New York Jets: Josh Cribbs

Jets draft preview: Special teams

May, 3, 2014
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This is the sixth installment in a position-by-position analysis of the New York Jets as they prepare for the draft:

Position: Special teams.

Current personnel: PK Nick Folk (signed through 2017), P Ryan Quigley (2005), LS Tanner Purdum (2014), KR Jacoby Ford (2014), PR Jeremy Kerley (2014), PR Kyle Wilson (2014), KR Clyde Gates (2014).

Newcomers: Ford (Oakland Raiders).

Departures: KR Josh Cribbs (free agent), KR Antonio Cromartie (cut/Arizona Cardinals), KR Darius Reynaud (free agent).

Top salary-cap charge: Folk, $3.6 million.

Scouting report: It's a mixed bag. The Jets were happy to retain Folk, who signed a four-year, $12 million contract, but there are concerns for new special-teams coordinator Thomas McGaughey. The once-formidable unit needs an upgrade in a few areas, a sentiment shared by former STC Mike Westhoff, who criticized the talent level at the end of last season. "The personnel is limited -- and I'm being kind," he said.

Coverage and return units are populated by players in the bottom third of the roster, and the bottom third has eroded over the years. This offseason, they lost their third-leading tackler, Isaiah Trufant (Cleveland Browns), who served as a gunner and played 233 snaps on special teams. They finished in the middle of the pack (17th) in overall performance, according to a formula used by ESPN Stats & Information, but it should be higher. The addition of Ford, who scored on three kickoffs in 2010 for the Raiders, should bring some sizzle -- if he's healthy. McGaughey said he'd like to import competition for Ford. He also said his No. 1 objective is to improve the punt coverage.

Potential targets: The Jets need more run-and-hit athletes. With 12 draft picks, including nine in Rounds 4-7, they have plenty of ammo. By the time they get done drafting and signing college free agents, they'll be stocked up on receivers, tight ends, linebackers and defensive backs. Remember these names: Kadron Boone and James Wright, former LSU receivers. They won't be drafted, but they were two of McGaughey's top special-teamers at LSU. The draft's top returners are Dri Archer (Kent State) and De'Anthony Thomas (Oregon), both running backs. They're small, but fast. Wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (LSU) also has exciting return ability.

Need rating (scale 1 to 10): 6.

Stat check: No sizzle on special teams

January, 9, 2014
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For the first time since 2001, the New York Jets didn't return a punt or kickoff for a touchdown. The special teams lacked explosiveness under first-year coordinator Ben Kotwica, who replaced the venerable Mike Westhoff.

There was a decline in production for the punt- and kickoff-return units, perhaps because they cut top kickoff returner Joe McKnight in the preseason. Things started to perk up with Josh Cribbs around midseason, but they fell off again when he suffered a season-ending pectoral injury. Because of the growing pains on offense, the Jets needed a better return unit to shorten the field, but that didn't happen.

The bright spot was Nick Folk, who improved by 13 percentage points in field goal accuracy. Here's the breakdown of 2013:

Punt-return average

Final '13 ranking: 16th (9.0 yards)

Final '12 ranking: 12th (10.3 yards)

Kickoff-return average

Final '13 ranking: 18th (22.7 yards)

Final '12 ranking: 6th (26.2 yards)

Field goals made

Final '13 ranking: 10th, tie (91.2 percent)

Final '12 ranking: 27th (77.8 percent)

Net punting average

Final '13 ranking: 27th (38.1 yards)

Final '12 ranking: 20th (37.6 yards)

Punt-return average allowed

Final '13 ranking: 27th (11.3 yards)

Final '12 ranking: 27th (12.1 yards)

Kickoff-return average allowed

Final '13 ranking: 11th (22.3 yards)

Final '12 ranking: 5th (21.9 yards)

Injury notes: Goodson's rehab on track

December, 30, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mike Goodson was one of the highly touted free agent signings after New York Jets general manager John Idzik took the job, but a late-night arrest for marijuana, an illegal gun and illegal ammunition charge took the running back off the field for a four-game suspension.

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Goodson
When Goodson did play -- he had 7 carries for 61 yards in the two games he played -- he looked good, but an MCL and ACL injury took him off the field for the rest of the season. On Monday, Goodson was in the locker room in the middle of a projected five-month recovery, following surgery he had prior to the Jets' bye week.

“It was real frustrating,” Goodson said. "Starting off with those two games and they said they wanted to work me in slow. And when I was working in slow I was making plays. I felt myself coming along strong and then the injury. It’s discouraging and encouraging because I know what I can do. I’m going to rehab my knee, it’s feeling stronger and stronger every day, so just come back next year man, I’ll be ready.”

