Conor Orr: Cromartie eager to prove himself vs. Texans' Andre Johnson, elite WRs
Antonio Cromartie rolled the tape this week and saw a nearly perfect performance.
There was Darrelle Revis locked on Andre Johnson back in Week 11 of 2010. Houston Texans QB Matt Schaub tried four times to squeeze the ball past Revis and feed his favorite target but succeeded only once. Cromartie scrolled back a year earlier, to Week 1 of 2009, to find a similar story play out. Johnson had just one catch for seven yards against Revis.
In those moments, Johnson, who had averaged more than 90 yards per game during three different seasons, was a complete nonfactor. Cromartie was eager to see why.
“Just studying,” Cromartie said yesterday. “Trying to pick up on keys and things like that (Johnson) is one of the best receivers in the game. He’s a big, physical receiver that can get in and out of his breaks. He knows how to use his body very well.”
Since Revis was lost for the season when he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in Week 3, he and Cromartie haven’t had much time for conversation. Now, when he needs a pointer, he will look to Revis on film.
Johnson returns on Monday night to give the Jets their first look at an elite deep-threat wide receiver without a Revis to cover him. An elite WR would cause little worry for the team before. Revis earned his reputation for routinely shutting down the best.
So now, Cromartie watches. In the days after Revis’ injury, he claimed he was the best active cornerback in football. He will have a chance to prove it by mimicking what was on that tape.
“It’s not about talking, it’s about doing. He’s gotta go out and he’s gotta perform and be the lead corner we expect him to be,” secondary coach Dennis Thurman said. “If he does that, we feel good about our opportunity.”
The Texans’ zone-blocking scheme offense, which has produced an average of 136.5 rushing yards per game, will give Cromartie plenty of opportunities.
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine said the way running back Arian Foster commands attention, the Jets will be forced to place up to eight men in the box. That will leave the two cornerbacks alone on the outside, with just one safety over top.
Cromartie — who was targeted just three times last Sunday while covering Michael Crabtree and did not allow a single reception — likely will draw Johnson most of the time.
“We’re going to ask a lot,” Pettine said. “We’re going to play our style of defense, and when we’re playing a team that runs the ball like that we’re going to have to be in some single-high defenses.”
Cromartie has played the Texans three times in his career and claims to have never been matched up on Johnson once. Although he relies on the tape of Revis for tendencies, he believes his body type will lend itself more to stopping Johnson’s style.
“Playing against bigger receivers, it matches up very well for me,” Cromartie said. “I can use my length and things like that. I’m really looking forward to it.”
The first time the Jets are confident enough to leave him alone, they’ll see if he learned anything from what he saw on film.
“It’s a big challenge,” Pettine said. “And I think he’s up to it.”