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When the Jets traded for Antonio Cromartie this off-season, it was a relatively controversial deal. Cromartie had floundered the past two seasons after putting together an All-Pro 2007 campaign and Jets fans saw close up in the playoffs last year what type of effort he was capable of putting forward on the field.
Nobody could question Cromartie’s raw physical skills. He might be the most gifted athlete on the Jets roster. Yet, the real question was whether he could keep his head in the game and thrive in Rex Ryan’s aggressive man to man system, which would seem to play to his physical strenghts.
Cromartie got off to a questionable start in 2010 for the Jets. He was flagged three times in the Jets opening Monday Night loss for illegal contact or pass interference and was routinely beat by Anquan Boldin. Week 2 didn’t start off much better when he was beat by Wes Welker for a 2nd quarter touchdown. However, the switch was flipped in the second half of the New England game and since then, Cromartie has been playing at a Pro-Bowl caliber level.
He rallied the defensive backs at halftime of the Jets/Patriots game to step up after Darrelle Revis suffered an injury. He then backed up his words by shutting down Randy Moss in the second half and pulling in an interception. Brandon Marshall did put together a big game on him the following week, but Cromartie bounced back by completely shutting down Lee Evans and then putting together another solid performance on Moss. Against Denver, Brandon Lloyd came into the game leading the NFL in receiving yards but Cromartie kept him to 74 yards, no scores, and without any game changing plays.
Cromartie is never going to be the shut down corner Revis was in 2009. He gets beat occasionally and is flagged more than you’d like to see. However, he has stepped up in the absence of Revis Island (which has yet to surface in 2010) and provided stability in a Jets secondary that has dealt with its share of injuries and juggled line-ups. As Revis gets back to 100 percent, I would expect ‘Cro to bag a few more interceptions in 2010 and make a strong case to be a Pro-Bowler. Considering the struggles of Kyle Wilson, Cromartie is making very hard for the Jets not to bring him back in 2011.