Goodson said he will stay in the area during the offseason in order to continue to rehab with team trainers. He is on a three-year, $6.9 million deal with the Jets, but has been indicted on the weapons charges and could face a trial in the coming year. If convicted, Goodson could be sentenced for 10 years.

He declines to talk about the legal issue, but said it wasn’t part of the consideration for staying in the area. Goodson said the Jets were encouraged by what he did on the field.

“They said they liked what they saw,” Goodson said.

Goodson wasn’t the only injured player to discuss his future on the last day of the season.

Winslow
WINSLOW WANTS BACK: Jets TE Kellen Winslow Jr. said he hasn’t discussed a new deal with the Jets yet, but would want to return and play for the team. Winslow said he felt the team managed a persistent knee injury well during the season, giving him a day off from practice once each week.

“I can play 16, it’s just all about getting to the game,” Winslow said.

Winslow, drafted in 2004, had 31 catches for 388 yards this season. He know his knee could make another season.

CRIBBS NOTES: Josh Cribbs, the KR/RB the Jets signed after the season started, had surgery immediately after he suffered a pectoral injury in December. There is a 4-5 month recovery window on the injury.

“I hurt it on a Sunday, I had surgery that Friday,” Cribbs said.

Cribbs
Cribbs, the former longtime Cleveland Brown, also weighed in on Rob Chudzinski's firing earlier in the day.

"I thought he'd have more of a chance to put his niche on things, because that wasn't his team,” Cribbs said. “Those weren't the guys he drafted. I would've liked to have seen that regime play out."

DESTROYER PACKAGE: Sheldon Richardson said the Jets have a name for the offensive formation they used yesterday -- the "Destroyer Package." It consisted of three defensive linemen in the backfield -- Richardson, Damon Harrison and Kenrick Ellis. Sheldon: "That's a cool 1,000 pounds." Richardson got the handoff and ran for 1 yard.

Richardson also said DL coach Karl Dunbar, who has an expiring contract, should stay: "I don't think we're going to lose him."

OPEN GATES: Clyde Gates, who had shoulder surgery after an October injury, said he hopes to be back next season. He is under contract, but had an issue with drops during a 24-catch, 122-yard season.

THIS AND THAT: RB Chris Ivory has a hip pointer after sustaining the injury in the win over Miami. …WR Stephen Hill said there is no surgery planned on his injured knee, and he said trainers are trying to set up a rehab program that will strengthen it.

Injury Report: Santonio Holmes isn't peachy

December, 4, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Santonio Holmes, wearing red glare-reducing contact lenses, said that the hamstring injury he aggravated last week in practice had improved by Wednesday, when he was limited in practice. Holmes played just a few snaps with the offense against the Miami Dolphins and missed two practices last week.

“Making strides, making really good strides,” Holmes said. “Today was an even better practice and I look forward to steadily making progress throughout the rest of this week.”

Still, with just four games left, the season has nearly passed Holmes by. The Jets receiver played the first four games, but then missed five straight and has played only sparingly in the last two. After missing all last season with a Lisfranc injury, he has just 13 catches for 326 yards this year.

“The season it is what it is what it is right now,” Holmes said. “We all wish for peaches and creams every day and having Christmas every day around here but we have to deal what we have right now and that’s right now an up and down season, and we have to finish out these last four games on a good roll.”

Holmes, who misses Thursday practices to keep his work load low, has almost achieved special guest status in games and practices. Wide receiver Stephen Hill said he doesn’t notice when Holmes isn’t able to practice.

“Sometimes you really don’t notice it,” Hill said. “I’m not saying that Tone is not a threat, It’s just we have so many reps in practice where just in case he’s not in, we’ve got people who take his reps. So we’re just making sure we’re all on the same page with that so we’re communicating on and off the field just in case he’s not there.”

KERLEY CLOSING IN: Jets WR Jeremy Kerley practiced on Wednesday and appears to be getting closer to return after an elbow injury that has kept him out of three games. “All I can do is try to get myself healthy,” Kerley said.

CRIBBS TORE PECTORAL: KR/RB Josh Cribbs tore his pectoral muscle during the Miami game, which is why he was put on IR this week. Newly signed KR Darius Reynaud was in the locker room Wednesday and said he’s only been told he’ll work special teams this week. Cribbs expanded that role to the offense quickly.

JETS

Did not practice: TE Kellen Winslow (knee).
Limited: CB Antonio Cromartie (hip), WR Santonio Holmes (foot, hamstring), WR Jeremy Kerley (elbow), DE Muhammad Wilkerson (wrist).
Full: G Willie Colon (calf), DT Kenrick Ellis (back), WR Stephen Hill (knee), RB Chris Ivory (ankle), C Nick Mangold (wrist), LB Garrett McIntyre (knee), CB Dee Milliner (wrist), WR Greg Salas (finger), QB Geno Smith (right wrist).

