COMMENTARY | Following the lead of New York Jets' quarterback Mark Sanchez, teammate and cornerback Antonio Cromartie will be hosting an offseason camp for the team's defensive backs in California. In the aftermath of the trade of star cornerback Darrelle Revis, the Jets' secondary has undergone massive changes. If Cromartie is succesful, a degree of defensive team unity and cohesion will be built prior to the preseason.
Jets West Part Two
In recent years, Mark Sanchez has organized an offseason training camp for himself and the other offensive skill-position players, colloquially called "Jets West." The activity is meant to promote team bonding and enforce Sanchez's leadership position.
Apparently learning from this, Antonio Cromartie is setting up a similar camp (according to Kristian Dyer of Metro.us) for defensive backs, that is to say the cornerbacks and safeties. At the camp, players will both live and train together in preparation for the 2013 preseason and regular season.
Cromartie's Career Arc
The career path of Antonio Cromartie has been surprising to say the least since joining the New York Jets in 2010. Now entering his fourth season with the team, he has far exceeded the expectations that had been laid on him.
After a successful year in 2007 with the San Diego Chargers, Cromartie had two consecutive disappointing years, causing the Chargers to decide to get rid of them. He was traded to the Jets, and at that point his career, while his talents were known nationwide, he was not known for his reliability or leadership qualities.
Cromartie immediately made an impact in New York in 2010, helping the team to one of its most successful years in recent history. The Jets went 11-5, defeated their top rival (the New England Patriots) in the playoffs and reached the AFC championship game.
Since then, Cromartie has cemented his role as one of the defensive leaders more and more, wiht this phenomenon coming to a real head after the injury to Revis in Week 3 of the 2012 season. After the 2012 season, Cromartie made his second Pro Bowl (and first as a member of the Jets).
A Unit in Need of Leadership
If Cromartie does in fact become an effective leader for this group of defensive backs, it would be significant for the coming season. When Cromartie first came to New York, safety Jim Leonhard and cornerback Darrelle Revis were the unquestioned leaders of the defensive backs. With both of those players now gone, the Jets are in dire need of a veteran leader in the defensive secondary.
In addition to Revis being traded this offseason, Pro Bowl safety LaRon Landry was allowed to leave in free agency along with safety Yeremiah Bell. Now, Dawan Landry, Josh Bush, Antonio Allen, Ellis Lankster, Isaiah Trufant and Aaron Berry form an army of secondary players who are either new to the team or will be featured more so than they have been in the past. With three out of four starters gone from 2012, Cromartie and head coach Rex Ryan will need to work together to create a cohesive unit.
The defensive secondary has always been a major point of strength for the Jets in the Rex Ryan era. If Cromartie is successful, that streak might not have to end in 2013.
Adam Waksman is a Yahoo! contributor in sports. He also covers the New York Jets for Bleacher Report, where he is a Featured Columnist and award-winning blogger.
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