The departure of one of the best defensive players in franchise history would typically cause a team to miss a step on the defense but that doesn't seem to be the case with the New York Jets. They seem to be ready to step into the challenge of filling Darrelle Revis's impact on defense.
The defense played better than most anticipated last season after losing both Revis and Sione Po'uha. The defense has been jump-started by a rejuvenation of young talent, a reason why some are confident about the team's chances.
"I think, you know when you add our front seven, the physicality of what our front seven is doing, I think we're probably going to have one of the best front sevens," said Antonio Cromartie. "So you just look forward to that and hopefully we can get to the quarterback and make him throw bad throws."
The confidence and leadership of the defense is being put upon the shoulders of Cromartie, the new leader of the secondary.
"I'm just going along with it, honestly," said Cromartie. "I love what I'm doing and trying to be the leader that I am, and just going out and having fun basically."
Cromartie, 29, stepped up last season after Revis went down with a torn ACL during a game against the Miami Dolphins in Week 3. Cromartie played one of his best seasons in the NFL, maturing into a reliable cornerback that was able to fill in admirably for Revis. Most impressively the defensive scheme remained very much the same, meaning that Cromartie played the "Revis" role and did so very well.
The player that wasn't drafted to fill in Revis's shoes but to fill his placement on the depth chart is a highly regarded rookie by the name of Dee Milliner. The rookie is beginning to draw praise from the team after missing the first week of training camp.
"I mean he's good. It's just a point of, like I said, getting the repetition and going out and playing the ball he's playing," said Cromartie. "He's playing great defense and he's going out there and being physical at the point."
The man that Milliner is leapfrogging is Kyle Wilson. Wilson was drafted in the first round by the Jets in 2010 but hasn't met expectations during his first three seasons. He has been exposed on the outside but has flashed some potential covering slot receivers.
"I've seen some great stuff from Kyle," said Cromartie.
The front seven may be garnering headlines for their potential but it will be the secondary that makes or breaks this defense. Cromartie will need to lead and play at the level he did last season for this team to have any hope of sniffing a playoff berth.