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Antonio Cromartie: Time to put up or shut up

Without star cornerback Darrelle Revis, it is time for Antonio Cromartie to put his money where his mouth is.

Marc Serota - Getty Images

With the New York Jets losing cornerback Darrelle Revis for the season, it is time for somebody else on defense to step up. And that somebody has to be Antonio Cromartie.

Cromartie, who definitely does not lack confidence, often talks a big game but sometimes has a hard time backing up what he says. According to an article in Friday’s New York Daily News, Cromartie put even more pressure on himself by proclaiming that he is the No. 2 cornerback in the NFL.

He said what?

Luckily for the outspoken cornerback, the Jets opponent this week, the San Francisco 49ers, does not possess an elite wide receiver, so at least for one week, Cromartie should be able to play like an elite, shutdown corner and stop the likes of Michael Crabtree and a well-past-his-prime Randy Moss. It is even more important he plays well considering he will have a rookie – Kyle Wilson – on the other side of the field from him.

Cromartie is a former All-Pro who, in 2010, held quarterbacks to a 44.1 percent completion percentage on passes thrown at him. Last year that number rose to 46.9 percent, and while that number is well below the league average, if Cromartie wants to be considered among the elite cornerbacks in the NFL, he needs to return to his form of two seasons ago. Further regression cannot happen with Revis off the field.

According to Pro Football Focus, through three weeks this season, opposing QBs have a 47.4 completion percentage and 69.6 quarterback rating against him, though he has not had to cover the opponent’s best receiver — that job belonged to Revis.

He has been both "Good Cro" and "Bad Cro" this season. In Week 1 versus Buffalo, returned an interception for a touchdown, but the following week, he was beaten by Pittsburgh receiver Mike Wallace for a 37-yard score, a play that Jets head coach Rex Ryan described as a "backbreaker." Last week against Miami, Cromartie allowed Dolphins receiver Brian Hartline a 41-yard reception, but that play did not prove costly.

If the Jets want to remain in contention for a playoff spot, Cromartie is going to have to step his game up in the absence of the best cornerback in the game – Revis. With games coming up against Houston (Andre Johnson), Indianapolis (Reggie Wayne) and the New England Patriots (Brandon Lloyd), the time is now for Cromartie to put his money where his mouth is.

It is time for him to put up or shut up.