The notion that Cromartie was traded because of poor play is largely a myth. From a pure coverage perspective, 2009 was most likely Cromartie's best season. I think a lot of people thinking he's been garbage lately are going off his 2008 season (which, by the way, he played through with a fractured hip) and a low interception number. He's excellent in man coverage, though currently a bit of a liability in zone, though he showed improvement and started to rekindle hope that he could one day be a shut down corner.
I don't think you'll find that many Charger fans unhappy with Cromartie for his coverage skills. By far the biggest weakness was his seemingly complete unwillingness to make contact with players (Shonn Greene's playoff run was by no means the first time that sort of thing happened). In terms of coverage, Cromartie was actually pretty decent, especially when he as able to play man, though it's true that Ron Rivera likes his zone.
The plain fact of the matter is that since his big season, he has not only declined, but declined to the point that QBs really actively go after him because they know that they can beat him without much trouble. Could Rex Ryan help him and turn him around? Perhaps...but I wouldn't be overly optimistic about that...there's a reason the Chargers were quite eager to get rid of him.
This isn't true on a couple of levels. Firstly, like I mentioned above I think you have 2008 etched into your mind. Erase that. I, personally, can not remember too many times when Cromartie was targeted and abused often. Two big plays that stick out is Week 1 @ Oakland for Murhpy's TD (which was most probably Clinton Hart's fault, who was then cut soon after) and Week 15 vs Cincinatti for OchoCinco's TD (who was probably on a pretty big adrenaline high given this was the game after Chris Henry's death).
The secondary was probably the lone bright spot (bar Strong Safety, though Ellison shows promise) of the defense last year. My lasting memories of the 2009 SD defense are:
- Poor run defense caused by a below par DLine, which slwy got better as the season wore on
- Lack of pressure
- Teams not going after our CBs
- Emergence of Brandon Siler and Kevin Ellison
- Contineud improvement of Eric Weddle
The 3rd one is a distinct memory I have. Whether or not that says more about other holes in our D than the quality of our CBs (of which Jammer is the #1 btw, not Cromartie) is arguable, but DVOA stats suggest performance against WRs was about average
. If one of our CBs was that bad to get abused on a weekly basis, I would think those stats would be a lot worse. Also consult this chart
The reasons the Chargers traded Cromartie had little to do with this performance. These were the main factors:
- Character issues.
- A former 1st round pick (Antoine Cason), who they are high on and believed was ready to start
- 2010 was the last year of Cromartie's contract.
Cromartie was a headache for the front office, who was expendable as the depth behind him was perceived as adequate to replace him. Jammer is a very solid and consistant player. Chargers beleived that had 3 talented CBs that could start and did not want to spend money on resigning Cromartie to have one of them sit on the bench or play nickel (for which both Cason and Cromartie are both unsuited for). Chargers simply got value while they could.
Cromartie has deficiencies in his game he needs to improve on, but he's a promising player and far from garbage.