Antonio Cromartie is banged up, leaving his status for Sunday's game at Baltimore in doubt. Even if he is good enough to play, a real question exists as to whether he should retain his duties as the team's primary kickoff returner.
His year has been up and down in that department. He had a couple of good runs against Jacksonville. There have been some catastrophic moments, though. In Week 1, he ran a ball out from nine yards deep in the end zone and barely made the ten yard line. Then last week he muffed a kickoff return, leading to a critical Oakland touchdown.
McKnight took a return 50 yards later in the contest. Even though he was nine yards deep in the end zone, he took a good gamble because his return came late in the fourth quarter with the Jets down by two scores and in need of a big play. Unlike Cromartie's ill advised run from nine yards deep against Dallas, that was the right spot to roll the dice.
Cromartie has sprinter speed with his long strides. I think McKnight might be a better option. Cromartie tends to run at top speed and hopes he hits a hole. McKnight has better vision trying to find a running lane. He also is better at varying his speed and accelerating after changing direction. On top of this, Cromartie is an important part of the defense. Kyle Wilson's emergence in the first three weeks where he has been nothing short of a lockdown guy in coverage gives the Jets nice depth at cornerback. Having three excellent corners is important in an attack defense like the Jets like to run. McKnight is not an important part of the offense so the risk of injury inherent for returners is less worrisome with Joe.
I think I would make the change and have Joe McKnight making returns. He can do the job and hopefully avoid the tendency for brainlock moments.