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Merril Hoge on D&C: Antonio Cromartie ‘fundamentally struggles as a player’

01.13.11 at 8:17 am ET
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Merril Hoge

ESPN NFL analyst Merril Hoge joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the Patriots-Jets playoff matchup. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Discussing the trash talk emanating from Jets camp and whether it will serve as motivation for the Patriots, Hoge said: “I do believe it matters. … From a personal experience, and having that being done on the other side of the field, you bet. You bet your backside it motivated me, even to a higher level. And it does make a difference, and it does factor in the game, without a question.”

Hoge implied Antonio Cromartie might want to spend more time focusing on improving his own game rather than worrying about opposing players. “The thing about Cromartie is, as athletically gifted as he is, he fundamentally struggles as a player. You watch him,” Hoge said. “I think one of the keys in this game is they’ve got to play a lot of press man coverage. They’ve got to line up against these guys and press the wide receivers at the line of scrimmage. You’ve got to use your hands. You watch Cromartie. Every time he does that, his hands are on his side, he drops them down at the snap, his feet go flat. And that’s why he gets beat so much. That’s why people attack him. Yeah, he’s a gifted athlete, but he’s not a great cover guy because he’s not fundamentally sound. He doesn’t have great habits, and people attack him. And the Patriots are going to attack him.”

Hoge said he expects that Jets will do a better job of getting Darrelle Revis more involved in the defensive scheme. In the Patriots’ 45-3 rout last month, Revis was a non-factor, sometimes line up against a tight end as the Patriots appeared to confuse New York. “I think he becomes a chess player in the box,” Hoge said. “I think most of the time he will be in the slot area on somebody, whether it’s [Wes] Welker — they jumped on him a lot, they put him on Welker a lot. But I think he becomes a movable chess piece.

“Let’s say that exact same scenario plays out where they’re on the field, the down and distance, and they line up in a five-wide look, with two tight ends on the field and one back, and they put two wide receivers to the left. You check out of that if you’re the Jets. You’re like: We’re not going to play this coverage. We’re going to go to something else. Then we’ll get Revis on the other side against a wide receiver. We’ll take a linebacker and move him out there if we’ve got to. But I think they counter better from that perspective to help him. They have to. If they don’t, they’re going to get hammered again.”

Turning his attention to Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, Hoge said: “He’s inconsistent, and that’s never a good sign. I think he’s better than what people give him credit for, but he’s inconsistent.”

Read More: antonio cromartie, Darrelle Revis, Mark Sanchez, Merril Hoge Print  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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