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Sporting News---Powering Up: Jets Pin Big Hopes On Big Four


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Powering up: Jets pin big hopes on big four additions

Antonio Cromartie, Santonio Holmes, Jason Taylor and LaDainian Tomlinson figure to be significant pieces in the team's pursuit of a Super Bowl title.


Clifton Brown

Thursday, May. 20, 2010 - 10:45 p.m. ET

FLORHAM PARK, N. J. -- The New York Jets2_bing.gif have gone from looking good on paper to trying to look better on the field.

All the Jets' big-name offseason additions were at Thursday's organized team activity session: cornerback Antonio Cromartie, wide receiver Santonio Holmes2_bing.gif, outside linebacker Jason Taylor and running back LaDainian Tomlinson. The Jets believe they have the talent to win a Super Bowl, and coach Rex Ryan is not bashful about saying so.

"There is so much talent on the field,'' Ryan said. "You line them up across there, you're like, 'Wow.' ''

Turning that wow factor into wins presents an intriguing challenge for Jets coaches and players. Here is a closer look at what the Jets need -- and don't need -- from their four big-name additions:


With no one able to live on Revis Island, Antonio Cromartie must stand on his own.

What they need from Cromartie: A playmaking cover guy to play opposite shutdown cornerback Darrelle Revis2_bing.gif. Teams are already wary of throwing in Revis' direction. If Cromartie plays to the level he did in 2007, when he had 10 interceptions, the Jets could have the NFL's best corner combo.

"We're better equipped to play the Indianapolis Colts today than we were when we ended the season,'' Ryan said.

Cromartie was impressive during Thursday's workout, breaking up several passes in seven-on-seven drills and showing impressive speed in kick return drills. Ryan said he might use Cromartie as a returner in key situations.

What they don't need from Cromartie: His level of play the past two seasons. Cromartie's performance fell off in 2008 and '09 with the Chargers, and if that continues, Cromartie will be a target for quarterbacks. Peyton Manning beat the Jets in the AFC championship2_bing.gif game by throwing steadily toward receivers not covered by Revis. Cromartie is on the spot, and his play will be pivotal in the Jets' success or failure.

"I had a downfall the past two seasons,'' Cromartie admitted. "I've got to pick my game up.''


Looking for top-quality receiving skills, the Jets tune in on Santonio Holmes.

What they need from Holmes: To pick up where he left off last season, when he had career bests in receptions (79) and receiving yards (1,248). Holmes has become a legit No. 1 receiver, and his presence should create more opportunities for Braylon Edwards and Jerricho Cotchery. Holmes' hands were like Velcro on Thursday, and he showed his eagerness to learn the Jets' offense, standing directly behind the huddle even when he was not participating in plays.

What they don't need from Holmes: More off-field trouble. Holmes is suspended for the first four games for violating the league's substance-abuse policy. He was involved in more controversy last month, when a flight attendant told police Holmes would not turn off his iPod during a flight. Holmes denied that Thursday, blaming the flight attendant.

"I turned it off,'' he said. "As she walked away, she said she still heard music. I took my iPod off, put it in the lady's ear sitting next to me and said, 'Ma'am, do you hear any music?' She said, 'No sir.' I put my headphones back on and went to sleep. I get off the airplane and police are standing outside.''

Holmes was not charged, but the Steelers traded Holmes, not for his performance, but because they tired of the drama. Trading for Holmes was a risk-reward gamble that the Jets hope pays off.


Jason Taylor should find mismatches in coach Rex Ryan's creative defensive schemes.

What they need from Taylor: A pass rusher who can line up in a variety of positions and help the Jets' defense cause havoc. Taylor will turn 36 in September, but he had seven sacks with the Dolphins last season. Ryan's creativity on defense should help Taylor find mismatches to exploit.

"It is exciting to see the variations this defense has,'' Taylor said. "They have a good thing going here. They were No. 1 in defense last year. I don't want to mess it up at all. I just want to add to it.''

What they don't need from Taylor: For him to start showing his age. Taylor was held out of Thursday's drills because he is recovering from shoulder surgery, and aging players become more susceptible to aches and pains that limit their effectiveness.

"I hope we stay healthy,'' Taylor said. "That is the biggest thing: staying healthy, staying humble and grinding it out every week. I will pace myself through these OTA's and minicamps. Come training camp I will be fine.''


Life starts over for LaDainian Tomlinson, and he make himself at home in the red zone.

What they need from Tomlinson: To provide a one-two punch with Shonn Greene, effective running in the red zone and reliable receiving out of the backfield, particularly on third down. Tomlinson had 12 rushing touchdowns with the Chargers last season, and he has had at least 10 rushing touchdowns in each of his nine seasons. That nose for the goal line could make the Jets more effective in the red zone.

What they don't need from Tomlinson: Further decline in production and pouting if he doesn't get as many touches as he hopes. Learning to be a complementary player can be difficult for someone headed to the Hall of Fame. Tomlinson badly wants a Super Bowl ring, but he can't let his ego interfere.

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Cromartie once said his goal was to break the single season INT record of 14. This is going to be his best chance to do it because he has Revis on the other side so people can't avoid him. Lots of people think the single season INT record is the oldest meaningful record on the books. Go for it Cro. Get 15 INTs this year and try to make it zero kids for once.

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I can picture CRO taking one to the house early on this season. Man to Man coverage is his thing, and the Chargers just didn't play much of it the last 2 years. Putting him out in man to man coverage with Revis eliminating the #1 option is going to be unbelieveable. We can also mix up coverage, occasionally putting CRO on the #1 guy getting someone to throw toward Revis when they are confused, leading to more turnovers.

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