At this point, whenever I write anything about the Jets this preseason, I do it fully aware that I’m being abused as Rex Ryan’s play puppet. It hurts that I don’t mean more than that to him, but the rejection will wear off. It always does.
But this time fingers are meeting keys because the Jets may be about to actually follow through with an experiment in a preseason game, and once said experiment surfaces in the preseason, it’s one step closer to becoming a regular-season reality, with the Jets’ Frankenstein being deployed during a game that matters.
The monstrosity I’m referring to is, of course, Antonio Cromartie at wide receiver.
Hell, who knows, maybe Cromartie will shut me and others up. And maybe he’ll trot out and be just fine at wide receiver while doing his best Devin Hester impression and becoming the next cornerback to switch and be the one being covered instead of the one doing the covering. And really, that’s not the point here.
If Cromartie is used as anything more than a one-off gadget trickster (and so far, that’s what it sounds like he’ll be), it speaks far more to the Jets’ ineptitude at the wide receiver position than it does to his versatility. But in just a few days we could see Cromartie line up at wideout in live game action.
He caught a touchdown pass in practice today, and while speaking to the media Ryan cryptically hinted that Cromartie could be split out wide against the Giants on Saturday.
From Jenny Ventras:
You see the skill that he has,” coach Rex Ryan said. “He’s an impressive guy. We’ll find out when Kenny Phillips hits him, or one of these big safeties, or (Antrel) Rolle hits him or something like that. Then we’ll see if he can still catch the ball.”
Ryan referred to the starting safeties for the Giants, whom the Jets will play in their second preseason game Saturday.
Does that mean Cromartie will see some time at receiver in the game? Ryan left the door open.
“I throw it out there making sure that they’re working on it,” he said. “It would be interesting. Throw him out there, see what happens.”
Why not, I guess. The receiving options for the first team offense Saturday could be pretty limited with Santonio Holmes maybe and probably out for the rest of the preseason due to a rib injury, and today Stephen Hill suffered a minor finger injury. Minor injuries are a sufficient excuse to chill on the sideline during a preseason game and be a vastly overpaid cheerleader.
Cromartie’s potential deployment combined with the injuries scattered among the Jets WRs highlights another significant concern in New York. There’s a jarring lack of depth and experience among the wideouts beyond Holmes, the 28-year-old who missed four games two years ago. Hill has promise as a rookie, but Chaz Schilens and Jeremy Kerley are the two receivers beyond him, and they only have a combined 101 career receptions over a combined five seasons.
Combined, that sucks, and it’s not a favorable situation for a team with a quarterback trying to rebound from a season of regression. Any significant in-season injury to Holmes or Hill could lead to a far greater reliance on either tight end Dustin Keller, or Tim Tebow and the newly-installed wildcat that’s super secret.
So dedicate your nightly prayers to Jets health tonight, you guys, because in a world where Tebow is in a legitimate sports conversation and is mentioned alongside Phil Mickelson and Sandy Koufax, we’ve already entered a new frontier from which we can never return.