Sunday Morning Spotlight: Antonio Cromartie


Jun 7, 2012; Florham Park, NJ, USA; New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie (31) during the New York Jets organized team activities at the Atlantic Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE

In this week’s Sunday Morning Spotlight, we take a look a guy on the defensive side of the ball. He doesn’t always get a lot of attention, as plays on the opposite site of a pretty famous island. He is a very explosive player, but sometimes, the explosiveness backfires on the Jets as he is prone to give up long plays. Spotlight on cornerback Antonio Cromartie.

Born in Tallahassee, Florida, Cromartie was a talented, and versatile athlete at Lincoln High School. In his senior season, he recorded stats on defense as a cornerback, returned punts and kicks for TDs, as well as played running back and wide receiver as well. This earned him the USA Today Defensive Player of the Year honors in 2002. He was a four star recruit, and ranked 6th in cornerback prospects in the nation.

At Florida State, Antonio showed explosive potential as a nickelback and kick returner during his first two seasons in college. Unfortunately, he tore his left ACL in workouts prior to his junior year, causing him to miss the whole year. He left school early and entered the NFL draft.

Despite missing a full season, Cromartie had an excellent pro day showing, and rode that to being drafted 19th overall in the 2006 NFL draft by the San Diego Chargers.

After limited action in 2006, Antonio started half of the games at cornerback for the Chargers in 2007. That year, he was credited with the longest play in NFL history, returning a missed field goal by Ryan Longwell 109 yards for a TD. He picked off a team record 10 passes that year, and 2 more in the post season. He was one of three cornerbacks elected to the Pro Bowl in 2007, and picked off two passes in the game.

His performance tailed off the next two seasons, as Cromartie only intercepted 5 passes over those two seasons. The Chargers began to question his effort, especially the playoff game against the Jets. Ironically, a play against the Jets, played a big role in Cromartie coming to the Jets. Remember this play, where Shonn Greene blew past him for the TD? Watch and smile:

Antonio was traded to the Jets in March of 2010 in return for a third round draft pick, which could conditionally have become a second round pick depending upon performance. In 2010, Cromartie was inconsistent, with 3 INTs, and 7 TDs given up. He did set the Jets up for the late win against the Colts in the Wild Card game, with a huge kickoff return. Take a look at some highlights from that season, with the return at the end of the package:

The Jets resigned Antonio Cromartie to a contract in 2011 after an unsuccessful pursuit of Nhamdi Asomugha. In the home opener, he gave up two TDs, one to Dez Bryant and the other to Miles Austin. The next week he picked off two passes and was AFC defensive player of the week. He finished 2011 with 4 INTs.

He has 12 children, with several women, here is the clip of him trying to remember all the names, during an interview segment from Hard Knocks”

A little humor there aside, he is essential to a return to the playoffs for the Jets. We have discussed this before, but in order for the 46 defense, which the Jets will employ a lot, puts the cornerbacks under a microscope. They are out on an island, no pun intended. They need to be shut down corners, plaine and simple. We have one side covered, with Mr. Revis. If Cromartie gives up big plays, the defense will be beatable.

Antonio Cromartie needs to be consistent, period. If he is, the defense will do great things. If not, the Jets may have some problems down the field.