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Is the Lack of Explosive Players Really the Problem?

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Brian Costello argues that the Jets lack gamebreakers on offense.

As Victor Cruz ran 99 yards down the field to the end zone on Saturday, there had to be plenty of thoughts running through Jets fans’ minds. If we could place comic book thought bubbles over their heads, most would probably look like this: "@#$!"

But there had to be just a few watching No. 80 for the Giants who wondered, "Why don’t we have a player like that?"

Cruz showed just what an explosive player can do, turning a 10-yard hook route into a 99-yard, game-changing touchdown. If you look at the Jets’ roster, they don’t have a player like him.

I have to disagree with Costello on a few fronts here. The Jets have explosive players. One of them is Joe McKnight. He just seldom gets used. The team is intent on playing LaDainian Tomlinson, whose burst is gone. Football is a game where small quantities of time make a big difference. Think of all the shoestring tackles of LT now that just barely prevent him from popping a big run. A guy who is a little faster avoids those tackles. Part of it is clearly Brian Schottenheimer. Additionally, McKnight would have scored a long touchdown with a better throw Saturday after he torched Michael Boley. That brings us to the real issue.

I also think Santonio Holmes is explosive. He has had some plays this year where he has shown every bit the explosion Cruz has. He is extremely dangerous on slants with the ball in his hands. Contrary to popular opinion, he is also a deep threat. He has the speed to get deep and has shown it. The guy once led the NFL in yards per reception with the Steelers. The Jets just do not use him in that way.

Holmes is plagued by bad quarterbacking. This is something I have picked up on watching the games. It isn't just bad throws on plays he is targeted. There are a lot of plays where he is beating the coverage, and Markn Sanchez is not going to him with the ball. There are other times where Sanchez holds the ball too long, and the window closes. Holmes has made some brutal plays this week, but he would be having a big year with good quarterbacking. You can talk all you want about the weapons surrounding a quarterback. More often than not, good quarterbacks turn medicore receivers into good ones, and bad quarterbacks turn good receivers into mediocre ones.

To me it is as clear now the Jets should not have gone with Plaxico Burress over Braylon Edwards as it was at the time. That certainly took an additional explosive player away. With Sanchez throwing Cruz the ball, though, he probably wouldn't be viewed as explosive.

People say you can't only point to the quarterback. That might be true, but the quarterback is really important. An offensive line cannot complete a pass, but a quarterback can make an offensive line look better by stepping up in the pocket to avoid the rush. The Jets have a quarterback right now who steps into the rush. A receiver can do everything right, but he cannot succeed if a quarterback cannot deliver him the ball on time.

I know there are problem areas, but I do not think anybody can look at the overall talent on offense and say this is a unit that should be near the bottom of the league. We can argue the reasons and how to fix it, but the big problem right now is the quarterback, not the skill around him.