JetsInsider Point/Counter Point

Usually, the JetsInsider.com reports on the news and happenings with the Jets on the field activities. This week, however, the Jets have made a lot of headlines for activities off the field. From re-signing Aaron Maybin to the active roster, to critiques of Antonio Cromartie, to Joe Namath and Rex Ryan war of words through the media.

Not that all the off-the-field happenings this week is anything new for this team. In fact, since the short-lived Brett Favre era the Jets have had a flare of dramatics on and off the field. Instead of doing a straight article covering these topics, Chris Nimbley and myself decided to have a back-and-forth conversational style breaking down our thoughts on all the issues.

The great thing about this style of writing is we would love to hear your thoughts on our thoughts and the topics themselves. Let us know what you, the diehard Jets fans, think about your team.

On the Antonio Cromartie:

Wesley Sykes – To me he’s become, along with Mark Sanchez, the most polarizing figure on this team. More than any other defensive player that I can think of. His freakish athletic ability usually places him in the center of the action — with the outcome usually being the apex of the game. Of course, this topic comes to mind because of the last three games where they hinged on his plays — His near-INT in the end zone against Miles Austin Week 1, then the 2-INT and great return game against the Jaguars Week 2, and now a 4-penalty and costly KR fumble performance Week 3 against the Raiders.

When he’s producing well, fans love him. Media pundits claim that he is an invaluable piece to this team, saying he’s more physically gifted than Darrelle Revis or Nnamdi Asomugha. When he’s not, claims of his lack of aggressiveness and knack for tallying penalties surround his name.

Chris Nimbley – With all due respect, and I do mean all due respect, I just don’t see Cromartie as being very polarizing at all. This is in large part due to the position he plays, it’s the nature of the position that regardless of how good you are (unless your name is Darrelle Revis), you’re going to get beat and give up some big plays. Yes, Cromartie had a bad night against the Cowboys and an even worse day against the Raiders (most people would say Cromartie deserved the biggest piece of blame pie for that game), with an outstanding game against the Jaguars mixed in, but so goes the life of a cornerback. The thing with Cro is, you don’t hear people question his talent or ability. They question his technique and consistency, which is a more than fair criticism, but at the end of the day I don’t hear too many fans yelling or complaining that Cro, just flat out sucks.

Jets fans, hell fans of any team, will always support players who make big time highlight reel plays, even if they are on the wrong end of the highlight from time to time. In today’s day and age, everything is about highlights and stats. Stats have become all consuming and the problem is people don’t seem to have any use for context of those stats (see anytime someone breaks out the Chad Henne > Sanchez argument). Which brings me to the guy who I think is clearly the most polarizing player on the Jets (other than Sanchez), Bart Scott. No other player faces more unjustified criticism from fans than Scott, his detractors point to his lack of “stats” but conveniently ignore everything he brings to this defense and the fact that this defense is designed to spread the “stats” around to everyone with it’s amoeba-like style. Scott’s job is not to get sacks, it’s not even to get tackles, in a 3-4 defense his job is to occupy a couple of blockers and open things up for teammates. But don’t take my word for it, the great people at Profootballfocus.com, did an excellent job of making my point for me . Jets fans have no problem pointing to the same site for proof that Nick Mangold is easily the best center in the league, but obviously there’s some sort of disconnect with Scott because the very day after you poised this question, this thread popped up in our forums, forever sealing my case for me.

On if the negative attention occurs more so playing next to Revis:

Rex Ryan is usually all smiles, but when former-Jet Joe Namath spoke out against him and the team, Ryan turn serious. (JetsInsider.com Photo).

WS — Playing next to Revis has got to weigh on him. It’s no question that no quarterback wants to throw on Revis’s side, so Cromartie is going to have the spotlight on him constantly. It’s the fact of life that the number two cornerback of the New York Jets is going to have to live with — whether it’s Cromartie, Asomugha or whomever. We’ll see if Kyle Wilson is ready for that bright spotlight if Cromartie can’t go against Baltimore. And I guarantee, win or lose, people are going to say “We need Cro back!”. Playing in Revis’s shadow ironically casts a very big spotlight. I think Cromartie’s done a good job living in it. In San Diego he had a Revis-like respect as the team’s number one corner, now he is targeted by default. The guy is a great corner, one of the best in the NFL. He said he’s coming into this year with a chip on his shoulder and he’s been playing like it. It may not always work in his favor, but the aggressiveness is there.