RAIDERS

Did not practice: G Mike Brisiel (ankle, knee), LB Kaluka Maiava (ribs, calf), RB Darren McFadden (ankle), WR Denarius Moore (shoulder), RB Jeremy Stewart (ankle, knee), S Usama Young (neck)
Limited: S Tyvon Branch (ankle), LB Miles Burris (toe), DE Jason Hunter (foot), RB Rashad Jennings (concussion), T Menelik Watson (illness).

Green Day: Chilly start for rookie Winters

December, 4, 2013
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The New York Jets have a Geno Smith situation unfolding at left guard.

If you haven't noticed, rookie Brian Winters is struggling, really struggling. Even though he has started only eight games, Winters tops all guards in the NFL with nine sacks allowed, according to ProFootballFocus.com. For an interior lineman, nine sacks is the equivalent of 19 interceptions for a quarterback, but at least Smith can say he's played every game.

If Rex Ryan wants to do what's in the best interest of the team, as he always says, he'd bench Winters -- if, in fact, he has that power. Look, we know Vladimir Ducasse isn't the second coming of Larry Allen, but he would be an upgrade at the position. For those keeping track, he allowed two sacks in four games before being benched in favor of Winters.

We know why Ducasse isn't playing: He's in the final year of his contract and he'll be playing elsewhere next season. Winters was John Idzik's third-round pick, and the first-year general manager is calling the shots here, folks. Winters is part of the future, so Idzik wants him on the field even if he's hurting the present. Similar politics are playing out at the quarterback position, where Smith has done nothing over the last few weeks to justify his starting role.

Idzik preaches competition, but the playing field isn't always level.

ICYMI: As expected, the Jets placed KR Josh Cribbs (shoulder) on season-ending injured reserve. To replace him, the Jets signed return specialist Darius Reynaud, most recently of the Tennessee Titans. They killed two birds with one signing, as Reynaud can return punts and kickoffs. ... The Jets worked out several players Tuesday, including Reynaud and CB DeQuan Menzie (Detroit Lions, Kansas City Chiefs). ... The Jets dropped only one spot in the ESPN.com Power Rankings, slipping to No. 23. ... Our film review of the Jets' nightmare loss to the Miami Dolphins. Warning: Contains graphic descriptions of botched plays; for mature audiences only.

Green Day: (Ed) Reed it and weep

December, 3, 2013
12/03/13
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- I'm on record as saying Ed Reed was a good signing for the New York Jets. I was wrong. More importantly, so were the Jets.

The future Hall of Famer has made zero impact in three games. Truth be told, Reed could be hurting the defense. He was directly involved in the longest pass play in each of the last two games, misplaying the ball on Joe Flacco's 66-yard touchdown bomb in Baltimore and missing a tackle on Brian Hartline's 31-yard catch and run Sunday against the Miami Dolphins.

Coach Rex Ryan sounded so convincing the day he introduced Reed, challenging opponents to throw it deep on the Jets' beleaguered secondary. With Reed at safety, they've allowed six touchdown passes, all longer than 26 yards. It's not like they've faced a Murderer's Row of quarterbacks; they got torched by the Dolphins' Ryan Tannehill and the Buffalo Bills' EJ Manuel.

Ryan, loyal to a fault, believes Reed can do no wrong, quickly dismissing the notion of cutting the safety's playing time.

"He's going to be starting unless he's injured," said Ryan, who coached Reed during their years together in Baltimore. "I think Ed gives us the best shot."

Reed, 35, looked old and slow on the Hartline play. Then again, he is old and slow.

"If you look at it from a statistical standpoint, I can understand the question," Ryan said. "We all saw him miss the tackle on Hartline's touchdown. But Ed did his job, I don't think there's any doubt."

Does that mean Tannehill would've thrown for 400 yards instead of 331 if it weren't for Reed patrolling the deep middle?

I didn't think Reed would be an every-down player when they signed him, but he has played 87 percent of the defensive snaps in three games, reducing safety Antonio Allen to an afterthought. Ryan said he wanted to play Allen more than nine snaps against the Dolphins, but he claimed they had to alter their game plan. What Ryan should do is create a platoon system with Reed and Allen, but that will never happen.

Reed is an all-time great, but he's like Willie Mays on the 1973 New York Mets. You appreciate and respect what they've done, but it's sad when we see what they can no longer do.

