Rich Cimini | ESPN.com
FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The New York Jets are down, but not out of things to say.
Cornerback Antonio Cromartie, looking ahead to their rematch against the Miami Dolphins, said Thursday the Jets were a superior team than the Dolphins four weeks ago even though they were embarrassed, 23-3. And he doesn’t feel like anything has changed.
The Dolphins (8-7) are one game ahead of the Jets and still have a chance to make the playoffs. The Jets were eliminated before last week’s game.
“I felt like we were the better team then,” Cromartie said. “Do I feel like we’re a better team now? Yeah, we’re running the ball better and we’re playing the pass a whole lot better. I think the biggest thing for us is to put it all together and win a game on the road.”
Cromartie also said he relishes the idea of crushing the Dolphins’ playoff hopes.
“This is our last game of the year,” he said. “We want to make sure it’s their last game, too.”
The Jets are closing out their third consecutive season out of the playoffs, a drought that could get coach Rex Ryan fired, but they’re trying to create various forms of motivation. They can finish .500, they can win on the road for only the second time and they can wreck a divisional rival’s season.
“It’s pretty much our Super Bowl,” quarterback Geno Smith said.
Smith hit his personal lowpoint in the Dec. 1 matchup against the Dolphins. He was benched at halftime after completing only four of 10 passes for 29 yards and an interception. The Jets were outgained by a mind-boggling margin, 453-177, in what was their third straight defeat.
“We didn’t come to play,” guard Willie Colon said.
Ryan, raising the stakes for the rematch, said Sunday will show how much the team has improved since the Miami meltdown. The outcome could be critical for Ryan — if upper management hasn’t made a decision on his fate.
“We’re going to measure how much we’ve improved — or have we improved?” Ryan said. “If we have, we’ll all see it.”
Cromartie also addressed his future, saying he will see hip specialists in the offseason to determine whether he will need surgery to repair a season-long issue. He hasn’t missed a game, but he has played through pain at times, falling short of his 2012 Pro Bowl form.
“Hopefully, there’s nothing too serious,” said Cromartie, who believes it’s connected to a fracture he sustained five years ago. “Hopefully, I don’t need to have surgery. If I do, hopefully it’s just a clean-up job, easy to come back from.”
Cromartie’s contract also could be an issue. His cap charge next year, the final year of the deal, is $14.98 million. He said he’d be willing to re-work his contract, but it’s complicated by the fact that only one year remains. They’d have to extend it, which may not be something the Jets want to do for a 30-year-old cornerback with a health concern.
“Definitely, this is where I want to be,” he said. “No matter what you do, your last name is your resume. That’s what I go by. I want to make sure I’m here. My family wants to be here and this is where I want to retire.”
- Longtime Jets beat writer for New York Daily News
- Syracuse University graduate