"“Watching him over the years, we know what a great talent and player he’s been, and he had a great workout,” said Pagano on Tuesday.“Long, athletic, fast, ball skills. Intelligent. Smart. Knows the game as well as anybody I’ve been around.”"
While Cromartie is freshly signed by the Colts, he’s played under a similar 3-4, man coverage defensive scheme under former New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan, whom Cromartie started for at cornerback from 2010-13:
"“So anticipating he’ll be able to come in here, (as) he’s familiar with the terminology,” added Pagano. “He’s been in a similar system–playing for Rex (Ryan) in New York, basically the same (defensive) system.”"
As the old secondary coach for Ryan while with the Baltimore Ravens–before becoming their defensive coordinator himself, Pagano has essentially installed a similar defense in Indianapolis to what both Ryan ran with the Ravens as defensive coordinator and later as head coach of the Jets.
It essentially means that Cromartie could be a very “quick learner” as it relates to understanding his new team’s defensive scheme and play-calling:
"Aug 13, 2016; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and former New York Jets head coach, now Buffalo Bills Rex Ryan joke around on the field before the game at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports“He (Cromartie) started cramming last night once he got signed and gotten the playbook, so all the terms, fronts, and coverages, pressures, zone pressures, man pressures, as he was reading through it, he was obviously excited coming in and verbage was damn near the same,” added Pagano.“I think from a mental standpoint, he’ll be fine. He’ll be a quick study in that regard.”"
However, having been unsigned all offseason, the bigger issue for Cromartie will be whether he’ll be able to quickly get into in-game conditioning and if his lingering hip injury has indeed fully healed:
"“…and then physically, he’ll start to practice and we’ll make a determination whether we want to play him this week, next week, or whatever–wait until the end for the start of the season,” said Pagano."
While Cromartie isn’t the player he once was, he still remains an exceptional athlete at the position with a ton of starting experience (133 career starts) while playing man coverage in a similar 3-4 defensive system.
If nothing else, Cromartie is a low risk, high reward signing for the Colts, as he’s only guaranteed $250K and can be released with a very little cap hit–should the signing not work out for whatever reason: