Once Darrelle Revis was lost for the season, Antonio Cromartie became the Jets best cornerback by default.
But a conversation with Revis prior to the injury convinced Cromartie he needed to grow up anyway.
“It shouldn’t have taken for Revis to go down for me to be playing at a very high level,” Cromartie said, via Newsday’s Bob Glauber. “There’s something I think I took for granted having Revis on the other side and not being able to play at a high level when he was here.”
The two talked about leadership and responsibility, a conversation Cromartie said he needed to hear.
“Hearing it from your peers, you take more out of that than hearing it from your coach,” Cromartie said. “Your peers expect so much out of you and expect you to play at a higher level, especially when he’s one of the best corners in the league.”
The difference was immediate, as Cromartie allowed just one catch against the Dolphins the day Revis blew out his knee, and has continued to play well, with three interceptions.
“I think the biggest thing that’s changed for me is the leadership role,” Cromartie said. “Just making sure everyone was on top of everything, helping guys study film and knowing how to study film. I think I just took on a role that once [Revis] left, and I wanted to make sure I played at a higher level every single week.”
It’s a shame it took such a drastic development to get Cromartie’s attention, but the fact he’s acknowledging it now, and staying out of some of the silly trash-talking he used to get bogged down in, is at least a sign he’s growing up.