Prior to the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets Head Coach Rex Ryan flirted with the idea of inserting RB Joe McKnight at cornerback due to depth issues because of then injured Darrelle Revis. In the end, Joe McKnight wasn’t used at corner back, as he just returned four kicks and had one rushing attempt for 12 yards.
As everyone knows by now, All-Pro Cornerback Darelle Revis is out for the season due to a torn ACL. The Jets have an enormous hole to fill right now, so cue the Joe McKnight speculation once again. The twitter universe has been exploding this morning due to this issue, leading to Joe McKnight actually trending worldwide. Many people have already criticized the idea without actually knowing basic facts about Joe McKnight.
Firstly, Joe McKnight was a two-way athlete coming out of high-school playing both cornerback and running back. He was actually recruited by many schools to play cornerback, including then USC Head Coach Pete Carroll. Pete Carroll then made him a full out running back for the Trojans. Many people in the college football world, believed McKnight would have become an All-Pro cornerback in the NFL if he had stuck with the position, due to his outstanding physical attributes. Joe McKnight actually played cornerback last season for the Jets in a blitz package, most notably used against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4.
In my opinion, this isn’t a terrible idea for the Jets. The Jets acquired Joe McKnight by trading then fan favorite RB Leon Washington to the Seattle Seahawks. The trade has proved to be a huge bust, as many of the moves the Jets make tend to become. Joe McKnight has had his chances to shine at running back, but hasn’t been able to impress, as he is currently behind Shonne Greene and Bilal Powell on the depth chart. So, why not try something different for the former USC Trojan, and potentially salvage a terrible move made by GM Mike Tannenbaum.
After all, Rex Ryan is a defensive specialist, he will put McKnight in a position to succeed. Say what you want about the Jets inablility to put points on the board, but the defense always keeps the team in games. You have to believe Rex will put him in defensive packages that are strictly for passing downs, where McKnight can blitz or have protection over the top.
Obviously, Darelle Revis is irreplaceable, but I think the Joe McKnight experiment can have some success for the Jets in the short term as they try and figure things out without their All-Pro corner back. It won’t be the first time an offensive player switches over to the defensive side, as Bill Bellicheck has done many times in the past (Troy Brown, Julian Edelman as examples). This isn’t something ground breaking or trend setting, so it shouldn’t be criticized as such. Can Joe McKnight finally have an impact that all New York Jet fans expected when they traded up for him?
Whats your opinion on the Joe McKnight siutation? Will Rex find a permanent spot for him on defense?