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STS*: Will McKnight Take Over KOR Duties?

Posted by Randy Lange on October 1, 2011 – 12:17 pm

Nobody’s issued a 100 percent ironclad official statement to the effect that sore-chested Antonio Cromartie will give his kickoff-return career a rest and focus on cornerback beginning Sunday night at Baltimore.

“I’m prepared to go a lot of ways,” special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff said Thursday. And Rex Ryan offered his view of Cro continuing to return kicks with his bruised rib and lung: “No way … unless we need him.”

To all of that Joe McKnight said of Cromartie on returns, “I don’t think we need him. I’m good. I can do it.”

McKnight showed how ready he is with a 50-yard return with 2:37 to play that, under different circumstances, could have done for the Jets’ comeback effort at Oakland what Cromartie’s 47-yarder did for their wild-card comeback at Indianapolis last season.

“The ball bounced,” Westhoff said. “It was kind of hard to field. Joe was a little slow to get going because of the way the ball hit. But he did a real nice job. We blocked it very well but he ran it well.”

McKnight agreed with both premises.

“I’m trying to keep moving on, making progress off of every turn,” he said. “And I’ve got Westerman in front of me setting blocks, PT [Patrick Turner], I got Mully [Matt Mulligan] back there. They really make it easy for me.”

CBS’ end zone replay showed the beauty of how well the Jets blocked it and McKnight returned it. Nick Bellore, Mulligan and John Conner — the latter two linking hands as the Jets’ two-man wedge — mowed down three Raiders as McKnight veered right around them. Garrett McIntyre kicked his man out left and Westerman his guy right. McKnight angled back left through that gap and behind blocks from Kyle Wilson, Josh Mauga, Turner and Brodney Pool to get to the left sideline before he ran out of room.

The only player on the return team not in that shot was Marquice Cole, who was on the far right but also walled off his man off-camera.

Under Westhoff, of course, 50-yard-plus returns have become business as usual. But it is perhaps significant from a small sampling that since Brad Smith ran back the opening kickoff 97 yards at Pittsburgh in Week 15 last season, the Jets, except for two Cromartie 40-yarders, has been kind of average, with an average on the next 31 returns of 20.7 yards.

Then along came McKnight with the longest kickoff return of his pro career in any game, showing the Jets there is a direction they can go besides Cro.

McKnight still chuckles about his relationship with Westhoff, which started out rockily but has reached a stage of mutual respect.

“It’s tough, but he always wants you to be your best. That’s what I get out of it,” McKnight said. “It might make you mad, but he wants you to give your full effort. He wants your best from you.”

The 23-year-old second-year man from Southern Cal and River Ridge, La., wants the same from himself, it seems, because he’s eager but not anxious about getting his full NFL career, including a greater offensive role, off and running.

“I’m doing a way better job of everything, really,” he said. “I’ve just got to be patient and my time will come,” he said. “It’s still the beginning part of the season. We have a lot more games to play.”

As for the fourth game of the season at Baltimore’s loud and proud M&T Bank Stadium, it looks as if he’ll get his chance to expand on his kickoff curriculum vitae. The last word on the subject from Westhoff will have to suffice until tomorrow night.

“Joe’s taken almost all the reps in practice this week, and I’m probably more prepared to go that way,” the coach said. “But we’ll see Cro’s doing and go from there and make a decision.”

Heimerdinger Passes Away

Mike Heimerdinger, the Jets’ offensive coordinator in 2005 as well as the coordinator for the Titans and Broncos, died Friday after a year-long battle with a rare form of cancer. He was 58. We offer our condolences to his immediate  family and to his NFL family.

*Special Teams Saturday

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Posted in Randy Lange | 36 Comments »

36 Responses to “STS*: Will McKnight Take Over KOR Duties?”

  1. By wayne on Oct 1, 2011 | Reply

    Home grown Jet….Way to go Joe. Keep it comin.

  2. By Ray on Oct 1, 2011 | Reply

    I don’t worry about Westhoff, he’ll have them ready. I worry about Rex…I want to see if he has the ability to coach against his old team like he does everyone else. Everytime we have faced the Ravens under Rex he sounds almost in awe of them, never a bad word about the old boys. Well, he can’t afford to coach scared again, he has to go right at them and play like they are the enemy, not old friends.