ICYMI: Despite a horrendous slump, Geno Smith remains the Jets' starting quarterback. His passer rating for the last three games is 40.7 -- that's combined, not an average. Peyton Manning over the same span -- 282.7 ... Matt Simms supports the quarterback decision: "Geno is the man." Simms is just happy to have a job. ... KR Josh Cribbs suffered an apparent season-ending injury to his shoulder/pectoral area. This is a tough blow for the Jets. Cribbs sparked the kickoff-return unit, returned punts and played in the Wildcat package. Antonio Cromartie did a nice job on kickoffs Sunday, averaging 31.5 yards, but he's their top cornerback and the risk is too great to play him on special teams. They might have to sign a kickoff returner.

Rex: Cribbs injury is 'pretty serious'

December, 2, 2013
12/02/13
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan believes receiver/returner Josh Cribbs suffered a "pretty bad" injury in Sunday's 23-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins, which could signal Cribbs' season is over.

Cribbs left Sunday's game in the second quarter and was in a sling afterward. It's believed he injured his right shoulder/pectoral area, although the Jets did not provide specifics Monday.

"I think it's pretty bad," Ryan said. "I think it's pretty serious."

Cribbs' last play came a little more than midway through the second quarter when the Jets punted to end their second drive. Cribbs played just one offensive snap. It was announced he left with a shoulder injury.

With Cribbs out, the Jets used Antonio Cromartie to return kickoffs, and Kyle Wilson for punts. Cromartie averaged 31.5 yards per return, but using him going forward is not ideal since he plays an important position and returning kicks exposes him to more hits.

Of all the active players that have returned kicks for the Jets this year, Jeremy Kerley, who is currently sidelined with an elbow injury, is the only realistic choice of the group to possibly take over as the returner.

"We'll take a look at our options," Ryan said. "Certainly Cro did a tremendous job back there but he is our best corner. We'll take a look at our options."

Cribbs is averaging 24.5 yards on kickoff returns, while he he's returned eight punts for a total of 96 yards. He's caught two passes for six yards, and has rushed 13 times for 55 yards. He's also completed 2 of 3 passes for 38 yards out of the Wildcat package.

Jets offense suffers 'brown' out

December, 2, 2013
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FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- The NFL is a scoring league, so it's unusual when a team is held to a field goal. When it happens in back-to-back weeks -- see the New York Jets -- it qualifies as a rarity.

You have to go back five years to find a team that was limited to three or fewer points in consecutive games. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the last team to do it was the 2008 Cleveland Browns, who lost 14-0 and 31-0 in the final two games.

The Jets have a few connections to that Cleveland team, whose roster included kick returner Josh Cribbs and tight end Kellen Winslow, who was injured and didn't play in the final two games. The Browns, hurting at quarterback, used Bruce Gradkowski and Ken Dorsey. The team finished 4-12.

Coach Romeo Crennel and general manager Phil Savage were fired immediately after the season.

Josh Cribbs leaves in sling

December, 1, 2013
12/01/13
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Jets wide receiver/kick returner Josh Cribbs left Sunday's game with a right shoulder injury and had his arm in a sling following the 23-3 loss to the Dolphins at MetLife Stadium.

The Jets announced in the second quarter that Cribbs had left the game, and he did not return any kicks or run the ball out of the Wildcat during his brief playing time.

Antonio Cromartie handled kickoffs with Cribbs sidelined, while Kyle Wilson returned punts. Cromartie had a nice day averaging 31.5 yards on his four returns.

During a game in which the Jets benched starting quarterback Geno Smith, the loss of Cribbs meant the Jets were without an emergency quarterback.

PAIR GET X-RAYS: Muhammad Wilkerson got an X-ray after the game. He said he was fine. Wilkerson has been dealing with a wrist injury although it didn't prevent him from playing Sunday.

Wide receiver Greg Salas also went for an X-ray, and he too said he was fine. He didn't say where he had the X-ray taken. Salas had one catch for no yards and was targeted four times.

HOLMES AND CRO PLAY: Game-time decisions Antonio Cromartie and Santonio Holmes both played, although in varying degrees.

Cromartie (hip) played the majority of the snaps and said it was the best he has felt and he had confidence in his hip. Cromartie got beat for a touchdown on a slant route.

Holmes (hamstring) played just three snaps and said afterward it was a "coach's decision." He did not register a catch and wasn't targeted.

Notes: Jets conjure up Alosi memories

November, 24, 2013
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BALTIMORE -- Three years removed from one of the most embarrassing plays in franchise history, the New York Jets triggered unpleasant memories Sunday with an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on their sideline.

It happened on Jacoby Jones' 37-yard punt return in the third quarter of the Jets' 19-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Jones reversed field and ran up the Jets' sideline. During the run-back, the Jets' Troy Davis was blindsided by Courtney Upshaw, a crushing block that drew a gasp from the crowd at M&T Bank Stadium. An unidentified Jets assistant coach, perhaps protesting the legality of the block, erupted and got too close to the sideline.

