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Do We Appreciate Our Cornerbacks Enough?

The New York Jets secondary is playing lights out right now. Let's take a moment to consider the facts.

Rick Stewart

After Darrelle Revis went down for the season with a torn ACL injury, Antonio Cromartie proclaimed himself the best cornerback in the league. He was quickly met with laughter and derision, for good reason. Cromartie has been, throughout his career, infuriatingly inconsistent. He is, in my mind, one of the best pure athletes in the NFL, alongside Percy Harvin and Jason Pierre-Paul.

With Revis, the New York Jets have been spoiled by such incredible cornerback play that others are unfairly judged. Cromartie and Kyle Wilson are prime examples. Quarterbacks are forced to target them more than they probably otherwise would, simply because they cannot throw the ball near Revis, which makes them look worse than they are.

Last year, Revis allowed only 41.1% completions on all targets. At this moment, Cromartie is allowing just 39% completions on all targets, by far the league leader. Think about that for a moment. Our number one corner, the best in the league and arguably of all time, has gone down, and his replacement is allowing 1.2% less completions nearly halfway through the season. In addition, he has three interceptions, and probably should have at least one more. In Revis' best year, 2009, when he should have won defensive player of the year, Revis was allowing just 36.9% completion percentage. In contrast, Champ Bailey, one of the better cornerbacks in the league, is currently allowing a 52.5% completion average.

Our new number two, Wilson, is only allowing 51.4% thus making him the 17th best cornerback in the league based on completions allowed. Better than Champ Bailey. Consider that there are 64 starting cornerbacks, and the Jets have three in the top 20. People LOVE to give Wilson a hard time and say that he’s garbage. But why? The reason is because they’re putting Wilson on an impossible pedestal by comparing him, consciously or not, to the two best cornerbacks in the league. So when we see Wilson talking smack to the opposing receivers or wildly celebrating after close coverage, keep this in mind.

Both of our top cornerbacks are playing phenomenal football right now, and both have stepped up incredibly since Revis was lost against the Miami Dolphins in week three. Why do you think Tom Brady and the best offense in the league was only able to put up 20 points (excluding the nine from offense and special teams) on our defense, even without Revis? While a lot of credit has to go to Rex Ryan for re-discovering his creative genius and being extremely clever in his formations and plays, our secondary is simply playing lights out without their leader, and I, for one, do not believe they are currently receiving enough credit. Now, when Cromartie says that he's the best cornerback in the league, it's time to start paying attention.