New, Improved Rex? Jets Coach Uses ‘Hands-On’ Approach To Quash Cromartie Tensions
CORTLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — After last season’s locker room turmoil and disappointing 8-8 finish, Rex Ryan vowed to WFAN’s Mike Francesa that he’d be more “hands-on.”
Mission accomplished — so far. Make it two budding controversies extinguished by the coach since the Jets opened training camp at SUNY Cortland.
Ryan addressed his players during a meeting Wednesday, reminding them to “be mindful” of what they say in public in the wake of cornerback Antonio Cromartie’s remarks that he’d rank himself the second-best wide receiver on the team.
A day after wide receiver Chaz Schilens said he felt the comment was a “slight” to the players at his position, he backtracked Thursday, saying he cleared the air with Cromartie.
“Antonio Cromartie is a hell of an athlete,” Schilens said with a smile. “He could play wide receiver anytime he wants to.”
Schilens also spoke individually with Ryan, who thought Cromartie’s comments were mostly a joke and recognized that Schilens didn’t take them as they might have been intended – causing a mini-feud for the Jets.
“I think everyone laughed about it except Chaz,” Ryan said. “That’s the truth. Chaz should know (Cromartie’s) not the No. 2 receiver, you know what I mean? How many balls has Cromartie caught? How many routes has he run? Now is he an unbelievable athlete? Yes.
“I was just shocked he didn’t say he was the best receiver.”
Cromartie chose to not speak to reporters for a second straight day, but Schilens was willing to acknowledge that he was partially in the wrong.
“I think it was a teachable moment,” Schilens said. “I understand what I could do differently.”
Santonio Holmes, the one receiver who Cromartie told “ESPN First Take” ranks ahead of him, said the players would let the coaches “deal with that.” Ryan dealt with Holmes at the beginning of camp, saying he’s “in here to be a receiver, not to be the offensive coordinator” after the wideout questioned the validity of a two-quarterback system.
“It doesn’t bother us,” Holmes said of Cromartie’s comments. “We play on our side of the ball and he plays on his side of the ball.”
Well, not quite. And that’s part of the issue. The Jets have acknowledged that Cromartie could see action this season at wide receiver, although he has seen just one snap at the position so far in training camp.
“Cro is very athletic,” Sanchez said. “Athletically, could he be one of our best receivers? Probably. Chaz is an awesome player. He’s playing his butt off, so we’re not even going there. It’s a non-issue.”
Ryan, known to always speak his mind during his three-plus seasons as the Jets’ coach, said he has seen some of his statements take on a life of their own at times. At times, the brash Ryan said, his quotes aren’t always fully reported, making them more likely to be headline fodder – just as he thought happened with his statement earlier in camp that he’s the NFL’s best defensive coach.
In telling his players to watch what they say, Ryan insists he’s not changing his “always be yourself” approach. Rather, it’s making sure no one is hurting the team with their words, which is what happened last season as the Jets were derailed by in-fighting in the locker room.
“I’m not putting muzzles (on players),” Ryan said. “Here is a fact: I say something, and then they put a period after it and then it doesn’t send your whole message. It happened over and over last year and then it snowballs.”
That’s why Ryan told reporters he would “handle” the comments by Cromartie and Schilens.
“We’re going to be out in front of things,” Ryan said, “not behind things.”
NOTES: Holmes sat out of practice with what he called “a lot of soreness in the body,” and wasn’t sure when he would return. Holmes added that the trainers held him out because the Jets worked mostly on short-yardage situations, and there was no need to push him. … RG Brandon Moore will attend the Hall of Fame induction ceremony for RB Curtis Martin on Saturday night in Canton, Ohio. Moore was a “little young guy” in 2004, when Martin won the NFL’s rushing title at 31 years old. “When somebody asks you to come to the Hall of Fame, I think you go,” Moore said. He said former lineman Dave Szott, the Jets’ director of player development, and former center Kevin Mawae will be among those in attendance. … The Jets moved the green-and-white practice Saturday from the grass fields to SUNY Cortland’s stadium. Ryan said the stadium makes things more convenient for fans to watch, plus the turf is new, in great shape and not an injury risk.
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