Addressing Secondary Concerns

Florham Park, N.J.-  That headline is one of those double entendre things people often use when they think they are more clever than they really are.

In this case, yes obviously, the article will address the concerns within the Jets secondary. Mainly Cromartie’s, and to a lesser extent Wilson’s, struggles during Monday’s game. However, there will also be a clear emphasis that these specific concerns are secondary concerns, at best, compared to the other problems the team has to address after that slop filled game they played less then 48 hours ago.

Jets S Jim Leonhard and CB Darrelle Revis (JetsInsider.com Photo)

After watching Boldin take turns repeatedly beating Cromartie and Wilson (or not beating them but getting bailed about by penalties, some warranted, one very questionable) many people were left scratching their head wondering why Revis wasn’t following Boldin’s every move around the field.

Rex Ryan has been extremely adamant that the pressure and blame should fall on him if the Jets don’t live up to their own standards and he wasted no time placing the blame for this mistake directly on his shoulders.

When questioned about Revis’ play Ryan said, “I thought he looked outstanding. It was my decision to keep him on the defensive left side because I thought we could save some running for him going back and forth. I wanted to take that away from him because he only had the week of practice. I just wanted to put him on the left and we put Cro on the right. Hindsight being what it is, we probably should have matched him on (Anquan) Boldin. At the time, I felt it would be better for Darrelle that we just keep him in one spot where he wouldn’t have to travel. We did that last year (in) some games. We’d have a right corner and left corner. Obviously, (with) the day that Boldin had, it’s probably easy to go back and question that.”

Of course because of that hindsight everyone has that proverbial 20/20 vision, still this doesn’t seem like a completely honest explanation from Ryan. It is somewhat understandable that they would be careful not to ask too much of Revis, but this defense is based off of moving players, especially Revis, all over the field.

To say he only felt comfortable with Revis staying on one side of the field seems like Ryan could have another reason, for limiting his coverage options, one he doesn’t want to come out and say.

It would appear Ryan and the other Jet coaches underestimated the Ravens ability to hurt them down field, especially underestimating the damage Boldin could do. Hearing these words from Ryan combined with the fact that no adjustment was made during the game, also makes it seem like Ryan might of overestimated Cromartie’s ability to handle Boldin.

This is not to say Cromartie won’t bounce back and work his way comfortably into the grove of this defense, but it is to say (with that 20/20 hindsight of course) that he wasn’t ready to take on the responsibility of covering Boldin in his first meaningful game as a part of this defense. After all this is a new and complex defensive scheme to him, and things are required of him that he is not used. In San Diego he didn’t bump and pressure receivers as much at the line, here that’s a prerequisite to earn a spot at cornerback.

During yesterday’s press conference Ryan addressed Cromartie’s performance in his opening statement. Ryan said, “I’ve got to get across to (Antonio) Cromartie that our style of play is we’re going to be aggressive and we’re going to play a lot of man coverage and his athleticism is where, if he gets his hands on the receiver, he can be a shut-down guy as well as anybody in this league.  We’ve got to get him to play a little more physical at the line of scrimmage and trust his athleticism.”

Ryan continued saying, ” I think some of the things he got into problems with yesterday were that he’s trying to grab because the guy separates when his athleticism is going (to allow him) to catch up to somebody.  That’s a thing were going to dial in and that’s something I’m going to talk to Cro about.  The kid’s got phenomenal ability and I think he’s going to be an outstanding player for us.  You’ve just got to understand that (with) this style of play, you’ve got to be aggressive at the line of scrimmage and get your hands on the receivers, re-route them and then let your athleticism take over.”

Today Ryan said he did indeed get a chance to talk to Cromartie about his aggressiveness. Ryan said, “Oh Yeah, yeah I did. I’d like to see him play more physical at the line-of-scrimmage with his hands and then use his god-given athletic ability past five yards.”

When asked what he took out of the conversation with Ryan and if  he also felt he needed to be more aggressive, Cromartie said, “Oh, definitely. What I take from it is that there’s still room for growth and learning. You know, from my stand point, I mean that’s all I can take from it and go out every single day and try and improve on being more aggressive at the line, putting my hands on the receiver and beating the receiver up.”

Cromartie knows that it will be even more crucial for him to get physical and jam the receiver at the line this week, considering he will likely be matching-up against Wes Welker on a lot of plays.

Cromartie was asked if he has gone up against Welker before and how he did against him. Cromartie said, “Pretty good… (the key to stopping Welker) just getting your hands on him once you beat him up at the line it’s hard for Brady to comeback to him now he has to throw to his other read.”

Ryan doesn’t feel like Wilson had a bad night against the Ravens and it’s hard to argue with his reasoning, after all he is still a rookie who just played in his first NFL game. Ryan said, “I don’t think it’s a rebound deal, I don’t. I mean he got beat on one deep pass to Boldin. He had a couple of fouls that he shouldn’t of had, but I thought for a rookie guy playing corner and playing that nickel spot, that’s tough, but I thought he played relatively well.”

Again these are secondary concerns for the team as a whole. The defense’s biggest problem was their inability to get the Ravens off the field after third-down, but even with that combined with the penalties and a couple big plays here and there, the defense still played more than well enough to win the game.

They allowed just a couple of big plays, including some big penalties that extended drives for the Ravens, but the reason the Jets lost the game was because Sanchez couldn’t make a single big play on offense, other than the 33 yard pass to Dustin Keller that would have gave the Jets first-and-goal at the three-yard line, which was negated by an illegal formation call on Braylon Edwards.

The Jets defense caused Flacco to make some mistakes (including an incredible pick by Cromartie at the goal-line, which was the highlight of the night for Cromartie) but Flacco stepped up and made a couple of big plays. Using Boldin to take advantage of the two new Jet cornerbacks and finding Heap over the middle for a couple crucial long completions that allowed the Ravens to put the most points on the board at the end of the game.

The defense wasn’t the only unit to be victimized by their own penalties. The offense continually beat themselves, getting too many penalties that either negated big plays, or backed the Jets up too far to even attempt trying to pick up big enough chunks of yards to get a first down. Even the special teams had big penalties called on them, backing up the Jets offense on kickoffs and giving the Ravens a new set of downs to work with on other plays.

Yes, Jet fans are understandably concerned about Cromartie’s performance, but they should really be focusing their concerns on the mental mistakes, which lead to way too many penalties. That can be explained by first game rust, not excusable but believable.

The real concern is over Sanchez’s inability or maybe even his own, or Schottenheimer’s, lack of confidence in his ability to stretch the field. The focus for Sanchez all offseason was to limit his turnovers, maybe that has him shying away from taking chances on open plays. Whatever the reason, while the Jets need Sanchez to not turn the ball over, they are also going to need him to make some plays when needed.

Sanchez needs to strike some sort of balance between being careful not to commit any turnovers and still taking attempts at stretching the field when the opportunity is there, because the Jets are going to need both from him if he is going to be the leader of this team like they hope.

Injury Note

Brodney Pool was limited in practice today and when asked if he knew if he would be ready to play on Sunday Ryan said, “It’s too soon.”

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