The Jets' bench was penalized for interfering with officials. At least they didn't try to trip any opponents players. Former Jets strength coach Sal Alosi infamously tripped a Miami Dolphins player in 2010, fueling national headlines. Ultimately, Alosi resigned under pressure.

Soon after Sunday's penalty, CBS went into the archives, showing a replay of the Alosi debacle.

"He's on the white (boundary) -- it's not like was on the field -- but I know it's a point of emphasis to be off that area," Rex Ryan said. "It wasn't intentional, and you get caught up in the moment. We saw one of our players get hit. Those things happen. It's unfortunate. We're not the only team (that it's happened to). At that time, I was expecting a different call."

Meaning a penalty on Upshaw. Davis suffered a chest injury and didn't return to the game. Ryan, caught on camera, seemed incredulous by the call, mouthing what appeared to be an expletive.

Mo better than the rest: One of the bright spots for the Jets was DE Muhammad Wilkerson, who recorded two of the four sacks. He has 10 sacks, the most by a Jets player since John Abraham recorded 10.5 in 2005. Wilkerson is on a roll, with seven in his last seven games. He also was flagged for roughing the passer, tackling Joe Flacco beneath the knees -- a hit that could result in a fine.

Razzle dazzle: One of the Jets' best plays (there weren't many to choose from) was a 13-yard pass from Josh Cribbs to QB Geno Smith out of the Wildcat. It was the first reception of Smith's career, becoming the first Jets quarterback to catch a pass since Ken O'Brien made a 27-yard reception from Al Toon in 1991.

Suspect pass pro: Geno Smith was sacked three times and under heavy pressure, especially in the first half, but the pass protection was "decent," according to Ryan. He seemed more upset with the receivers, lamenting dropped passes. Unofficially, there were two drops -- Santonio Holmes and David Nelson.

The invisi-Hill receiver: WR Stephen Hill was held without a catch for the third straight game. Ryan had threatened to demote the slumping Hill, but he was in the starting lineup. His snaps, however, was reduced.

Injury report: CB Antonio Cromartie left late in the game with a non-contact hip injury. He has been bothered by a hip ailment for much of the season, but he described this as worse than the previous injuries. RB Chris Ivory sprained ankle on his first carry of the game and will go for an MRI exam. He stayed in the game, which is always a good sign.

Halftime Report: Ravens 9, Jets 3

November, 24, 2013
11/24/13
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BALTIMORE -- In the freezing cold -- it felt like 22 degrees in Baltimore at the start of the game with the windchill -- the Ravens have a 9-3 lead against the New York Jets in a field-goal fest.

The Jets have held running back Ray Rice to 16 yards on 8 carries, but have allowed 168 passing yards to the Ravens. The Ravens have 212 yards of total offense compared to 73 yards for the Jets.

WILDCAT SETS TONE: In the first two series, the Jets snapped the ball seven times to Geno Smith and four times to Josh Cribbs. Cribbs actually threw a 15-yard pass to Smith. The Jets employed a lot of Cribbs in the wildcat in a win against the Saints this season. Notably, he didn’t take a single direct snap in the second half of that game.

SECONDARY ISSUES: Ed Reed was able to break up a pass in the end zone, a 12-yard pass intended for Jacoby Jones. There was contact on the play and a flag was thrown in the end zone, but after the refs conferred, the flag was picked up and Reed was credited with pass defensed.

Antonio Cromartie picked up an interception in the second quarter, but he also gave up a 60-yard pass to Torrey Smith. There were two dropped interceptions by the Jets, one from Dee Milliner and another from Antonio Allen.

HOLMES, HILL, NELSON? The top three Jets receivers of the first half are, in order, Greg Salas, Geno Smith and Bilal Powell. The Jets main wide receivers all but disappeared in the first half.

Two-minute drill: Josh Cribbs

November, 23, 2013
11/23/13
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Our weekly Q & A is with Josh Cribbs, one of the most prolific kick returners in NFL history. The former longtime Cleveland Brown has more than 12,000 return yards and 20 total touchdowns. At Kent State, he played quarterback and passed for more than 7,000 yards.

You'll be remembered as one of the best kick returners in history. How does that make you feel?

