Stat Analysis
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Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

by Aaron Schatz

As part of our ongoing Stat of the Day series, we're digging deep into our spreadsheets to run a new stat every weekday until Super Bowl XLIV.

We've snuck some cornerback charting numbers into the various playoff previews, but today we'll take a wholesale look at the top corners of 2009 based on our game charting data so far. I've ranked all cornerbacks with at least 40 charted passes, which means 70 total cornerbacks. I've removed passes marked as Hail Mary, Hit in Motion, Tipped at Line, or Thrown Away. I've also removed wide receiver screens, which aren't really a good way to measure cornerback coverage because a cornerback in man coverage is going to (or at least, is supposed to) immediately get blocked out of the play by another wide receiver. Right now I'm only looking at primary defenders, so this is not adjusted to account for double coverage, or plays where the charter marks a hole in zone but lists an appropriate zone defender in the second DEFENDER column. There are no opponent adjustments yet, and pass interference is not yet included.

Typical caveats apply, of course: This is imperfect data based on the game charting project, which means it comes off limited television camera angles. In past years, this data has been very inconsistent from year to year, and we're going to study that in the offseason to try to figure out if we can get more accurate numbers by, say, looking at players over two-year spans.

Success Rate, to remind everyone, is the percentage of passes that don't manage to get at least 45 percent of needed yards on first down, 60 percent of needed yards on second down, or 100 percent of needed yards on third down.

Top 10 Cornerbacks in Success Rate, 2009 (data as of 2/3/10)
Player Team Charted
Targets
Yd/Pass Rk Avg. Pass
Distance
YAC Rk Success
Rate
Rk
24-D.Revis NYJ 94 3.9 1 15.4 2.4 8 72% 1
32-J.Greer NO 50 4.8 2 14.6 2.7 14 70% 2
26-L.Sheppard NYJ 55 6.0 12 12.2 4.1 48 67% 3
29-D.Rodgers-Cromartie ARI 88 5.8 9 12.7 4.1 46 66% 4
29-L.Hall CIN 84 6.6 23 15.5 3.5 35 63% 5
24-S.Brown PHI 72 7.2 36 12.0 4.9 63 63% 6
21-D.Lowery NYJ 48 5.1 3 12.0 4.1 47 63% 7
29-D.Florence BUF 73 5.7 7 12.5 3.6 40 62% 8
25-T.Brown SF 43 5.9 10 12.1 4.0 44 60% 9
23-L.Bodden NE 64 5.2 4 11.9 1.7 1 59% 10

Yes, that list includes three New York Jets. Do you think Rex Ryan's blitz schemes had an effect on that defense? This continues the insane inconsistency of Lito Sheppard, who according to five years of game charting data was one of the worst cornerbacks in the league in 2005, 2007, and 2008 but one of the best cornerbacks in the league in 2006 and 2009.

Hey, look who's back from the dead? It's our good friend Leigh Bodden! Welcome back, Leigh! He honestly didn't look this good during the season, subjectively, but the charting data has him rated higher than Shawn Springs and much, much higher than the Patriots' younger cornerbacks.

Drayton Florence? I have no idea what's up there. By the way, you might remember Tarell Brown as number four on our Top 25 Prospects list in Pro Football Prospectus 2008.

Top 10 Cornerbacks in Yards per Pass, 2009 (data as of 2/3/10)
Player Team Charted
Targets
Yd/Pass Rk Avg. Pass
Distance
YAC Rk Success
Rate
Rk
24-D.Revis NYJ 94 3.9 1 15.4 2.4 8 72% 1
32-J.Greer NO 50 4.8 2 14.6 2.7 14 70% 2
21-D.Lowery NYJ 48 5.1 3 12.0 4.1 47 63% 7
23-L.Bodden NE 64 5.2 4 11.9 1.7 1 59% 10
25-J.Powers IND 55 5.4 5 11.0 2.6 10 56% 23
31-R.Marshall CAR 57 5.6 6 9.8 4.5 55 56% 24
29-D.Florence BUF 73 5.7 7 12.5 3.6 40 62% 8
27-J.Lacey IND 83 5.8 8 12.4 2.0 5 51% 47
29-D.Rodgers-Cromartie ARI 88 5.8 9 12.7 4.1 46 66% 4
25-T.Brown SF 43 5.9 10 12.1 4.0 44 60% 9

A lot of the same players appear on both lists, but we add a couple of Colts, a reminder of the basic strategy of zone coverage: prevent big gains. Speaking of zone coverage and preventing big gains, three Colts appear on our list of the cornerbacks who best prevented yards after catch. (The Colts actually had four different cornerbacks hit the 40 targets minimum, because you face a lot of passes when you are winning and because the Colts are one of only two teams where the whole season is already charted.)

