Coach Killers, Week 3: Antonio Cromartie
Every week, we’ll take a look at a player or team whose bad performance did the most to raise the stress level of their coach.
Antonio Cromartie's Sunday in Oakland started with a 25-yard pass interference penalty, which helped spark a Raiders' TD drive, and it ended with Cromartie being checked out at a hospital after suffering bruised ribs and lungs.
Suffice it to say, it was not quite the day Cromartie, or the Jets, had in mind.
After being named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his two-interception performance in a Week 2 win over the Jaguars, Cromartie made some headlines by saying in an interview that he's "more of a playmaker" than Nnamdi Asomugha.
But teams don't shy away from throwing at Cromartie like they do Asomugha -- and in fact, quarterbacks have looked Cromartie's direction a lot over the past two seasons, with Darrelle Revis patrolling the opposite side of the field. Oakland went right after Cromartie Sunday, with QB Jason Campbell looking downfield for Denarius Moore on the third play from scrimmage.
The resulting flag against Cromartie was the first of four infractions called against the Jets cornerback. He was late-whistled for a second pass interference penalty and was also flagged twice for defensive holding. All told, Cromartie finished with 46 yards in penalties, just nine yards less than the entire Oakland team had Sunday.
And despite that, Cromartie's worst moment in Oakland came on special teams.
After the Raiders broke a 17-all stalemate with a touchdown drive late in the third quarter, Cromartie muffed the ensuing kickoff. Sebastian Janikowski's kick came down near the goal line and, while trying to run up to catch it, Cromartie managed to swat it forward about 15 yards. When he finally picked it up, the Raiders' coverage team hit him immediately, popping the ball loose.
Oakland recovered the fumble on the Jets 13 and scored a TD two plays later to take a 31-17 lead. The Jets would never get closer than a touchdown after that.
This has kind of been the M.O. for Cromartie throughout his NFL career: He'll make some plays, sure, but the chances he takes also result in some negative outcomes as well. Dallas' Tony Romo smoked Cromartie twice for touchdowns in Week 1, before the veteran corner enjoyed a bounce-back effort against the Jaguars.
There's a good chance we haven't seen the last of the Cromartie rollercoaster this season, either. The Jets play at Baltimore and New England over the next two weeks, both teams with multiple weapons in the pass game. Revis figures to match up with Anquan Boldin in that Ravens game and against either Chad Ochocinco or Deion Branch in New England.
Cromartie, then, will have his hands full with guys like Lee Evans, Torrey Smith (Baltimore's rookie WR, who's coming off a three-TD outburst), Ochocinco or Branch, and possibly even Wes Welker. He'll have plenty of opportunities to prove his worth as a playmaker again. Sunday was another reminder, though, that Cromartie is just as likely to give up some big plays, too.