  3. By wayne on Oct 1, 2011 | Reply

    I knew SOMEONE wouldn’t be able to resist the urge to put the hammer to Schottenheimer. lol………………..I won’t say a word, I made the comment on the site shortly after hearing of Tom Moore’s signing that this was the final year for Schottenheimer if this offense didn’t take the next step. As I said then the signing was a direct indictment of S’s shortcomings….He’s gotten a more than enough of an oppty…Far more than most….And he’s no longer tied to the QB’s development. If anything, at this point it would seem he’s done all he could. There comes a point when there’s nothing left you can do but make a change……….Whatever happens, he won’t want for a job in the NFL.

  4. By Alex G on Oct 1, 2011 | Reply

    Special teams and defense has to be perfect Sunday Night as the offense certainly has it’s problems. Mark needs to be better protected, the guy can’t be allowed to be abused by the Raven defense, or it will be a long ugly and frustrating night for the JETS. defense ratings already in one game sunk us to all time low’s. I have a feeling the Jets will some how dig deep and find a way to rise, regain the JETS defense status as being the best in the business.

  5. By hammm on Oct 1, 2011 | Reply

    What happened to Jeremy Kerley doing kick returns? I like Joe but before the season it seamed like kerley was the guy. Just wondering if there’s a reason he hasn’t done any kick returns?

  6. By GaryC on Oct 1, 2011 | Reply

    Are we missing Brad Smith yet.

  7. By no one listens to Blinka on Oct 1, 2011 | Reply

    So easy to make the OC the scapegoat isn’t it. Ever think that maybe it’s the player?

    Look what our Defense as done so far, I can’t remember reading anything about the DC.

  8. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 1, 2011 | Reply

    Yeah, Wayne, I also see no reason Moore couldn’t just stop working from home and start coming to the stadium to draw up plays. Mid-season replacements of that kind are usually a last resort but if we lose to both BAL and NE and look bad doing it, I think that such a last resort might not only be called for but clamored for across the board. It would mean evaluating at the end of the yr whether Moore wants to come back full-time or not. In other words, it would mean Rex finally becoming a real head coach and taking charge of the whole team, instead of acting like a DC who happens to wander into the O’s meetings here and there to suggest a few Wildcat plays for Brad Smith…or Kerley now, I guess…

  9. By MiIKE on Oct 1, 2011 | Reply

    Good-bye to the ground and pound. The Jets rushing totals have declined alot over last couple years. First we loose Faneca an awesome run blocking Guard, than replace him with Slauson, who has played better than expected. Than Woody is gone who teamed up with Brandon Moore and Mangold was probably the best run blocking group in the NFL. We don’t have the tools to run 30 times a game and get wins. Time to adapt to what we have.

  10. By uncle joe on Oct 1, 2011 | Reply

    I see a Jets 17-10 victory with Scott and Poaha dumping the Gatoraide over Ryan with 1:02 left and the Jets O running out the clock.This after a Wilson INT.

  11. By carl on Oct 1, 2011 | Reply

    Westy time to let J Nite run.He is ready!Rex, lets play Buddy Ball !Ground and Pound Baby!! Use the Terminator!!!Mark S lets go! Time to hit the big fella! Throw that ball up and let Plax go get it! Shotty time to call the game of your life!! You want to be a head coach?Put your best out there!! Calvin Pace whats up?Hopefully Maybin can help us out ! That story about his aunt ,man was emotional ! I got a funny feelin he is gonna do good, its his time!Go Jets!!!!!

  12. By Jack on Oct 1, 2011 | Reply

    I’m very happy to hear that McKnight it getting the ball on KOR But I would like to see what he can do behide that awful offensive line. Come Rex put RB Joe McKnight in for some plays as a back for Greene.

  13. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 2, 2011 | Reply

    It’s easy to blame the OC, Blinka, when no matter who the players are the OC gets them to perform in the same mediocre way. I’m with you on using McKnight at RB, Jack, we’re not exactly setting the world on fire with just LT and Greene. hammm, Kerley doing great in pre-season at KR, getting all kinds of praise for it from Rex and Westhoff, and then not returning kicks during the season is just another one of those absurd-in-the-absence-of-an-explanation things for which the Rex-era Jets, unfortunately, are becoming known.

