NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — John Idzik is not going to get into the good graces of a lot of Jets fans until he fixes the team’s secondary.
Stories like the following are not going to make his detractors any more forgiving.
Though the second-year general manager has kept saying publicly he would not change his offseason approach if given a second chance, he has to be concerned on some level about a cornerback situation that just doesn’t fit with a defense built to win now.
It turns out the Jets were a lot closer to fixing a good portion of their problems than a lot of people realize.
Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who was one of the more coveted corners on the market during free agency, recently told the NY Post he barely chose the Giants over the Jets. He eventually signed a lucrative long-term deal with Big Blue, but he said he met with the Jets first and was extremely impressed by what he saw.
“They definitely got some good guys over there and the things that they’re trying to do in their program,” Rodgers-Cromartie said.
The veteran defensive back out of Tennessee State has 19 career interceptions, including three and a return for touchdown last season for the Denver Broncos, with whom he signed a one-year deal before the season. Previously he played for Arizona and Philadelphia Eagles, making the Pro Bowl in 2009 with the Cardinals.
He told the Post he immediately was impressed with Jets head coach Rex Ryan.
“Ah man, a high-spirited guy,” Rodgers-Cromartie said. “A guy that as soon as you meet him, big smile, big hug, a high-spirited friendly.”
Rodgers-Cromartie said he “couldn’t remember” if the Jets tried to keep him in the building, which is another way of saying whether or not they tried to sign him. He told the Post he was taking the meeting with the Giants the next day “no matter what.”
“They told me how they’d use me and stuff like that. Then I went home and got some rest,” he said.
The rest, as they say, is history. Rodgers-Cromartie met with Giants GM Jerry Reese and several members of the coaching staff and then went out to dinner with head coach Tom Coughlin. He then returned to his hotel and “was still up in the air,” as far as which team he intended to sign with was concerned.
The next day the Giants offered a five-year, $35 million contract and Rodgers-Cromartie accepted.
“I really prayed on it, to be honest,” he said. “I went into a room, talked to my agent. I felt more comfortable over here.”
The question is, did he feel more comfortable because he was a better fit with the Giants or because the Jets’ offer was either not up to snuff or was never made?
It’s a fair question considering the Jets did little to address the glaring need they had and still have at the position. Like Rodgers-Cromartie, the Jets also seemed to never get too serious about free agents Alterraun Verner, who signed with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, or Vontae Davis, who went to the Indianapolis Colts, they never re-engaged representatives for Darrelle Revis and let veteran Antonio Cromartie walk.
They did sign veteran Dimitri Patterson, but the Jets are now his sixth team since 2005 and he’s played in just 15 games since the beginning of the 2012 season due to injuries. What’s more, injuries have kept him sidelined for most of training camp.
The Jets have also been piecing their corners together due to the season-ending knee injury suffered by third-round pick Dexter McDougle and the high-ankle sprain that could keep second-year man Dee Milliner out to start the regular season.
They Jets have since resorted to trying converted safety Antonio Allen at one corner and relying on journeyman Ellis Lankster on the other side, putting an enormous amount of pressure on the defensive line to generate pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Idzik has said the Jets will keep their options open going forward, but it will be interesting to see what he does at corner between now and Aug. 30, when teams are required to get down to 53 players.
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