Possibly the closest Super Bowl matchup in history also poses the question: how much does it mean when certain aspects of an NFL team improve dramatically in the second half of the season?
26 Dec 2011
by Aaron Schatz
We've finally got enough game charting data to get some interesting numbers for the 2011 season. And so, as promised on Twitter a few days ago, here's a look at the best and worst cornerbacks in our game charting stats with the data we have collected as of December 26.
Any game charting data comes with a heavy dose of caveats, but that's especially true for in-season game charting data. So when you look at these numbers, please be aware:
I used a minimum of 28 targets for these tables. Because this data is incomplete, please don't assume that a low number of targets listed equals a cornerback that opponents are "avoiding." That player could just be on a team with a few missing halves.
|Top 12 CB in Success Rate, 2011 (through Week 13)|
Revis is leading cornerbacks in both stats, and on completions he's also allowing fewer yards after catch than he did last year. Revis is the best cornerback in the league and these numbers back that up. As I said before, don't get too caught up in the low number of charted passes -- we're missing about half of the Jets halves from Week 9 onwards. We have only 38 charted passes for Antonio Cromartie and only 28 for Kyle Wilson.
There are two real surprises here. First, Richard Sherman, a rookie fifth-round pick out of Stanford who is playing at left cornerback for Seattle. He's given up a couple of really big plays (most notably an 83-yard touchdown by Victor Cruz in Week 5) but has otherwise been really good and really consistent. His best game was probably Week 8 against Cincinnati. He's listed with nine pass targets -- seven of those to A.J. Green -- and allowed just two receptions. He also was in coverage for two interceptions, one he picked off himself and one he tipped up so Kam Chancellor could pick it off. The other surprise is Dimitri Patterson, a journeyman scrub on his fifth team who is suddenly having success playing nickelback in Cleveland.
Jabari Greer is having a good rebound year after his numbers dropped a bit in 2010. Stanford Routt, Asante Samuel, and Brent Grimes all continue their fine numbers from last season. Rashean Mathis has been near the bottom of the league the last couple years -- 42 percent Success Rate last year, for example. This year, he was much better before getting injured, although he has the "steady cornerback who occasionally gets burned" combo of high success rate and high yards per pass.
|Bottom 12 CB in Success Rate, 2011 (through Week 13)|
Oh look, DeAngelo Hall again. Jacob Lacey also has lousy numbers for the second season in a row, but Asher Allen wasn't quite this bad last year. Devin McCourty is having a big sophomore slump, but he's not the only one; Sam Shields and E.J. Biggers are also second-year corners who had excellent charting numbers as rookies but haven't found as much success this season.
|Top 12 CB in Yards per Pass, 2011 (through Week 13)|
Mostly this is the same guys that were on our table for top Success Rates, although we've got a couple of additions with smaller sample sizes (San Francisco rookie Chris Culliver, Jacksonville's Drew Coleman). Cortland Finnegan doesn't give up a lot of yards per pass because, as you can see, he's practically sitting on the line of scrimmage. He's got the shortest average pass distance of any cornerback with at least 28 charted passes.
|Bottom 12 CB in Yards per Pass, 2011 (through Week 13)|
I said that Rashean Mathis has the "steady cornerback who occasionally gets burned" stats combo this year, but nothing like Leodis McKelvin. Among cornerbacks with at least 28 charted passes, nobody else comes within two yards of his average pass distance of 19.4 yards. We've got him on the hook for four different completions over 40 yards plus a fifth of 34 yards. But he also has a lot of successful plays on third down, not just incomplete passes but stuff like a two-yard completion on third-and-4 and a 10-yard completion on third-and-12.
Tramon Williams and Brandon Flowers also fall into the "steady cornerback who occasionally gets burned" category. So does a player not on these lists: Nnamdi Asomugha. Asomugha has a good-but-not-great Success Rate (53 percent) and a poor 9.9 yards allowed per pass, but quarterbacks still seem to be avoiding him. We have 55 charted passes with Asante Samuel in coverage, 22 with nickelback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, but only 19 with Asomugha. However, the low number of charted passes might be partially due to the weird ways the Eagles were using him on defense early in the season (for example, as a safety).
We'll update these game charting numbers in the offseason once we have the whole season charted.
37 comments, Last at 07 Jan 2012, 3:09pm by mike jones