Top 10 Cornerbacks in YAC Allowed, 2009 (data as of 2/3/10)
Player Team Charted
Targets
Yd/Pass Rk Avg. Pass
Distance
YAC Rk Success
Rate
Rk
23-L.Bodden NE 64 5.2 4 11.9 1.7 1 59% 10
21-K.Jennings SEA 45 6.4 19 11.4 1.8 2 51% 42
23-C.Houston ATL 51 8.4 58 14.0 1.8 3 43% 64
23-T.Jennings IND 65 6.4 18 10.1 1.8 4 42% 68
27-J.Lacey IND 83 5.8 8 12.4 2.0 5 51% 47
24-B.Flowers KC 69 6.9 28 15.7 2.1 6 58% 16
39-B.Carr KC 67 6.4 17 12.6 2.2 7 54% 37
24-D.Revis NYJ 94 3.9 1 15.4 2.4 8 72% 1
22-J.Joseph CIN 80 7.0 31 12.7 2.4 9 50% 48
25-J.Powers IND 55 5.4 5 11.0 2.6 10 56% 23

I guess I didn't watch that much Kansas City this year, but did they play primarily zone? It didn't necessarily have to be Cover-2, but having two cornerbacks who barely allow any yards after catch matches the typical blueprint for a zone defense.

After looking at these tables, I would like to apologize to Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and his fans. We've been saying for a few weeks that DRC was a poor choice for the Pro Bowl, based on our charting numbers. However, as more charting numbers have come in, DRC's numbers have steadily improved. He clearly got better in the second half of the season, especially when it came to allowing big plays. Here are his numbers split in half:

Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie Charting Stats, 2009
  Charted
Targets
Yd/Pass Avg. Pass
Distance
YAC Success
Rate
Weeks 1-9 (8 charted games) 56 7.2 13.2 5.5 64%
Weeks 10-17 (6.5 charted games) 41 3.9 10.7 4.1 68%

Finally, one more table, in praise of he who shall never make the required minimum to be ranked:

Oakland Raiders Starting Cornerback Charting Stats, 2009
Player Charted
Targets
Yd/Pass Avg. Pass
Distance
YAC Success
Rate
21-N.Asomugha 23 7.8 11.7 4.9 57%
37-C.Johnson 79 8.5 13.7 3.3 54%

Most of the numbers aren't that special, but that total of charted targets (in 14.5 games we've charted so far) is just ridiculous. Even after adjusting for how many games are still left uncharted, teams threw at Darrelle Revis four times as often as they threw at Nnamdi Asomugha.

Tomorrow we'll flip the script and run "10 worst" tables for cornerback charting stats.

Comments

56 comments, Last at 08 Feb 2010, 12:48am

1 Re: Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

I'm sorry Aaron, but saying Leigh Bodden didn't look that good during the season is flat out wrong (yes, I know it's subjective, but I couldn' disagree more). Bodden had a great year. He was in position almost all of the time, he made plays on the ball, and he rarely (if ever) gave up a big play. By almost every website's CB rankings, he was a Top 10 corner. As a Pats fan yourself, you should know that teams threw on Whilite, Butler and Springs all of the time. Bodden was the only good corner we had. The numbers speak for themselves. Your eye sight, or judgement on Bodden, is questionable.

2 Re: Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

Honestly, I don't think seeing Leigh Bodden in your top ten is that surprising. Subjectively, he looked like an above average CB playing alongside a mix of aging veterans whose play was only average (Springs) and rookies/young guys with flashes of talent who nevertheless consistently got beat (Wilhite/Butler). It's really a shame that Bodden was only signed to a one-year deal...there's a pretty good chance he'll move on this offseason and New England fans will have to deal with a starting CB tandem of Wilhite-Butler.

To my subjective eye, Bodden played with excellent technique, always making tackles when needed after short passes (hence his very low YAC), and was generally in good enough position and had good enough technique to break up most, if not all, deeper pass attempts targeted at his guy. I think most Pats fans were very happy with his play.

The real reason why the Pats pass defense was so crappy this season was the almost complete lack of pass rush, especially in the second half of games when the D-line wore down due to lack of depth (sure, we can trade away Richard Seymour, no problem!), and Jonathan Wilhite's almost magical ability to be in perfect position every time stride for stride with a receiver and yet still somehow allow a completion.

5 Re: Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

I'm so tired of Pats fans complaining about Seymour being gone. He hasn't been an elite DE since he signed that big contract. In what year did he EVER get ANY pressure on QBs? The guy has been out of shape/overweight for the past four years. Seymour was great in the run game, but people need to stop pushing this idea he's a sack machine. He had ZERO impact on the pass rush in 08, 07 and 06. People seem to forget how Pats fans complained about our lack of a pass rush long before this season.

43 Re: Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

Um, no. Turnovers are very valuable, but they're not the only thing that's valuable. Woodson had a great season - and wasn't really playing as a conventional CB, so I don't find his absence from these lists surprising. I still don't think he was as good, or as valuable, as Revis.

