Jets’ Cromartie and Revis a Rare Pair- NY Times
March 22, 2010, 8:00 am
Jets’ Cromartie and Revis a Rare Pair. Here’s How Rare.
By CHASE STUART
Chase Stuart writes for the Pro-Football-Reference.com blog.
In 2007, 23-year-old Antonio Cromartie led the league in interceptions for the San Diego Chargers. Three of Cromartie’s ten interceptions that season came in a memorable 23-21 victory over Peyton Manning and the Colts. Cromartie picked off two more passes in the playoffs that season, capping a fantastic season. He was named to the Associated Press first team as a cornerback.
In 2009, 24-year-old Darrelle Revis helped lead the Jets to a No. 1 ranking in nearly all of the major defensive categories. The Jets’ phenomenal pass defense was led by Revis, the USA Today defensive player of the year. Revis was named to the A.P. first team.
Barring injury or an unforeseen development, the Jets’ starting corners in 2010 will be Revis and Cromartie. That will give the Jets’ secondary two players — both of whom are 26 or younger — who have been selected as first-team All-Pros by The Associated Press. Only three other teams since the A.F.L./N.F.L. merger have boasted two such starters — 26 or younger — at the same position:
1984-1985 Washington Redskins
In 1983, the Redskins set an N.F.L. record for points scored in a season. QB Joe Theismann won N.F.L. M.V.P. honors and RB John Riggins broke the rushing touchdown record. Much of Washington’s success on offense was due to their dominant offensive linemen, collectively nicknamed the Hogs. Left tackle Joe Jacoby and left guard Russ Grimm were named to the A.P. first team, and both were just 24 years old. Jacoby and Grimm anchored the Redskin line for most of the next decade, helping Washington win a second Super Bowl (they had been less heralded starters on Washington’s championship team in ‘82) in 1987. Jacoby was still a starter, then at right tackle, on the ‘91 Redskins team that won the franchise’s third Super Bowl. Grimm’s dominant career earned him the N.F.L.’s highest honor: he will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer.
1982 Green Bay Packers
John Jefferson was drafted by Don Coryell and the Chargers in 1978, and provided immediate dividends. He topped 1,000 yards and led the league in receiving touchdowns as a rookie. In 1979, Jefferson again hit the 1,000-yard mark and had double-digit touchdowns, and was named a first-team All-Pro by The A.P. The following season, Jefferson continued to dominate as a member of the Chargers’ famed Air Coryell offense, leading the N.F.L. in receiving yards and receiving scores, while being named to the A.P.’s first-team All-Pro roster for the second year in a row. Jefferson and Randy Moss are the only receivers in N.F.L. history to top 1,000 yards and 10 touchdowns in each of their first three seasons.
A contract dispute with the Chargers after the 1980 season led to a blockbuster series of trades; Green Bay acquired Jefferson and swapped 1982 first-round picks with the Chargers, while San Diego received a 1982 2nd-round pick, a 1983 1st rounder, a 1984 2nd-round selection and WR Aundra Thompson. Less than two weeks later, the Chargers traded Thompson, a 1982 1st-round pick and a 3rd rounder to New Orleans for Wes Chandler.
In 1981, Chandler’s first season in Green Bay, James Lofton posted his second straight 70-catch, 1,200-yard season for the Packers. He ranked second in the league in receiving yards while finishing in the top ten in both receptions and receiving touchdowns. He was a unanimous choice as a first-team All-Pro by all the major sources that season, including The A.P.
The Packers entered the ‘82 season with Lofton and Jefferson as their starting wideouts, both 26, and both having achieved a significant amount of success. In the strike-shortened season, Lofton finished in the top five in receiving yards. Jefferson had worse numbers, but exploded with 6 catches for 148 yards and 2 scores in the Packers’ first-round playoff victory over the Cardinals. The following week, Lofton totaled 180 yards and 2 touchdowns in a close loss to the Cowboys. That set the stage for 1983, when QB Lynn Dickey set the still-standing single-season Packers passing record, 4,458 yards. Lofton was the man on the receiving end of 1,300 of those yards; he continued to excel for another decade, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2003. Chandler’s career path took a much different turn: in ‘83 he had a solid but unspectacular season for the Packers, and he was out of the league by 1986.
1976 Buffalo Bills
In 1973, O.J. Simpson became the first player to rush for 2,000 yards in a season. His left guard, 23-year-old Reggie McKenzie, was named first-team All-Pro by The A.P. after the season. Two years later, Simpson arguably topped himself, setting league records in yards from scrimmage (2,243) and total touchdowns (23). Right guard Joe DeLamielleure, a 23-year-old former first round pick, was named a first-team A.P. All-Pro in 1975 after paving the way for Simpson’s success. As a result, the Bills entered the ‘76 season with two guards, both 26 years old or younger, who had already been judged to be among the N.F.L.’s elite.
Although the Bills ranked in the top three in both rushing yards and yards per carry that season, the Bills were awful everywhere else, finishing in the bottom quarter of the league in net yards per pass attempt, net yards per pass attempt allowed, and yards per rush allowed. By ‘77, Simpson had worn down and Buffalo no longer had a dominant rushing offense. McKenzie enjoyed a 13-year career, finishing up in Seattle; DeLamielleure also played for 13 seasons, and wound up in Canton.
(Note: If you want to get loose with the position designations, and group receivers and tight ends together, the 1973 San Francisco 49ers would also fit the criteria. WR Gene A. Washington and TE Ted Kwalick were A.P. first-teamers in 1972, at age 25, and returned to the 49ers in 1973.)