Late Tuesday afternoon, the New York Jets‘ signed wide receiver-returner Josh Cribbs. The media and the majority of NFL fans will think that it will have no impact on the Jets, but it will affect their return game.
Cribbs has shown in his career that he is a terrible wide receiver. He managed only 107 receptions in eight seasons, which is embarrassing for a wideout. The one thing fans and media can agree on is that Cribbs is explosive when he has the football in open space. This is especially true when he returns a kickoff.
Cribbs does not get enough credit for his previous kick return success because of how amazing Chicago Bears’ kick and punt returner Devin Hester was for so many years. Cribbs managed to score eight kick return touchdowns in his eight seasons, 2005-2012, with the Cleveland Browns, all of them occurring within his first five seasons. He also has three punt return touchdowns.
The Jets’ kick return game is terrible. They have averaged 20.3 yards per kick return, 27th in the NFL.
They had been using Clyde Gates as their kick returner, but he sustained a season-ending shoulder injury. Their backup kick returner Mike Goodson also sustained a season-ending injury, this to his knee.
Cribbs is a great fit for the Jets’ return game when healthy, because he can produce great kick returns. This would allow the offense, which struggles at time, better field position so they can produce more points.
He can be used in the wildcat offense, which the Jets occasionally use.
Cribbs was a college quarterback, which will give offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg numerous options for wildcat plays. Mornhinweg can call for double reverses or quarterback sneaks with Cribbs and quarterback Geno Smith on the field because they can both be dual-threat players.
Defenses would have to account for Cribbs when he has the football because he is typically the fastest player on the field, when healthy. The problem for Cribbs, if you can’t tell yet, is health.
According to Rich Cimini of ESPN.com, “he underwent arthroscopic surgery for a torn meniscus after last season, prompting some teams — including the Jets — to take a pass during the free-agency period.” The Oakland Raiders did invite him to training camp this past offseason, but the team decided to cut him.
It is unknown how healthy Cribbs is, but the potential for him is sky-high. The Jets are most likely giving him a very low salary, so they have nearly nothing to lose.