The Indianapolis Colts were a team many looked at as Super Bowl contenders going into last season. On offense, they had a young quarterback in Andrew Luck, an underrated star in wide receiver TY Hilton and two talented tight ends. Add to that the veteran presence of free agent wide receiver Andre Johnson and running back Frank Gore and the mixture seemed to be perfect. And on defense, you had a good mixture of youth and veteran experience. It seemed like all the pieces were there. But then the season happened. Luck wasn't the same as he was previous years, Andre Johnson was looking a little long in the tooth and the defense was not necessarily stopping anyone. The Colts finished outside the playoffs and ended the season with an injured Andrew Luck. Going into this season, the expectations are up and the team seems to be in a better place. Luck is trying to redeem himself, Andre Johnson has moved on and the defense is focused on trying to improve. But unfortunately for them, the cornerbacks have faced some injuries. And recently, they just got hit with a huge blow. Cornerback Vontae Davis will be out at least until October with ligament damage in his ankle. And just like that, the Colts best corner is out for a while. There was some speculation as to what they might do to replace him, but that speculation is no more, as they have signed a veteran to help them out.
Veteran cornerback Antonio Cromartie was released after last season by the New York Jets. And it seems like there has been little to no market for him. But when the Colts knew they were going to be without their best corner for some time, they called up Cromartie to see if he was interested. The interest was returned and Cromartie is now the newest member of the Indianapolis Colts. Cromartie will be an instant starter for them. Lining him up on the outside is very ideal for him. He can use his length to disturb wide receivers, throwing their routes off course. But along with that, Cromartie has ball skills. People forget the way he used to show out for the San Diego Chargers back when he was first making a name for himself in the NFL, intercepting passes and also making special teams plays. At one point, he was a corner that people stayed away from. And when that happened, he helped out the rest of the defense and gave them less ground to cover.
But what most need to realize is that Cromartie is not the same corner he once was anymore. Gone are the days where he locked down one side of the field. He is a solid corner, but he can be beaten at times because of his size. Cromartie does not move as well as he once did. When he faces receivers that have quick changes in direction, he can often get lost. And that ends with receivers running open on the field. Along with him not being as quick to flip his hips and keep up with speedy wide receivers, he is also not the most physical cornerback. To be a 6'2" corner, he has been known to whiff when having to tackle running backs in or elusive wide receivers in the open field. So while Cromartie has played well over his career, he is not exactly the guy he once was. And that is understandable with the length of time he has been around.
The challenge for the Colts is to put Cromartie in positions to succeed. And with that the Colts like to do, he will have his chances to make some things happen. But if they think they are getting a man-to-man corner that can follow someone across the field, then they are sadly mistaken. Cromartie can still play a mixture of man and zone coverages, but he will be embarrassed if he has to play man coverage all day. It should be interesting to see what happens as he gets acclimated to the Colts defense. And with a limited pass rush in Indy, he is definitely going to get a workout in Indy.