CN – Playing with Revis obviously effects Cromartie in many different ways, but the thing is I’d argue it helps Cro in as many ways it hurts him. Yes, obviously whoever the number two corner is opposite Revis will face a lot more targets than your normal number two corner, but he also gets the benefit of not having to match-up against the other teams best WR. Just look at the Dallas game for example. The Jets game planned to have Revis on Miles Austin and Cro on Dez Bryant, after that first drive Revis switched on Bryant for the rest of the game when it became clear just how dangerous Bryant was. Also the fact that many QB’s will enter games with the mind set to avoid Revis at all costs, will in turn cause them to force more passes Cro’s way, that they wouldn’t force if Revis wasn’t on the other side, which can lead to big plays by Cro.

Now does Cro’s weaknesses become more noticeable because of the perfection of Revis? Sure, of course it’s only natural and the same would have applied to Asomugha. I agree Cro has done a great job handling the difficulties of what is asked of him more often than not. His aggressiveness is what makes him such a good player and while I agree it can sometimes work against him, the biggest criticism Cro faces is the fact that he doesn’t like to get physical at the line. When Cro attacks his WR with bump-and-run coverage he becomes a much more effective corner, but for some reason he shies away from this coverage too often and that, to me, is his biggest problem.

On Bart Scott and short safeties:

WS — I know Chris believes the ‘most-polarizing’ title deserves to be Bart Scott. And I can’t completely disagree. When the defense is clicking he is at the center of praise. And same if the defense isn’t. The mouth of Scott places a pretty big target on his back from media and fans alike. People listen when he talks and they remember. So when he doesn’t produce it makes people go, “What happened to everything you were saying two days ago?” But I still give it to Cromartie for the one-on-one match-ups that decide the outcome of the game. Scott doesn’t have those same one-on-one match-ups, on the edge, with the spotlight on you. It can be easy to get lost in the trenches, just ask any offensive lineman.

The same goes for Eric Smith and Jim Leonhard. They are two of the game’s smartest players, and when the Jets defense lives up to its potential you can usually look back to the play of these two. It’s no secret that the team has difficulty covering tight ends, and that usually plays a huge factor in games. But it’s still got to be Cromartie for me.

CN – The thing is just you made my point for me. It’s far more difficult for Scott to flash and stand out than for Cromatie too, especially in this Rex Ryan defense. Even when Scott does exactly what he is supposed to, there’s a good chance it will go unnoticed by most fans. Does Scott bring some of it on himself because of the way he loves to talk? No question, fair or unfair the more you say the more people expect from you and the more they will criticize you if they feel your production doesn’t match your mouth.

But again I’d argue that most of the viral hatred you see spewed at Jets players from their own fans is directed at Scott with the two short safeties at number two and three. The only way to consider Cromartie is with a ‘prisoner of the moment’ mind state because of the debacle that was last Sunday, but other than that you don’t hear/see Jets fans calling for Cro to be cut, while that is a common theme in reference to Scott, Leonhard and Smith. I’d also argue most fans know that this type of up-and-down performance is the most you can ask for from Cro while playing opposite of Revis, while fans generally don’t have any realistic idea of what to expect from Scott, because he is asked to do something that you can’t measure with stats and numbers. Ask most fans what they think of Cro and you’ll get basically the same answer, ask about Scott and you’ll hear every possible different answer, ranging from very good to historically bad.

On if Aaron Maybin makes an impact this week:

WS Maybe Maybin will have an impact. It’s too easy to avoid it, I apologize. But what the Jets got burned in was speed on the edge. Maybin brings exactly that. Whether he has an impact and nearly impossible to predict at this point. But if the defense can create a pass rush and knock around a quarterback or two, that’ll take pressure off the corners not named Revis. The question will be can he hang with the slippery Ray Rice. He’s the focal point of the Raven’s offense, as was Darren McFadden for the Raiders. If the Jets are down a corner this week, it will force a lot of outside linebackers to cover Rice as opposed to a nickel or dime corner. Rex Ryan may use Maybin’s speed to combat Rice’s. That is asking a lot out of a player who only had three weeks with the team.