[+] EnlargeJosh Cribbs
Bill Kostroun/AP PhotoVeteran Josh Cribbs has continued to be a solid kick returner and wide receiver in four games played for the New York Jets this season.
JC: It's humbling, it really is. I had that goal in mind. I wanted to emulate Brian Mitchell, him being a college quarterback as well. Actually, my coach I came in with was Jerry Rosburg, who coaches for Baltimore now. His standard was high. Looking back on my accolades, and looking at what I have now, it's about production and the upgrade. I feel like since I've been here our return game has improved. The production is up. We moved from 24th to 14th. My goal is to keep climbing every week, to bust a return and get to the 40 every return. It's all about production. Even in my latter years, I can still produce.

Do you ever wonder how your career might have turned out if you had remained a quarterback?

JC: I'm not sure. Everything happens for a reason. I don't think the league was ready for my style of play. It's the style now. If I was coming out now, I'd be highly sought after. I think I could've made it as a quarterback, but when I worked out for the Browns before the (2005) draft, they told me I'd pretty much make the team if I switched positions. I wanted to be in the league, so I did.

Who has been the most influential person on your career?

JC: I'd say my wife, Maria. When I first got in (football), I was a quarterback and the quarterback is the head of the team. I really didn't get into too much trouble in college. I didn't get yelled at. When I came into the league with the Browns, I was getting yelled at and cussed out. I was like, 'Man, this NFL thing ain't for me.' I don't cuss people out, that's not me. There was a time in camp when I called my wife and I called my mom. I said, 'You know what? I don't think this is the direction I want my life to go.' My wife was the one who said, 'Baby, you've been doing this since before I met you. Your life led up to this for a purpose and you're going to stay the course.' I wanted to leave camp, it was terrible, my rookie season. My wife has been that driving force, even when I went out to Oakland for a short time and I was hurting. I wasn't quite healthy and she was massaging my feet, pressing me on.

You're 30 years old and you've played nine years. How long do you want to do this?

JC: I always said I'd play until the wheels fall off. They haven't quite fallen off. The screws are loose, but they never fell off. On game day, I light up. I still have a passion to go down there and still make the tackles. I'm smart in the game, so I don't have to be out of control when I run. I know where the holes should be, so that's why my production still is solid. I'm smart when I play. I still take a lot of hits. It's unfortunate, but I love this sport. I love getting hit. It's a powerful game. Like the last game, we're losing and everybody is looking down. I'm like, 'No, I love this. This is what football is all about.'

There were concerns about your surgically repaired knee in the offseason. How is it now?

JC: Some teams (in the offseason) were worried about my knee. I'm like, 'Look, I've played through so much pain.' It was like this last year, and I played through it and I made the Pro Bowl. It was hurting. When I was in the Pro Bowl, it hurt, but I played. I didn't come all the way to Hawaii not to play. I told all the teams I worked out for, 'Look, I've played in pain.' I didn't miss any games last year. That's what I boast -- durability. I boast durability. My 80 percent is better than some guys at 100. The injury rate in the NFL is 100 percent, but you play through it. If I can still move my leg up and down, I'm out there.

Cribbs faces familiar opponent

November, 22, 2013
11/22/13
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For Josh Cribbs, who joined the New York Jets just last month, one of the most familiar faces on the field Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium will be on the opposing team.

Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Dean Pees and Cribbs will be reunited after spending time together at Kent University as player and head coach. They might be on opposite sidelines and in different roles now, but they’re both well aware of each other’s abilities.

Cribbs
“He was like a second father for me in college,” Cribbs said. “I have so much respect for him, so I’m going to be on my game. I’m going to make sure I don’t let him down. I’m going to make sure that all his preparation will pay off, that they’re going to get what they expect to get and even more.”

As Baltimore’s defensive coordinator, Pees said he will account for the threat Cribbs adds to the Jets’ Wildcat.

Cribbs has not only distinguished himself as a kick returner and a wide receiver, but he's shown a skill set at the quarterback position. As a pivotal part of Marty Mornhinweg’s first-half game plan in the Jets' 26-20 victory against the Saints in Week 9, Cribbs took a few direct snaps and connected with tight end Zach Sudfeld for a 25-yard pass out of the Wildcat.

“You can defend it, but it also depends on the guy who is running the trigger,” Pees told the Baltimore Sun.

“Because I ran that in college and Josh Cribbs was my quarterback and I told him, ‘Don’t read anything. That guy cannot tackle you. Just pull it.’ The better the athlete is at quarterback … You can run zone-read with Peyton Manning and I don’t think it’s going to look like how it does with [Jets quarterback] Geno Smith. It isn’t so much the zone-read. A lot of times it’s the guy that’s running it.”

Pees has been burned before by the Wildcat. In 2008, while he was the Patriots’ defensive coordinator, Ronnie Brown and the Dolphins torched his defense in a 38-13 Week 3 defeat. He’s not willing to let that happen again -- especially not against Cribbs.

