Antonio Cromartie, the No. 1 cornerback on the Jets, has a difficult assignment in Cincinnati this afternoon: AJ Green of the Bengals. Green is already one of the Top 5 WRs in the NFL, and in just his second year in the NFL last season, the former Georgia star caught 97 passes for 1,350 yards and 11 TDs.
In the last two weeks, Green has torched the Bills and Lions for 12 catches, 258 yards and two TDs.
Expect Cromartie to struggle – according to Pro Football Focus, he’s the 108th-rated corner in the NFL. Only Courtland Finnegan of the Rams is worse. To the untrained eye, Cromartie hasn’t been awful – just not great. It’s not like he’s been torched multiple times each week. He hasn’t been benched, like Finnegan. So how did he get such a low rating? Read this, from the Pro Football Focus blog:
Let’s start with the penalties. Cromartie has four on the season all of which have been pass interference calls. None of these plays will show up in the coverage stats, but they’re all accounted for in the grading. The next area is missed tackles, particularly those that occur in “help” coverage rather than the cornerback having primary responsibility. All five of Cromartie’s missed tackles have come in his primary coverage so they’re all reflected in the stats (though teammates’ ability to clean up after missed tackles affects these stats greatly), while Milliner’s only missed tackle came in help coverage so the resulting yards won’t show up in his stats.
The biggest area where both cornerbacks have benefited, however, is from offensive errors. Whether poor throws or dropped passes, both Cromartie and Milliner have been quite lucky at times when their coverage has not been up to par, but the offense has been unable to capitalize. Week 2 against the New England Patriots is a prime example as Cromartie was torched on two deep routes but QB Tom Brady missed on his throws, while Milliner was beaten on a double move by WR Aaron Dobson, but the rookie wide receiver dropped the pass on what should have been an 84-yard touchdown. Again, while those plays don’t show up in the stats, the poor coverage is always noted in the grades, and Cromartie and Milliner have both benefited statistically from poor offensive execution, often times due to pressure from their defensive line.
If you’re not a PFF subscriber, the #1 rated corner is Darrelle Revis of the Bucs. Richard Sherman of the Seahawks is 7th.