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FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

Quentin: Since I didn't see it mentioned in the book, I was wondering if anyone managed to snap Ronde Barber's streak as the king of run support. Did he still manage to lead all corners in tackles on running plays, or did someone outdo him this year? Also curious about the league-leading cornerback in yards from scrimmage allowed in tackles on running plays.

Barber did in fact lose his title as king of run support last year, after leading all cornerbacks in run tackles for three seasons. This may be related to the fact that Tampa Bay ran a Cover-4 scheme the majority of the time last year, rather than their well-known Tampa-2 that keeps the cornerbacks in zones close to the line of scrimmage. Barber fell from 43 run tackles in 2006 to just 19 in 2007, tied for 26th among cornerbacks. Instead, the leading tacklers on run plays were Nate Clements, Cortland Finnegan, and Champ Bailey, 32 each, and Marlin Jackson with 31. (Jackson had more than Barber in 2006, but he was playing safety most of the time.)

Barber still did a good job of making tackles close to the line when he was playing the run, however. Here are the leaders in Stop Rate (defined here) on running plays among cornerbacks with at least 15 run tackles.

Antoine Winfield, MIN: 83% (average 2.4 yards)
Ronde Barber, TB: 63% (average 4.2 yards)
Richard Marshall, CAR: 63% (average 6.0 yards)
Brian Williams, JAC: 63% (average 4.6 yards)
Hank Poteat, NYJ: 61% (average 5.4 yards)
Ike Taylor, PIT: 61% (average 4.0 yards)
Nick Harper, TEN: 61% (average 5.0 yards)

Nate Clements led the league in raw total of "successful" run tackles, with 18 out of 32 tackles (Stop Rate of 56%).

The good news for readers interested in more of our defensive stats: We're working on a "player cards" addition to the FO Premium Database that will include both offensive and defensive players, with stats like Stop Rate and Defeats as well as split counts of run and pass tackles going back to 2000. It probably won't be ready until midseason, but we're getting there. Something to look forward to.

Comments

21 comments, Last at 28 Jul 2008, 5:01pm

1 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by Pete // Jul 23, 2008 - 2:54pm

This is one area where I really respect several of the CB, such as Barber and Champ Bailey. Unlike some CB (who are probably trying to prolong their career), such as Deion Sanders, these CB do not shy away from all contact.

I suspect Champ Bailey may not be quite as elite in the coming years as he ages. However, his willingness and relative success in run support, combined with his elite pass coverage, made him one of the best CB of the decade.

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2 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by MilkmanDanimal // Jul 23, 2008 - 3:46pm

I'm an admitted Barber fanboy, so I like to see stats that show his ability. As a Bucs fan, it's always been fun to watch somebody who can cover, tackle, blitz, and do all the other little things while actually being a good teammate the entire time.

Oh, and for intercepting McNabb at the end of that NFC Championship game, the greatest sports-related moment of my life. That too. Sorry, Eagles fans.

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3 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by Will Allen // Jul 23, 2008 - 4:00pm

Winfield is on the decline now, although still good. His first year in Minnesota was tremendous, one of the finest years I've ever seen from a corner, especially once one factors that there was zero outside pass rush. The guy played a game in Green Bay, which the Vikings lost on the last play, which was almost heroic; he was all over the field, making one on one tackles in the open field, short of the first down marker, forcing fumbles, and breaking up passes. He should have been All Pro that year, or at least have made the Pro Bowl, and if he had been on a team which could rush the passer, he probably would have.

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4 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by usedbread // Jul 23, 2008 - 4:33pm

re: #1
If Deion Sanders were trying to prolong his career, he probably wouldnt have returned kicks or punts...
I don't know how high a level of ball you played, but returners take a high amount of punishment.

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5 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by Chris // Jul 23, 2008 - 4:40pm

WA- I always thought your boy Winfield was just nasty in coverage but wasn't as good this year.

I like Ike Taylor on that list, the guy is shredded and a physically imposing corner. I'd like to see Mike Tomlin turn him into an all pro corner because physically he is amazing.

Champ Bailey is another guy, he isn't just a slim fast corner, the guy is super athletic but we all already knew that.

On the other side of it all, I'd be curious to see Fred Smoots numbers.

If I had to think of an undersized guy that played the run, I would have to think back to the Giants mid 90's Phillipi Sparks. Teams might run a sweep right at him early in the game but he was never scared to dig his nose into the run game.

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6 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by Chris // Jul 23, 2008 - 4:48pm

4. I wonder what percentage of injuries in general happen on special teams. In some games it seems like somebody is hurt on just about every kick off.

Just think about it, you have 21 ( minus the punter) of the most athletic people on the planet in some cases running nearly 20 mph and slamming into each other.

If you ever take your eyes off the return man, look at some of the no named, tatoo, shaved head kamakazee nut jobs running down the field breaking wedges on kickoffs. These 3rd string linebackers are Bill Lattimier from The Program and make a living on taking and delivering punishment.