Cribbs said having an opposing team’s defense prepare for him is an honor. “It lets me know that I’m doing my job well to be recognized by the defense on another team, so that just amps me up more for game day."

After being let go by the Oakland Raiders earlier this season, Cribbs has been playing with something to prove.

“I came into the league with a chip on my shoulder, knowing that I was supposed to be drafted and that I'm supposed to be here,” said Cribbs. “Now I have that same chip on my shoulder in a different way. I’m still supposed to be here, I still got it and here’s why. I’m going to show it.”

Film review: Rex outsmarts Payton, Brees

November, 5, 2013
11/05/13
3:30
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One last look back at the New York Jets' 26-20 upset of the New Orleans Saints:

Rex outsmarts Payton: The game was billed as Ryan vs. Ryan, but it never was going to be Rex against Rob, the Saints' defensive coordinator. It was really a chess match between Rex and Saints coach Sean Payton, one of the brightest offensive minds in the game. The outcome: Checkmate, Ryan.

Drew Brees put up his fantasy numbers, throwing for 382 yards (the most against the Jets in the Ryan era), but he was rattled at key moments in the game. He was confused by the Jets' different looks, forcing him into rare mistakes -- taking two delay penalties and burning three timeouts in the first quarter. On the first timeout, he was befuddled by a 2-4-5 alignment. When he came out of the timeout, it was a 3-3-5 look by the Jets -- and a delay of game penalty.

This wasn't a blitz-heavy game plan by Ryan. In fact, the Jets sent five or more rushers on only 19 percent of Brees' 53 dropbacks, slightly below their average. They didn't have to blitz because Muhammad Wilkerson and Quinton Coples overmatched the Saints offensive line.

[+] EnlargeMuhammad Wilkerson
Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY SportsThe Jets' Muhammad Wilkerson was able to put steady pressure on Saints quarterback Drew Brees this past Sunday.
After watching the tape, I noticed a clever wrinkle: On some passing plays, the Jets used a defensive lineman in a spy-type role. Instead of rushing, a lineman peeled back and hovered around the line of scrimmage, reading Brees' eyes. Coples said afterward that the game plan was to obstruct the B gaps, meaning the guard-tackle gaps. In their scouting report, they noted how Brees -- listed generously at 6-foot -- liked to throw through the B gaps instead of the middle. I think the Jets used a defensive lineman as a roving shot blocker, hoping to deflect the ball or at least block his vision. This was a big point of emphasis in practice, as the coaches were constantly on the pass-rushers to get their arms up against the "5-foot-10 quarterback," as they referred to him.

On Brees' first of two interceptions, Coples was the rover, lurking behind a three-man rush. At the last second, he rushed, getting one of his long arms in Brees' face as he released the ball, which was intercepted by Demario Davis after an on-ball deflection by S Dawan Landry -- a great play all around. Other times, I saw NT Kenrick Ellis and DT Sheldon Richardson peeling back instead of rushing.

Two impressive sequences jumped out. In the third quarter, they sacked Brees on back-to-back plays. How often does that happen? Wilkerson split a double-team for the first sack. On the second, Brees tried a quick count, but he outsmarted himself because TE Jimmy Graham was isolated on LB Calvin Pace. Graham is a great receiver, but he doesn't do blocking. Pace beat him cleanly for a sack.

The second impressive sequence occurred at the end of the game. Brees had the ball at his 19, with 1:58 on the clock. He has made a career of game-winning drives. Not this time. He threw four straight incompletions, one uglier than the next. On first down, the Jets had one down lineman and five others standing at the line. It looked like a blitz, but it was a ruse because they rushed two and dropped nine, including Coples, who lurked in the spy role. CB Antonio Cromartie was a safety on this play, another wrinkle.

Overall, it was a brilliant game plan by Ryan.

The art of deception: Obviously, the Jets were committed to running the ball, hoping to exploit a defense that had allowed a league-high 4.8 yard per carry. Here is an amazing stat: QB Geno Smith passed for only one yard in the first quarter and none in the fourth.

Coordinator Marty Mornhinweg did a fantastic job of using the read-option to exploit the Saints' aggressive front seven, which tends to over-pursue. On Chris Ivory's 27-yard run in the first quarter, they used the read option out of the Pistol formation. OLB Parys Haralson, influenced by the option, over-ran the play, leaving a gaping hole for Ivory.

On Josh Cribbs' 25-yard pass in the second quarter, the Jets ran a triple-option type play out of the Wildcat. Cribbs took the direct snap, faked to Bilal Powell and sprinted right with a run-pass option. He threw a dart to TE Zach Sudfeld, the Jets' best pass of the day.

