Thursday September 22nd, 2011

Antonio Cromartie is a ballhawk, but does that make him better than Nnamdi Asomugha? (Landov)

When Antonio Cromartie said that his style of play is "totally different" from Nnamdi Asomugha's, he was definitely onto something. But Cromartie's assertion that he's "more of a playmaker" than Asomugha? That's going to depend on what your definition of "playmaker" is.

Comparing Cromartie and Asomugha is pretty difficult. In reality, Asomugha's game is more like Darrelle Revis' -- a shutdown style of play designed to make quarterbacks throw the ball elsewhere on the field.

Cromartie doesn't necessarily play like that, instead almost inviting QBs to challenge him.

The results show up, both positively and negatively.

Cromartie had two interceptions Sunday against the Jaguars. That's as many INTs as Asomugha had in his last three seasons with the Raiders (he has one so far this year with Philly). Over a nine-year NFL career (including this season), Asomugha's picked off 12 passes; in six seasons, Cromartie has 20 interceptions. By that measure alone, you could back Cromartie's claim.

It doesn't necessarily tell the whole story, though. Cromartie, for example, committed more penalties than any Jets defender last season and allowed a team-high seven TD passes to be completed against him. In contrast, Asomugha allowed 13 completions against him, period, all of 2010.

Playing opposite Revis, Cromartie's bound to see a lot more passes coming his way. His history shows that often he'll make a solid play in those cases -- but also that he can be beaten. The Cowboys, in fact, picked on Cromartie in the opener, with Tony Romo's day coming unhinged late when he tried to find a hobbled Dez Bryant matched up against Revis.

You'll almost never see a team designing its game plan to go at Asomugha, just like teams don't often test Revis. But, as Cromartie said, his game is different. He's like the NFL's version of a swing-for-the-fences player in baseball. Sure, he's going to whiff from time to time, but he'll also deliver some key home runs. That's been Cromartie's M.O. for his entire career, so weighing his impact next to Asomugha's can get a little tricky.

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