CN – With regards to Maybin, I think anyone who expects him to contribute heavily this Sunday is expecting far too much. This move was not made for an immediate fix to be able to deal with Ray Rice. The Jets signed him to hopefully help out the rest of the season. There’s no doubt the speed of the Raiders helped push the Jets to bring him back, but I also think the disappointing play of Jamaal Westerman is every bit as responsible. All camp long we heard about how Westerman was ready to take that step and become the team’s DPR (designated pass-rusher), only problem is he hasn’t shown anything that would make me think that was remotely possible. Maybin does possess a talent in an area of need for the Jets, which is why it made so much sense to give him another shot.

I fully expect the Jets to use Maybin in the same way they have been trying to use Westerman, which is strictly in the DPR role. If he can succeed in that role the team may look to increase his role, but he wasn’t brought in to defend running backs, he’s here to get after the quarterback.

On the beef between Joe Namath and Rex Ryan:

WS — Does Namath have a point? Yeah, I hear the frustration he’s voicing. Strip down Namath of his celebrity and he’s just another Jets fan. Of course we can’t just do away with who Namath is, so we can’t write him off as just another fan. He’s not. He’s Broadway Joe — the guarantee-making, mink coat wearing, ‘I wanna kiss you’ quoting, gun-slinging quarterback who led the Jets to their only Super Bowl title. He has to show some sort of restraint in his public negative outcries towards this team and the coach. This is not Namath’s team, and with the weight his words carry can go a long way in damaging the psyche of this team and its fans.

I’m happy Ryan stood up against Namath, not that I expected anything less. Namath doesn’t see the day-to-day operations of the team. Ryan does and has for the past two plus years. It’s his team. Of course he has the right to say his team is going to win it all. He should think that it. It’s his job to think that.

CN – I really hate that people even thought this was worth talking about. Broadway Joe is without question the greatest Jet whoever lived, but it’s as much for what he accomplished as it’s for what the franchise has failed to accomplish since his success. The thing that bothers me most about it is it seems to me that Namath goes out of his way to bash Rex and Sanchez every chance he gets. And this isn’t like Michael Strahan or Tiki Barber sending shots at old teammates, because they were getting paid to have those view points, that’s part of their job. Now to be fair, I may just feel this way because I don’t listen to his appearances and I could end up only hearing about the negative, but still most of his complaints come across as sour grapes, because Namath is an old-school rah-rah, in your face type guy and he doesn’t seem to like the new school swagger of Rex’s.

Namath’s complaint, and to be fair it’s the complaint of many others as well, is that Rex doesn’t hold his players as accountable as a head coach should. Which is just pure nonsense, I know this, you know and every other Jets beat writer knows this as well. Rex allows his players the freedom to be whatever type of person they naturally are, but he demands them to be the type of player that he expects them to be. There were numerous times last year, where the players would tell us they got heavily scolded for their poor play, Rex definitely holds his players to his expectations of them as players, not people. He will absolutely send messages to his players, he just won’t use the media to do so, he will tell them to their face and we will never hear about it.

I agree with Namath on one point, but I think he’s pointing the blame in the wrong direction. Yes Rex’s confidence is instilling unrealistic expectations, but not to his players. No the unrealistic expectations are being made by fans, fans like Namath. It’s Namath and the fans that are expecting too much from the Jets, they are the ones drinking the Rex Ryan Kool-Aid.

In Rex’s first two years he has given this franchise the most success it has had since Namath and now after one loss to the Raiders in week three Namath wants to act like everything that worked so well the past two years needs to change?

This team lost in Oakland, because the Raiders simply played better, this is the NFL that’s what happens, hence the phrase ‘Any Given Sunday.’ To suggest that everything that worked so well for the Jets the past two years needs to be flipped is pure crazy talk.

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