  14. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 2, 2011 | Reply

    We just caught a HUGE break, Nugent pulled it out for CIN over BUF so if we can win today, we can be even at 3-1with BUF and NE even if the Pats beat the Raiders today. And go to NE next week with the possibility of taking undisputed possession of 1st if we win up there since BUF’s a real good bet to lose to the Eagles next week. A big game just got bigger, boys, so let’s step it up!

  15. By wayne on Oct 2, 2011 | Reply

    Lol, 64, this one has to runs it course. Jets would have to absolutely nosedive for TM to come out of the bullpen. Jets are still one of better teams, as it looks right now, so they should more than make the playoffs. That being the case, it’s kind of hard to see them upsetting the applecart.

  16. By Another Tom on Oct 2, 2011 | Reply

    Not too much smack talk from Rex this week…I love this approach….

  17. By wayne on Oct 2, 2011 | Reply

    Rex does get a little timid when it comes to his old team…..Don’t know if he’s afraid to rile up #52(don’t go telling me how Ray is washed up. we all know he’s seen his better days. we’re talking about Rex here) or Joe Willie had some affect…………..Whichever the reason, BULLY!!!!

  18. By john on Oct 2, 2011 | Reply

    I have been a Jets fan for 43 years @ I have to say everrytime the offense has the ball I can predict what play they call , if I can do this as a fan ,how easy is it for a defensive coordinator to defend , I just think its time for a new o.c., You can have all the big names in the world but if you don’t know what to do with them its the same old result !

  19. By wayne on Oct 2, 2011 | Reply

    Joe Mac!….It seems coach Westhoff is back to coaching for the return. Change in the return game bothered him more than it should have early, but now that he sees that it’s still possible to make things happen on ST, he’s back to his old ways.

  20. By Jack on Oct 2, 2011 | Reply

    Great return McKnight now if they only can wake up and put McKnight in as the staring running backs.

  21. By Jack on Oct 2, 2011 | Reply

    Hey Rex Rayn please make RB Joe McKnight in as the starting running backs.

  22. By sal on Oct 2, 2011 | Reply

    maybe he should take over Greens spot, another Gholston. Baltimore exposed the Jets.

  23. By Karan on Oct 2, 2011 | Reply

    Couple of things that we can take away from this game, Schottenheimer has got to go, but of course that’s not going to happen…..sigh. O-line needs some serious help and lastly, this is not a super-bowl caliber team, I absolutely hate saying that. We are in for a looong season. I tip my hat off to Joe McKnight and Aaron Maybin.

  24. By wayne on Oct 2, 2011 | Reply

    Easy guys, Joe McKnight was not going to change this game. He’s establishing a nice niche and he can come in here and there, but he’s not ready to carry the load……Mark and the offense were pretty offensive, taking over where D left off last weekend……….GQ took an awful beating. No need piling on.

  25. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 3, 2011 | Reply

    Well, I guess we can stop talking about cutting tremendous college players in their 1st yrs just because they have a couple of bad days in their first summer practices and our HC is dumb and insensitive enough to use such episodes as stand-up comedy fodder. Instead we can start talking and thinking like adults, now that McKnight was one of the only guys on the team last night to have a good game. And he had it on ST and D to boot. Wonder what would happen if we actually played him on O.

  26. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 3, 2011 | Reply

    Still LOL, wayne? Nosedive, meet Jets. I can name on the fingers of one hand the players — McKnight, Kerley, Wilkerson, Wilson…uh…uh…– who looked like they had any idea what they were doing last night. It’s not all Schotty’s fault, of course. He has nothing to do with the overrated Leonhard and Smith, who now get picked on routinely in every game. You think the team you saw tonight is gonna beat NE? SD? BUF? Well, guess what, if we lose all of those and only beat MIA, we’ll be 3-7 at Week 10 and starting to talk about the 2013 Sanchez vs McElroy battle and how we’re gonna get 9 or 10 draft picks like NE or CLE. (See, GaryC, I hear ya!) I didn’t see a hint of evidence of “one of the better teams” in Green and White tonight, did you?

  27. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 3, 2011 | Reply

    wayne, you remind me of Schotty and the Jets O, throwing long for the first time in the 4th qtr down 2 and a half TDs. How much LESS impressive does our running game need to get before you consider that maybe McKnight in the backfield might be able to make a contribution? How many teams with injured starters on D have to beat us up before you consider that maybe Schotty is really bad at match-ups, maximizing the O’s talent in the interest of an aggressive attack, and calling plays? Almost nobody but Revis is “carrying the load” at his position consistently, so what’s the big deal about playing new guys a bit more? I feel badly for Thomas and I hope he recovers to play this yr. But I also look forward to seeing what the younger LBs can do.

