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A Wish for Receiver Health, Stability for the Offense

The major slice of today's news conference pie was devoted to our quarterback situation, as you would expect with Geno Smith being benched vs. Miami, Matt Simms seeing his most meaningful reps behind center as a pro, and David Garrard in the mix as well.

But it wasn't all about Geno, who got the starting nod for lucky Game 13 on Sunday against the Raiders. It was also about receivers, those that were on the field a lot and those that weren't.

Specifically, head coach Rex Ryan was asked about Santonio Holmes' two offensive plays at the start of the game before he shut it down for the day.

"We thought he was going to play a little more than that, but what we noticed as coaches was that the burst wasn't quite there," Ryan said. "And so, instead of him possibly having a setback, we were only going to play him in what we said was a must situation because we can't afford for him to take a step back, lose him for the rest of the year. We need him to be going forward."


"But with that said, we thought we could get some plays. We started him first play. We had exactly what we thought would happen — the safety came down and doubled him and then we thought we were going to throw the big ball over top. That wasn't the case, we got sacked.

"He's a presence, he gives us a presence out there, and if he's healthy enough, you want him out there."

So newly beset Santonio joined Jeremy Kerley (elbow), sidelined for the third game. And then during the game Josh Cribbs, listed as a wideout but more of a jack-of-all-trades who could be used in the passing game as well as our main returner, also went down in the second quarter.

"I think it's pretty bad," Ryan said of Cribbs' shoulder injury. "We'll have an update for you as we get going. I don't have the specific thing right now, but I think it's pretty serious."

When it rains, it pours. And then it aches. Boy, does it ache.

Many fans are unhappy with Geno Smith's regression from hot to not, but as much as they may not want to hear it, there are many reasons outside of Smith's physical skills and psyche affecting his and the offense's skid. The available receivers, for one thing.

Consider that Smith really has had the same cast of wideouts and tight ends in back-to-back games only twice: for New England/Cincinnati and maybe for Buffalo/Baltimore. But as Rex has been candidly saying, even if they are dressing out for games, they're not always on the practice field. As Ryan noted, both Holmes and TE Kellen Winslow were sidelined last Thursday due to their physical issues.

"Those are things where, if we get those guys back out there, they're practicing and we're making plays, that bodes well for us," he said. "But if they're not available to you, even on the practice field, it's hard to get consistency when some of your guys aren't even out there."

Put another way, when David Nelson arrived and in short order rang up four catches for 80 yards in the OT win over the Patriots, it looked like Smith-to-Nelson was a game-changer, a life-saver. But five catches on 19 targets over the past four games, with two Geno passes sailing wide past Nelson on Sunday, demonstrates just a little how hard it can be for a young QB and a new veteran WR to get together without a full offseason of work together, let alone a full couple of weeks.

Even if Jerry Rice and Wayne Chrebet unretire together to play for Rex in Marty Mornhinweg's West Coast hybrid and fight over who gets to wear No. 80 beginning Wednesday, it's not going to help.

What will help is if Holmes, Kerley, Stephen Hill, Nelson, Greg Salas, Winslow, Jeff Cumberland and Zach Sudfeld can put a full week together of working with Geno Smith and then all can take advantage of the Raiders' 24th-ranked pass defense together at home on Sunday. We can only hope.

"Inside the Jets"

Tonight's "Inside the Jets," with Larry Hardesty hosting and Matt Simms and Kyle Wilson making guest appearances, will run from 7-8 p.m. ET at Grasshopper Off The Green in Morristown, NJ, and will be streamed live on ESPN New York 98.7FM's Website. The show will then air on ESPN New York 98.7FM after the Rangers game.

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