Cortland, NY– There are a lot of question marks surrounding the Jets offense, but the riddle opposing defenses should focus on solving is who will line up on what part of the field and when. The Jets receivers consist of Santonio Holmes and bunch of unproven talent, but the key to unlocking their maximum potential as a group is the multiple looks they can give defenses and it starts with the versatility of Holmes.
After practice today Rex Ryan informed us that not only is Jeremy Kerley dealing with a minor injury, but he has also disappointed Ryan this offseason as he is having trouble picking up the new system.
“Jeremy [Kerley] needs to step it up, because quite honestly, I was a little disappointed in Jeremy this offseason. He’s got to pick up this system, this new system. You have to put the time in it.” Ryan said, “Jeremy’s one of the hardest working guys I’ve seen. Last year, Mike Tannenbaum challenged him to catch 250 balls a day and he does. Then he’ll go back and catch 100 punts. I know the one-two is there we have to make sure we dial in, make sure the mental part of its there, and then it’s unfortunate, he had a setback, we have to be careful with it because we don’t need this to be a re-occurring thing so we have to get healthy and then move on.”
If Kerley continues to struggle and finds himself on the bench Holmes would would be the most logical solution to replace Kerley in the slot. Holmes has the strength and straight line speed to play on the outside, but he is also more than quick and crafty enough to operate in the slot.
“Well, Santonio [Holmes] clearly can be a slot receiver. You can put Tone [Santonio Holmes] anywhere. He can do it. And we’ve got guys pushing for those things.” Ryan said, “If that was the case, you can put Chaz [Schilens] outside. You can put Patrick Turner outside. [There are] different things but clearly you want Jeremy to be that guy. He did a good job for us last year. As a slot receiver, he has the make-up of a good slot receiver, a guy that’s tough, a guy that can catch the football, and, obviously, he has unusual change of direction.”
The additions of Schilens and Stephen Hill give the Jets options that they didn’t have last season, such as lining up Holmes in the slot. If Kerley can figure the new system out and play at the level the coaching staff believes he can Tony Sparano will have the option to move his pieces around the chess board with no restrictions. In three-receiver sets it could be Holmes and either Hill or Schilens on the outside and Kerley in the slot or Hill and Schilens outside with Holmes in the slot. In four-receiver sets having Hill and Schilens on the outside and both Holmes and Kerley lined up inside could prove to be too much for any mere mortal defense to handle.
Naturally this is all based on Schilens staying healthy, Holmes being on his best behavior and all the receivers finding ways to contribute. The damage they can potentially do with the right combination of weapons will depend on their ability to get open as well as Sanchez’s ability to get them the ball, but the damage they could potentially do is real. Like Holmes, both Hill and Schilens possess the strength and speed to “take the top off the defense,” and run intermediate routes across the middle and Holmes and Kerley can find the seems in the middle of the defense and turn it up field and this is all for a ground-and-pound team that plans on using Tim Tebow in every way they can conceive of.
“We ran the ball a s—load here with Curtis [Martin], we ran the ball well. I think I had 80 catches one year, Wayne [Cherbet] had 80 the same year, Dedrick? Had another 50 something and we were a running team.” Keyshawn Johnson said yesterday when asked if a ground-and-pound offense can limit the production of receivers. “But when we needed to throw, we threw and I think you can do that. I’ve never been on an air attack team. Every team I’ve ever been on we ran the ball a bunch, but when we needed to throw, we threw.”
If you’re still not sold on the potential nightmare these receivers, running backs and Tebow could impose on defenses there’s also this new wrinkle that we are now allowed to talk about freely. During OTA’s the media was told not to report the specifics of Antonio Cromartie lining up at receiver, but yesterday Ryan let the cat out of the bag.
“You have 53 guys on your roster, 45 are active, some games there has to be some crossover. Don’t be surprised if [Antonio] Cromartie learns how to play some receiver. That’s something we’ve talked about. ” Ryan said, “You have to be ready for those types of things. You learn the system and that makes you more valuable.”
Today Cromartie told reporters that, “they are putting together a Cro package,” even joking that, “I can throw the ball too.” With the Tebow package, the Cro package, the different running back and receiver sets they can throw out there defenses will certainly have a much tougher time identifying plays than they did the last two seasons where opponents often told Jets players they knew what play they were running before the ball was snapped.
So many questions about this offense, but the Jets might just have more answers than any of us originally thought.
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