Antonio Cromartie was a very promising cornerback in his first few seasons with the San Diego Chargers. He even had a 10 interception season in his second year, kick starting his ascent to the upper echelon of the NFL cornerback rankings. So when he moved to New York in 2010 to join the Jets, who already had Darrelle Revis at the other cornerback position, it was assumed there would be more of the same in new, improved surroundings.
That was most definitely the case.
For the rest of this article, I will be referring to Football Outsiders’ statistics to show how these two cornerbacks played with, and without each other, to show the effect they had on each other. Be sure to check FO out at their website by clicking here (after you’re done with this article!).
In 2009, the year before Cromartie made his move to the Big Apple, Darrelle Revis was the best corner in the NFL in terms of success rate (a statistic which measures how often the defensive player is able to stop the offense from gaining a successful amount of yards on the given play). That’s because he gave up an adjusted 3.5 yards per passing play as a corner.
That’s absolutely bonkers, folks. Every QB, from Tom Brady to Peyton Manning to whoever else you can think of was able to gain, on average, 3.5 yards against Revis. (adjusted using FO’s forumlas about how important yards are, reducing the importance of yards gained in garbage time, or on 3rd and long not resulting in a first down, for instance).
Somehow, Revis was still highly targeted that season, seeing the ball thrown his way almost 100 times. Cromartie was brought in to lock down the other cornerback position, and provide Revis with some help. Cromartie had never finished better than 40th in his seasons in San Diego in success rate. He was out on an island, and since he’s not Revis, he was unable to shut down his man often enough to rank highly in this category.
His first year with Revis? His success rate went from 48% to 65%, improving from ranking 57th the year before to being sixth in his first year across from Darrelle. And he didn’t rank highly because teams were beating Revis, because Revis ranked second. In other words, teams weren’t passing on the Jets in 2010.
How does this impact Eric Wright? Wright has proven he’s a capable NFL corner, and he has all the talents he needs to succeed. However, he showed last year that he struggles with weak safety help, and isn’t a lock down corner on opposing teams’ best wideouts. That all changes with Revis Island in Tampa Bay. Revis covers one-third to one-half of the field on his own, allowing Dashon Goldson and the rest of the defense to support Eric Wright. That means Wright can be aggressive if the situation dictates, and make plays on the football. In fact, to continue to compare to Cromartie, Antonio almost doubled his passes defended in his first year with Revis, and also increased his penalties. He played more aggressively, because he knew one side of the field was locked down, and he had deep help behind him focused on supporting his efforts at covering the number two receiver.
Cromartie was the 4th most targeted corner in his successful 2010 campaign, and that will be the case with Wright in 2011. He’ll be actively involved in the defense, and going into a contract year, Wright is going to be hungry and motivated. And much like Antonio Cromartie, he may find himself basking in the sun that shines from Revis Island and enjoying a career year.