESPN free-agent tracker rates Rodgers-Cromartie, Dimitri Patterson (cut by the Miami Dolphins) and Carlos Rogers (cut by the San Francisco 49ers) as the best available corners. I'd add Cromartie to that list.

The tracker scouting reports:

Rodgers-Cromartie: "One of the best corners on the market, Rodgers-Cromartie was a solid starter on a unit that struggled in 2013. He has good size, and his length and ball skills allow him the chance to make a lot of plays. On film it looks like his pedal and turn are not always consistent, which is why he gets beaten deep too often, but he will show some good flashes in man coverage and can be effective in sub packages. He can be susceptible to double moves."

Patterson: "Patterson has very good ball skills and the route recognition to play man-to-man defense as a perimeter cornerback. Was productive when he played in 2013 but a groin injury limited him and eventually led to him being placed on injured reserve. Does not have great size or length but can be a short-term starting option for a defensive back-needy team."

Rogers: "A soon-to-be 33-year old who is now best suited to handle slot duties after several productive seasons with both Washington and then San Francisco. Rogers' injury issues have been concerning in recent seasons, and after a standout 2011, he's regressed in overall play. He has strong ball skills but lacks the burst to stick with wideouts on the perimeter."

Game recap: What we learned

August, 25, 2013
8/25/13
11:46
AM ET


Ten takeaways from the Jets' costly win over the Giants:

1. Geno Smith isn't ready: He made a lot of rookie mistakes in his first extended action, but guess what? He's a rookie. Smith saw a lot of things for the first time -- a six-man rush on his second interception and a defensive lineman in coverage on the third pick. The safety was inexcusable, just a mental lapse by a young player lost in the moment. Two things I noticed: He stared down receivers and held the ball too long. On the positive side, he completed his last six passes (five against the Giants' backups), showing the ability to drive the ball on intermediate routes.

2. Rex Ryan didn't trust his instincts: Yes, Ryan announced Thursday that Mark Sanchez would play in the game, but he should've altered the plan on the fly once he saw how the game unfolded. Because of Smith's struggles, it was clear that Sanchez would be the opening-day starter. Ryan shouldn't have played him unless it was behind the first-team line, not behind the likes of Caleb Schlauderaff and J.B. Shugarts. You have to wonder if Ryan was following orders from GM John Idzik.

3. Stephen Hill needs to grow up: He has a lot of talent inside that big body, but he tends to lose his cool. He took a swing at LB Jacquian Williams, resulting in a personal foul, and he lost a fumble a couple of plays later, failing to secure the ball. That he was in the game was another mistake by Ryan, who should've taught him a lesson by benching him after the dumb penalty.

4. They need Santonio Holmes more than ever: Aside from Hill's shenanigans, the Jets dropped three passes, shades of the daily drop-fests in minicamp. The best receiver was rookie free agent Ryan Spadola, who caught three passes for 110 yards. On the positive side, newly signed Mohamed Massaquoi got into the game and made two nice catches. If I'm Braylon Edwards, I'm worried about my roster spot. By the way, Holmes looked fine in pre-game warmups. You have to think he'll be ready for Week 1.

5. Perimeter run defense is still a concern: This was an issue last season, and it didn't look any better in this game -- see David Wilson's 84-yard TD run. Interestingly, the defense came out in a 4-3 look, with three linebackers stacked behind the line. It resembled the old Tampa-2 defense. The Jets seemed a bit confused by the Giants' twin-fullback look. LB Demario Davis got caught in traffic, S Antonio Allen blew his gap assignment, and CB Antonio Cromartie and LB Garrett McIntyre couldn't get off their blocks. In a heartbeat, Wilson was gone, too fast for anyone on the Jets' D.

6. The defense got mad: To its credit, the defense responded nicely after the Wilson TD. Despite bad field position, courtesy of Smith's three interceptions, the Jets held the Giants to three points on the next eight possessions, including a goal-line stand. They dominated the Giants' patchwork line, with DT Sheldon Richardson (one sack, two QB hits) and NT Damon Harrison (seven solo tackles) generating inside pressure. Richardson lined up in several different spots before leaving with an undisclosed injury. They have to be encouraged by their young linemen.

7. They miss Darrelle Revis: Kyle Wilson is entering his fourth year, yet he still makes the same mistakes he did as a rookie. He still lacks awareness when the ball is in the air. In this game, the result was three pass-interference penalties. This is why he was moved back to his nickel-back role as soon as rookie Dee Milliner reported to camp. Milliner didn't play because of an injury, but he hasn't lit it up. The Jets will be vulnerable against opponents with good No. 2 receivers.

8. Brian Winters really exists: The third-round guard, hampered by an ankle injury throughout camp, made his preseason debut. Winters replaced LG Vladimir Ducasse (leg injury) early in the game and ended up making a nice pulling block on Bilal Powell's two-yard TD run in the third quarter. Winters is the future at left guard. For now, it'll be Ducasse or Stephen Peterson, who played center with the second unit and allowed a sack.

9. Nick Folk keeps it interesting: Now we know why they keep importing competition for Folk. In overtime, he was wide right on a 39-yard FG attempt. A few minutes later, challenger Billy Cundiff won it with a 32-yarder. It looks like the kicking battle will last a little longer.

10. Mayday Malone responds: With his job in jeopardy, incumbent P Robert Malone had a fantastic game, putting all three punts inside the 20. Challenger Ryan Quigley, who had been having a solid camp, suffered a poor game. This could be over.

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