Coach's Big Decision: How to use Cro

October, 20, 2012
10/20/12
10:36
AM ET
Antonio Cromartie has developed into a weapon for the Jets, a three-way player capable of making an impact on offense, defense and special teams. They need all the help they can get against the Patriots, so it would be wise to take a “Make them eat Cro” approach, using him as much as possible.

On defense, Cromartie probably will see a lot of deep threat Brandon Lloyd, but they might want to use him on athletic TE Aaron Hernandez. Cromartie has covered pass-catching tight ends in the past, including Hernandez.

What about putting him on Wes Welker? Not a good idea. Unlike Darrelle Revis, who had the ability to cover Welker in the slot, Cromartie’s body type and skill set make him ill-equipped to handle the small, ultra-quick Welker. Cromartie isn’t great against shifty receivers that work the underneath routes. He tends to grab, resulting in penalty flags. (See three penalties last week against the Colts’ Reggie Wayne.)

With Joe McKnight (ankle) listed as a game-time decision, Cromartie could also be used as the kickoff returner. It’s always risky, using one of your best players on special teams, so maybe Rex Ryan will make him a situational returner -- meaning they’d turn to him if they absolutely need instant field position.

It wouldn’t be a shock to see Cromartie on offense, too. After all, he has played six snaps at receiver in the last two games. In a game like this, with the Jets a heavy underdog, Ryan needs to pull out all the stops. If the Jets think Cromartie can strike for a big play against the Patriots, make them eat Cro.

Rich Cimini

ESPN New York Jets reporter

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