  28. By kw65Fan on Oct 3, 2011 | Reply

    2012…2012….64 Tom…Said it before and say it again…the chants will be coming down from all the seats….”We want Mac….We want Mac”. why wait till 2013…????. sooner than most will think. Regardless of what the Ravens D did do and try to do…Sanchez looked like a Deer facing Headlights…so clueless. Can’t believe how offensive line in such a shambles…so quickly. But then if you don’t get at least one veteran as depth for back up roll and thinking that Turner was coming back is also being clueless Mr. T and Rex. T.V. cameras were making like it was all the Center’s fault but hello…Sanchez fumbled the snap in his hands and also fumbled the shot gun pass in not paying attention….

  29. By GaryC on Oct 3, 2011 | Reply

    thank you jet fan tom, yes the jets might become the 1964 yankees when everything falls apart at once,look at philly, their all galaxy team isn’t working either,why is it that some teams like the patriots can lose players on their offensive line and not miss a beat,the jets, THE FLOODGATES OPEN UP,Hate to say it but Ducasse is traveling under the alias of Mike Haight and Jacob Bender.might have to look at Callahan a little more at the job he is doing.It might be time to do what Jimmy Johnson did and trade a big star to get those additional draft picks, remember when I said to trade Revis for a bounty of picks,only if we had scouts who knew how to select.they pick guys who have substance issues,guys who have trouble with the english language

  30. By Scott T. on Oct 3, 2011 | Reply

    I know the last two games were unwatchable but I don’t think things are as bad as they look. Our defense actually played really well last night against the ravens.
    The real problem is our offensive line is in shambles. We have backups playing for hurt backup’s on the field and Sanchez has no time to do anything. Pray for a speedy Nick Mangold recovery so we can have some kind of stability on our O. Our D and Special teams look good. I mean 21 of the Raven’s points were scored off of sacks and interception forced by rushed throw ALL BECAUSE OF OUR O-LINE. If we can get our O line straightened out I think we can still have a good season. I’m realistic though that I doubt its our year for the superbowl. Packers look poised to repeat

  31. By Gary on Oct 3, 2011 | Reply

    McKnight needs to get in the mix with RB duties as well. He’s fast and can get through fit through small spaces

  32. By Scott T on Oct 3, 2011 | Reply

    I agree Gary, Mcknight should get a shot… cant do anyworse then green… also I want to keep LT fresh for passing downs

  33. By DGC on Oct 3, 2011 | Reply

    O line coach needs to go along with our play caller Shotty, just like the job he’s
    doing. He had no gameplan or answers for the Raven’s D. Sanchez looked like
    a deer caught in the headlights. He showed no ability to rally the troops, there was
    no fight in the O at all, no one stepped up, it was embaressing to watch.
    No more Super Bowl talk until we get out of the toilet bowl !
    Great Special teams as always, D did a great job once they were turned loose,
    they had Flaco running like Brady needs to run to come back Sunday.
    Dare I say Sanchez might not be the right guy ? He’s too short and his passes
    get tipped too often. HELP US

  34. By Howie D on Oct 3, 2011 | Reply


  35. By Jet Fan Since '64 Tom on Oct 3, 2011 | Reply

    DGC, unlike some folks who think asking questions about “fan favorites” equals some kind of egregious form of disloyalty, I’ll congratulate you for wondering if Sanchez is the guy, and you don’t have to apologize for saying it. The guy’s in his 3rd yr, the one in which he needs to show he can execute not just in big post-season games but in every regular season game. He’s still making a lot of mistakes that rookie QBs make. Clearly we’re making it a lot harder on him with the lack of pass protection but like Sanders and those guys said last night, a maturing QB should still be doing better. Besides, MS may be spoiled by the last 2 yrs’ protection, some QBs have to work with worse. No problem re-evaluating MS as the starter after this yr.

  36. By Jimmer on Oct 3, 2011 | Reply

    This was the smartest move of the week, and not because of the TD. Cro got burned last week, and was willing to do anything to make it right. That’s why starters should not be returners. Cro turned a bad day, into something he will swear was a nightmare.

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