New York Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie rarely turns down the opportunity to speak his mind, whether he's talking trash about Tom Brady or giving his two cents on the NFL Lockout. However, we didn't hear much coming from Cromartie during the abbreviated offseason when it became clear that the Jets' front office coveted Nnamdi Asomugha, who would have replaced him.
A stellar performance on Sunday in the Jets' thorough destruction of the Jacksonville Jaguars seemed to help Cro find his voice. On Wednesday, the confident cornerback told Rich Cimini of ESPNNewYork that he believes he's a more dynamic player than Asomugha.
"My style of play and his style of play are totally different," Cromartie said. "I feel I'm more of a playmaker than he is."
Considering that Cromartie had two interceptions in the Jets' Week 2 win over the Jaguars -- who were, admittedly, starting Luke McCown at quarterback -- contributed in the return game and even got his hands on the ball on offense it's possible that he has a point. That point, though, is highly dependent on the word choice in that quote.
To his credit, Cromartie never claims to be better in one-on-one coverage. Rather, he claims to be "more of a playmaker." Before we lampoon the former first-round pick for his hubris, it's worth noting that distinction. Of course, it's also worth noting, as Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk does, that Cromartie's opportunities for making big plays may have something to do with the other cornerback playing across the field from him: Darrelle Revis.
It would seem that Cromartie prides himself on making plays whereas someone like Asomugha -- and, perhaps, Revis -- prides himself on stopping them. Undoubtedly, Cromartie would point out that he has 20 career interceptions in his first five seasons and two games in the NFL while Aso has just 12 over eight seasons plus two games. The discrepancy is largely a factor of the reality that teams just don't throw at Asomugha because they know how good he is. Same for Revis. Conversely, teams do throw at Cromartie because they think that they can beat him. While he can make them pay from time to time, and is explosive once he gets the ball in his hands, a quick look at the film from the Jets' Week 1 game against the Cowboys shows that he can also be exposed in single coverage.
Clearly, the Jets cast their vote as to who is the better overall player over the summer. They wanted Asomugha and had plans to let Cromartie walk. The ex-Charger knew it and was even considering going to Asomugha's former team, the Raiders. According to the New York Post, Oakland made a huge offer and owner Al Davis "personally made a plea" to Cromartie.
Given his athleticism and his big-play capabilities, Cromartie still gives the Jets arguably the best cornerback tandem in the NFL. But it's going to take a few more interceptions and kickoff returns to convince folks that he's more valuable than Asomugha.