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7 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by Mike // Jul 23, 2008 - 4:49pm

This is a great stat - it's the kind of thing that makes me really respect FO. You should combine this with coverage stats and run a "Best CB in the league" issue.

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8 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by PhillyCWC // Jul 23, 2008 - 6:51pm

Re 2 - AAAAAIIIIIEEEEE!

Thanks for flashing that memory before my eyes again.

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9 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by Chris Owen // Jul 23, 2008 - 9:23pm

Antoine Winfield fanboy here. I was able to find a working copy of the Kwame Harris lowlight video (link in my name). Harris might have made a lot of defenders look good, but check out Winfield on the first play.

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10 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by lobolafcadio // Jul 24, 2008 - 3:24am

It seems like the Jags know what they do by moving Williams to Strong Safety this year :o)

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11 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by Temo // Jul 24, 2008 - 10:19am

If anything, I think this shows how reliant this stat is on your role within the tea and the type of defense you run.

Rag on Deion all you want, and he wasn't great at tackling, but it's hard to provide run support when you're constantly in one-on-one coverage against the other team's best receiver.

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12 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by Ben // Jul 24, 2008 - 10:23am

#5 Ike Taylor's athleticism is impressive but the fact that he has rocks covered in banana peels where his hands should be has always held him back.

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13 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by kibbles // Jul 24, 2008 - 3:36pm

Re #12: Rag on Deion all you want, and he wasn’t great at tackling, but it’s hard to provide run support when you’re constantly in one-on-one coverage against the other team’s best receiver.

Tell that to Champ Bailey, who has had at least 7 different defensive coordinators during his career so far, yet consistently ranks among the best CBs in the league in run support.

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14 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by panthersnbraves // Jul 24, 2008 - 3:41pm

As CB's lose a step, would it not make sense to roll them over to Safety? They'd have to be physical, and still have some coverage skills, but it would seem that it would be a logical progression for some of the names mentioned here as they age.

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15 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by sam! // Jul 24, 2008 - 4:12pm

I can only hope Brian Williams' strong rating in this area bodes well for his transition to Strong Safety, right?

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16 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by DB // Jul 24, 2008 - 4:20pm

RE #13 : I'm not positive, but I think FO has shown that it's actually pretty rare that the #1 cornerback is always on the other team's #1 receiver. So I don't think your statement about Bailey is quite correct.

Of course, I'm not sure Deion was always assigned to the #1 receiver either, so the comparison might still be valid.

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17 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by Tom D // Jul 24, 2008 - 5:40pm

Re 9:

I love that video.

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18 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by Quentin // Jul 24, 2008 - 7:23pm

16

The point isn't that they're covering the number one, but that they're in man coverage. Aaron states that Barber's decline in total run tackles slipped in large part because the Bucs played a ton of Cover 4, which is essentially man coverage, taking Barber out of position if the receiver sells a route. You argue that anyone playing in a man scheme will probably have low run tackle totals. Denver reportedly played a surprising amount of zone last year, despite having two cover corners, so it's no surprise for Bailey to have a lot tackles. For him to have consistently high tackle totals despite several different coordinators, each of whom likely had a different coverage philosophy, is pretty impressive. I think Stop Rate says as much or more than the raw tackle numbers, but it's when you combine the two that you really get an appreciation for their contributions against the run.

Thanks for answering my question.

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19 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by Quentin // Jul 24, 2008 - 7:27pm

You argue that anyone playing in a man scheme will probably have low run tackle totals

Supposed to be you can argue. I'm not trying to put words in your mouth.

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20 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by Chris // Jul 25, 2008 - 1:38pm

Most teams don't play man coverage anyway and when they do it is on such a limited basis ( 3rd down on a blitz play etc.)

Who cares how many different coordinators Champ Baily had... Man coverage is man coverage is man coverage.

Front zone is front zone is front zone. " Sky" is "sky" is "sky".

You wonder why WRs and QBs usually don't pay dividends until year 3 is because there is a lot of learning. Playing DB in the NFL doesn't takes years of learning a specific playbook or how to read coverages.

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21 Re: FO Mailbag: The King (of Run Support) Abdicates the Throne

by KCToomer // Jul 28, 2008 - 5:01pm

I feel that Neon Deion Million is overrated. His tackling wasn't even average. As soon as he lost a step, he was finished (see his ineffective last 2 years with the Ravens). On the other hand, I think Darrell Green is underrated. As I remember, Green played at a high level for his entire 20 year career. He was starting and covering the top receiver on the other team just as effectively when he was 38 as he was when he was 28- and he always supported the run.
My question is why is Deion a shoe-in hall-of-fame guy and Green has to wait. Nobody is a better self-promoter than Deion, but I'd take Green at CB over Deion any day of the week. And Green was an excellent punt returner even though he did not have that many chances.
I was wondering what do the FO statistics say regarding Green vs Deion?

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