I loved the two touchdown runs at the end of the second quarter. It was a great set-up by Mornhinweg, who used virtual mirror-image plays to outfox the Saints. On Ivory's three-yard scoring run, they were in shotgun, with Ivory to Smith's left -- the strong side, along with the tight end (Sudfeld) and two receivers (Stephen Hill and David Nelson). They ran a weakside play, with Ivory blasting off right tackle, behind key blocks by RG Willie Colon and RT Austin Howard.

After Cromartie's interception, the Jets got the ball back in almost an identical situation -- ball at the 3. They used the same personnel package, except they flipped the formation. Ivory went to the right of Smith, along with two receivers (Nelson and Greg Salas). The Saints probably were thinking it was a run to the left. It sure looked like as they ran Ivory to the left on a play-action. LBs David Hawthorne and Curtis Lofton bit hard on the fake. Smith used the read-option. He pulled the ball out of Ivory's belly and kept it himself, putting a nice, open-field move on DE Cameron Jordan for the touchdown. Actually, Jordan read it well, but he was faked by Smith and had no back up because Hawthorne and Lofton were out of position.

The Jets finished with 198 rushing yards. Ivory got the headlines, but the coaches did a nice job of exploiting the weaknesses in the Saints' run defense.

Geno's signature moment: The play that had people buzzing at One Jets Drive was a 6-yard scramble by Smith at the start of the third quarter. It wasn't enough for a first down -- it was a third-and-10 play -- but it got them into field goal range, as Smith avoided a big loss.

DE Tom Johnson blew past LG Brian Winters and had a clean shot at Smith, who eluded him with a nifty step-back move. Smith took off and gained six valuable yards, allowing the Jets to take a 23-14 lead after the field goal.

Odds and ends: Winters made a key block in the second quarter, pulling to the right on Ivory's 52-yard yard. Winters got a piece of Lofton, who ended up missing the tackle in the hole. Sudfeld, not known for his blocking, delivered a key block as well. Hill, invisible in the passing game, made a nice downfield block. ... There was confusion on Graham's 51-yard TD reception. S Jaiquawn Jarrett raised both arms before the snap, as if to say, "What do I do?" He ended up getting torched on a double move. ... I have no idea what Ryan was thinking on the Jets' final possession. They got the ball on downs at the Saints' 9, with 1:21 to play. The Saints had one timeout left. Three kneel-downs and it was over, but the Jets ran two plays and called a timeout before having Smith take a knee. What was the point of risking a fumble? Made no sense.

Who are these guys in Jets uniforms?

November, 3, 2013
11/03/13
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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Santonio Holmes, Jeff Cumberland and Kellen Winslow didn't play, and Jeremy Kerley left in the second quarter with a potentially serious elbow injury. It left Geno Smith with a bunch of no-name guys: Greg Salas. Zach Sudfeld. David Nelson. Throw in part-time wide receiver Josh Cribbs, and you're talking about four guys who weren't on the New York Jets' roster at the start of the season.

[+] EnlargeZach Sudfeld
Al Bello/Getty ImagesZach Sudfeld caught two passes for 46 yards.
That's what you call a patchwork receiving corps. Those four players combined for seven of the Jets' nine receptions in the 26-20 upset of the New Orleans Saints Sunday at MetLife Stadium.

"I've seen veteran quarterbacks struggle with new faces and new pieces," Nelson said. "The fact that we have a rookie quarterback, four new guys lined up at the line of scrimmage and he's okay with it ... it says everything about who he is and what he can become."

Smith (8-for-19, 115 yards) struggled, but he didn't commit any turnovers and he was sacked only twice. He didn't win the game, but he didn't lose it, either. Still, it was impressive that the Jets were able to function with so many new parts. Salas, who made his Jets debut, became their 29th offensive player to see the field this season.

Rex Ryan credited offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg.

"I think it's clear that he should be the offensive assistant coach of the year," Ryan said, inventing an award. "That's obvious. The job that he and his staff have done is tremendous. They've found ways. He's not looking for excuses. 'Well, we don't have this, we don't have Holmes, we don't have this guy, we don't have Cumberland.' He just finds a way. Not one time did he ever flinch -- ever -- and we run the ball for 198 yards on 36 carries."

The Anonymous Four contributed in a variety of ways. Salas made a 44-yard reception. Sudfeld caught two passes for 46 yards. Cribbs caught two passes and, working out of the Wildcat, threw a 25-yard pass. Nelson caught a 19-yard pass.

The Jets signed Salas off the Philadelphia Eagles' practice squad. Sudfeld arrived on waivers from the New England Patriots. Cribbs and Nelson were unemployed.

"When you have guys come off the street, like myself, you have a lot to prove," Cribbs said. "When you have hungry guys that want to play, that's what you call playing like a Jet."

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