Antonio Cromartie #31 of the New York Jets in action...

Antonio Cromartie #31 of the New York Jets in action against the Jacksonville Jaguars. (Sept. 18, 2011) Credit: Jim McIsaac

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. -- Mike Pettine can't explain it either.

The Jets' defensive coordinator was at a loss for words Thursdayin trying to break down exactly why cornerback Antonio Cromartie's play has been so wildly inconsistent. One game he can be a penalty machine, the next he's picking off Tom Brady in the red zone.

"It could be a horoscope thing," Pettine said. "I'm at a loss. I think we are all searching for that answer."

In fact, he seems to always be searching for it on game days, too. "I'll usually ask Dennis Thurman on the headset," Pettine said, referring to the Jets' defensive backs coach, " 'Which Cro do we have today? The good Cro or the bad Cro?' "

Pettine said Cromartie's roller-coaster play can be maddening. "It's frustrating," he said, "but I think we also have to have the ability as a staff not to just rely on him so much that the plans are built around him, that if he's not playing well, then we're not going to play well. We've learned that you almost have to have some calls in mind where if things aren't going well on his side of the field, that we need to protect him a little bit more."


Schotty: No big dea

Cromartie and LaDainian Tomlinson aren't the only ones who will be facing their former team when the Chargers visit on Sunday. Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer was San Diego's quarterbacks coach from 2002-05 when his father, Marty Schottenheimer, was the team's head coach.

But Brian Schottenheimer says he's not any more excited to face the Chargers, who fired his father in 2007 and replaced him with Norv Turner. "No," he said, "it's just a game."


Mangold sits out againNick Mangold didn't practice for a second straight day, working with the training staff as he continues to overcome his ankle sprain. Rex Ryan expects the center to play Sunday.

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