Joe McKnight: Speedster's Move to Cornerback Proves Jets' Desperation

Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 26, 2012

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - NOVEMBER 27:  Joe McKnight #25 of the New York Jets in action against the Buffalo Bills during their game on November 27, 2011 at  MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Al Bello/Getty Images

When the news broke that superstar cornerback Darrelle Revis would miss the rest of the 2012 season with a torn ACL, it became apparent that a massive overhaul was coming for the New York Jets' defense.

According to the New York Daily News' Manish Mehta, the team's first move in the post-Revis era will be moving running back Joe McKnight into an increased role at cornerback going forward.

Here is head coach Rex Ryan speaking about the move to Mehta:

He’s a guy that we saw on scout team when he was a rookie. He has the necessary skills to be able to play corner. He’s got the speed, the size, the athleticism, the ball skills. Everything you look for in a corner. So, I don’t think there’s any reason not to think that Joe McKnight couldn’t be a corner.

It’s just going to take time, obviously. But I think with (defensive backs coach) Dennis Thurman and (assistant defensive backs coach) Jimmy O’Neil over there, I think we got great teachers of the game. It’ll be interesting. I would not bet against Joe McKnight becoming a good corner.

While McKnight is almost a prototype for cornerback and has played the position in high school, this move quite frankly seems like little more than a desperate ploy and an "I think I'm smarter than I really am" coaching decision from Ryan.

When reading this story, many will point out the New England Patriots' use of Julian Edelman, and more famously Troy Brown, at the cornerback spot in previous years. While both worked into the defense admirably and Bill Belichick got credit for making the move, it was no less desperate than what the Jets are doing now.

There is, however, one huge difference that makes the Jets' move more inexplicable.

Belichick switched Edelman and Brown late in the season—not before Week 4. Where the New England coach's hands were essentially tied, Ryan has plenty of time to sign a veteran cornerback and teach him the system.

And it's not as if there is a dearth of cornerbacks available on the free-agent market. Most notable among those available players are Bryant McFadden and Kelly Jennings, two veterans who, while not top-tier players, can easily fit in at the nickel for the rest of the season.

More importantly, neither player has to be re-taught how to play the position. 

What's more, the Jets are taking McKnight away from a glaring weak spot at running back. While the former USC star was failing to receive much play offensively, it's not as if Bilal Powell or Shonn Greene are exactly untouchables. 

There was a time where moving McKnight to corner would have been viewed as another cute eccentricity from Ryan and his coaching staff. Now, it's simply another circus act in the city that hosts Tebowmania. 

The Jets may be 2-1 now, but with moves like this, don't expect the winning ways to continue going forward.