JETS DEFENSIVE BACKFIELD PREPARED TO SET SAIL TO HONOLULU FOR PRO BOWL.
The Jets defensive backfield was well represented when the AFC announced their Pro Bowl roster Wednesday. Cornerback Antonio Cromartie and safety LaRon Landry were named as Pro Bowl reserves after helping the Jets defense rank second in the league against the pass.
Cromartie’s stellar play as the team’s number one corner in lieu of Darrelle Revis’ season-ending injury sparked the team’s early season success. He blanketed opposing team’s number one receivers, allowing 42.3% of passes to be completed in a Pro Football Focus study. Heading into the season finale Cromartie has 25 tackles, 3 INTs, 1 INT TD and 13 passes defended.
His second invite to the Pro Bowl could prove to be the vindication he promised two seasons ago after the team put him on hold for then-Oakland Raider Nnamdi Osomugha. Rex Ryan missed out on the potential “No Fly Zone” defensive backfield tandem of Revis and Nnamdi, and instead found a locker room leader and lockdown corner in Cromartie. And since Asomugha signed with Philadelphia he has drifted off to anonymity.
“My style of play and his style of play are totally different,” Cromartie told ESPNNewYork.com in August of 2011. “I feel I’m more of a playmaker than he is.”
He last was voted to the Pro Bowl in 2007 when he led the league with 10 interceptions and two defensive touchdowns. He was also a first-team All-Pro.
“We have some guys definitely deserving of it. I think Antonio Cromartie, obviously, on defense stands out. I’m hoping that Muhammad Wilkerson gets recognized that way. I’m not sure that he will. Sometimes it seems like it takes a couple years, but clearly those guys have jumped out and I think they’re very deserving. LaRon Landry, I think he’s deserving,” Ryan said Wednesday when asked which Jets were worthy of the Pro Bowl.
LaRon Landry earned a well deserved Pro Bowl nod after spending the last two seasons on the injured reserve list with a gruesome Achilles’ injury. In his first full season back, the gamble the Jets took has paid off. Landry is the team’s second-leading tackler and top enforcer in the defensive backfield, delivering gut-wrenching blows. Landry has 72 tackles, 2 INTs, 4 forced fumbles, 7 passes defended and 1 TD through 15 games.
“I wish I could have contributed to the team making the playoffs, but it’s sweet just to come off a two-year injured reserve situation and this organization basically took a chance on me. I knew the type of player I could be when I’m healthy. It’s always an accomplishment that I always wanted and a goal and I’m just happy for that,” Landry said Thursday.
Ryan’s hopes for Wilkerson, however, will have to wait until the Super Bowl as all six AFC defensive linemen are bound for the playoffs. Should a player make it to the Super Bowl he will be exempt from the Pro Bowl, which occurs the week between conference championship games and the Super Bowl, and a replacement will be named. Certainly a case can be made for the second-year lineman out of Temple as a big time snub, who’s anchored a deep defensive line unit for the Gang Green. On the season he has 66 tackles, 5 sacks, three forced fumbles, four passes defended and 1 TD.
“On offense, obviously, D’Brickashaw Ferguson has had a great year, a fantastic year. Nick Mangold’s been a staple at that Pro Bowl, and Brandon Moore. If they don’t get on the team, I expect some guys to receive some votes for sure,” Ryan said.
They didn’t get voted in, but the possible Pro Bowl fate of Wilkerson could be the same for the Jets offensive line — which overcame early season struggles transitioning from Bill Callahan’s zone scheme to Tony Sparano’s gap blocking scheme to hit their stride in the second half of the season. All three were named to the Pro Bowl last year, with Ferguson rebounding from a shaky 2011 season to have a dominant 2012.
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