Jul 30, 2013; Napa, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders receiver Josh Cribbs (16) at training camp at Napa Valley Marriott. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Jets have recently signed David Nelson, the 6’5 receiver from Buffalo. I’m ok with this signing, because when I remember him paired with Stevie Johnson in 2011 and 2012 he worked pretty well as a #2 and won a lot of his matchups against Jets defensive backs. I think he could be a solid security blanket type of guy here in New York.
The other fact we learned is that Josh Cribbs also was worked out Tuesday. He is a player I am far more interested in for this offense. The reason being is that if he is all the way back to being healthy he can help this team in a number of ways. The question is whether he is all the way back to being healthy. Here are some numbers for you so that you can understand where Josh Cribbs fits into this Jets offense, and how he can help this team immediately, rather than down the road.
Cribbs as we all know is a KR/PR specialist. However in 2011, the Browns did use him a lot at wide receiver. He caught 41 passes for 518 yards and four TD’s. He has also carried the ball effectively 128 times for 753 yards and a 5.9 YPC average. These two things tell me something. This guy can still be used in the passing game, and in the running game when the Jets go to the wildcat. That’s just what you get aside from his return abilities.
Speaking of which, Cribbs has career averages of 25.9 yards per return, and last year returned kicks at 27.4 yards per return. This does not sound like much, but consider that the current kick returner Clyde Gates is returning kickoffs at 19.8 yards per return. That is almost a full first down more that Cribbs can get you on every kickoff return. If you then compare him to the Jets current punt returner Jeremy Kerley you will find that he is returning punts for 5.7 yards a return, whereas Josh Cribbs was averaging 12 in this role last year. That is six more yards per punt return, and almost eight extra yards per kickoff return. These are not teachable skills, or take time to learn the playbook skills. These are things that Cribbs would give the Jets immediately if he were signed today off the street. If you couple that with the fact that this would allow Jeremy Kerley to strictly play wide receiver it helps in that regard as well.
Because the Jets have terrible field position in most games, lose the turnover battle, and have trouble scoring in bunches every little bit is going to help this season. They recently cut WR Ben Obomanu, I think another cut might be coming.
This Monday night is Clyde Gates time for evaluation. He played a 2012 season in which he caught 16 passes the entire year, or one catch per game. He is now on pace to catch 24 passes this year, or 1.5 catches a game. Gates is holding down a spot in which he has done nothing well, nor made big plays going on two years. His role as a 4th receiver is to make an occasional play, or keep the chains moving in certain situations. He does not do that, and hasn’t shown any proof that he will do that in the future. In fact, although he has six catches, he has been targeted 16 times by Geno Smith. This is not an aberration, because last season he was targeted and caught about 40% of the passes that came his way if that. The roster spot he is holding is a waste. If he cannot produce 5 or 6 catches and show that he is dependable against the Falcons on Monday night, I think or rather I hope the Jets will look at releasing him in favor of Josh Cribbs.
A while ago someone wrote that all the Jets receivers are playing one spot ABOVE where they should be. Holmes is a #2 WR playing as a main option, Hill is a #3 playing as a second wideout and so on. That may be true. But if the Jets can get a good mix going of Holmes, Hill, Kerley, Nelson, Cribbs, and Spadola they may be on to something by the end of the season. Nelson could provide the excellent hands that they need at receiver, and Cribbs could provide the playmaking and shorter field on offense that they desperately need on special teams. One way or another, it is time to make some positive changes to help this offense.