First of all I want to make a disclaimer. We can't go into the season with this crop of corners and safeties, we just can't. So I am very much in favour of taking a chance on Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. As the best corner left on the market, he represents a significant upgrade over what we currently have. We shouldn't throw a blank cheque his way, but if we can nab him for around $8 million a season with reasonable guaranteed money, then I'll be happy. So I just wanted to get that clear first.
However, I think this represents a case of buyer beware. He talked about retirement but was apparently misquoted and backed off those claims quickly. It's not about that, I'm sure it will be mentioned when he sits down with Rex and John this evening, but that doesn't bother me too much. We all say things that are taken our of context or that we wish we had kept to ourselves.
My problem comes with 2013 being his first really good year in the NFL. I watched him last season several times for Denver and thought he was fantastic. He blanketed his man and he played some physical man-to-man pressure defense and with Rex utilising that system here in New York, watching him in 2013 gets me excited about the possible capture. He allowed 4 touchdowns, the same as Revis and half as many as Vontae Davis. He had 10 pass defences and allowed just a 44.1% completion percentage into his coverage. That's a #1 corner if I've ever seen one. Add 3 interceptions in there and now we are cooking.
However before that, he laboured through two very uneventful years in Arizona. In 2012 he was penalised a whopping 11 times, and allowed 645 yards, 5 touchdowns and 56.8% completion percentage into his coverage. I saw him a lot and he got beat a lot, on deep patterns on short patterns and the big red flag for me, his effort seemed to be very low. You can also add 11 missed tackles to the list and you can see why outlets like PFF had him ranked as the 98th best cornerback in the league.
In 2011 he played mostly as a nickel back, although he kept his yards down and isn't credited with giving up a touchdown, he still had 7 missed tackles in just over 400 snaps. In comparison as a top CB, you are expected to play over 1000 of your teams snaps.
It's no surprise he was sent to Philadelphia when you look at his 2010 numbers, trust me, they are not pretty. Rated 100 out of the top 100 cornerbacks in the league. DRC allowed 814 yards, 270 after the catch, 62.2% completion percentage, 4 touchdowns, was penalised 8 times and missed 12 tackles. Truly it was a horror show.
In 2009 he was a ball-hawk, bringing in 6 interceptions and he was named as a reserve to the Pro Bowl. However that can't mask some of the problems he had. He gave up 6 touchdowns, allowed 781 yards, 310 yards after the catch, However in 2009 he was still young, he was a risk/reward type guy. He'd get his hands in on a lot of passes, creating a lot of pass defenses and turnovers but also allowing a lot of players to get in behind and score.
I'm not saying that DRC is a bad player, but I am saying he is a Jekyll & Hyde character. I've seen it with my own eyes. At points he will look like the best player on the field, he's fast and athletic and he makes plays on the football that you don't think are possible. However there is the other side to him, the 2012 and 2010 side, where he will allow a lot of completions and a lot of yards, get called for a lot of penalties and miss a lot of tackle.
We need to be comfortable knowing what we will get. If you are going to trust anyone to get the best out of a player, then you are going to trust Rex to do it. Sometimes corners take time to adapt to the league, maybe 2013 will be the norm from now. However just as easily, it could be a mirage. 2013 could be the odd man out, and he could revert to the form that saw Arizona give up on their first round selection after just three seasons.
It really is a case of buyer beware, but call me crazy.....I still want him!