8 Re: Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

I think one of the reasons you're starting to see surprises here is because this is a 'flat' stat; it's not adjusted for opponent strength and skill and situation. Which means that the really good players will remain really good, but people like Leigh Bodden (who did not face a lot of really good QBs most of the year) are going to look better simply because of the games they played in conference.

Probably outside the scope of the argument, but being able to rate some of those performances as better or worse depending on opposing QB's DVOA would likely be a bit more accurate and telling.

16 Re: Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

No, it means that on average the QBs they faced were good.

It doesn't mean they faced above-average QBs all over the place. This is the same issue that causes the strength of schedule to be so irrevocably flawed.

Manning
Brees
Schaub
Ryan
Flacco

I'm not saying that I'm right - but it's an obvious correlation. While they did face NO, Indy, and Houston - Baltimore was not exactly lighting it up this year, and neither was Atlanta. And even if Brees, Manning and Schaub are awesome, that means they faced meh to horrible QBs the other 14 games they played.

But heck, let's go through that schedule and see how hard it was:

Buffalo
NYG
Atlanta
Baltimore
Denver
Tennessee (pre Vince Young)
Tampa
Miami (Henne)
Indy
Jets
NO
Miami (Henne)
Carolina (at least this was Matt Moore)
Buffalo
Jacksonville
Houston
Baltimore

Okay, so Indy, NO and Houston were all bigger games from QBs. What's left after that - Denver? What's the best passing offense after that post those three games?

I don't know whether or not Bodden did that well; I didn't pay that much attention to his games. But if I had to bet, I'd say that he didn't do that great against the good passing offenses they faced (I remember big games from Manning, Brees and Schaub) and I bet that he did pretty well against the Buffaloes and Chad Hennes of the world.

9 Re: Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

Also, according to your offensive numbers, Oakland is last in the league in DVOA vs. #1 WRs with 7.2 targets per game (league average= 7.2), 28th in DVOA vs. #2 WRs with 4.0 targets per game (league average= 4.0), 19th in DVOA vs. all other WRs with 4.5 targets per game (league average= 5.3), #16 in DVOA vs. TEs with 5.8 targets per game (7.0 league average), and #13 in DVOA vs. RBs with 5.9 targets per game (6.6 league average).

Now obviously the Raiders face fewer passing attempts than the league average, because they're always behind and have a weak run defense, meaning that opponents will run more against them.

So I adjusted for them having a league-average number of attempts, and found that the following differences in pass distribution vs. the Raiders:

WR1 10%
WR2 -23%
WRO 3%
TE 0%
RB 8%

So are we to believe that Asomugha is mostly guarding #2 WRs? Do they just leave him on one side of the field, so that opponents will respond by putting their better receiver on the other side of the field, and prey on the coverage there?

13 Re: Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

Also, it seems that no matter who is covering whom, the Raiders just suck vs. all WRs, in general. Asomugha might just be not as sucky as his teammates.

I fundamentally believe that the Raiders are not using Asomugha the right way. Instead of letting him be like Revis and move around to wherever the offense is going to go (as often dictated by circumstance, receiver type, and blitz schemes and coverage away from the #1 CB), they just line their CBs up on either side of the field and let them go at it. Teams will freely ignore their #2 WRs if they're facing an elite CB; they will be much less likely to ignore their #1 WRs no matter the coverage (unless you're Manning and are willing to throw to a Air Bud if you need to).

If Asomugha is as good as people say he is, the Raiders need to make it harder for opponents to avoid throwing to him, much as Rex Ryan does for the Jets.

21 Re: Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

The Raiders defense is as laughably outdated as their offense. They insist on playing man to man, and in the 4 or so Raiders games I watched this year, they were consistently beaten by bunch formations where a receiver ran a drag. I'm not really surprised how poorly they utilize Nnamdi

34 Re: Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

As a charter (and fan) for the Raiders this season, you're forcing me to relive Raiders futility. However, I will do my best to remember what I saw.

Raiders played a ton of 4 rushers, and mostly man coverage. If I recall, Asomugha and the other Chris Johnson play man on the receivers, but only on their respective sides of the field. If Asomugha's man motions to the slot on the other side, he usually does not follow him across, instead, a LB or safety will pick him up. If an offense lines up 2 WRs on Asomugha's side, he takes the outside guy, so if you're a smart offensive mind like Norv, you put Vincent Jackson in the slot.

Subjectively, I think he has slipped a bit. But I believe he is still a top 5 CB, despite his success rate and yards. When he was targeted, it was usually deep passes, without safety help, and against the likes of Vincent Jackson (twice). The front four rarely put any pressure on opposing QBs, so of course they'll have the time to throw the deep passes more accurately.

55 Re: Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

"If Asomugha is as good as people say he is, the Raiders need to make it harder for opponents to avoid throwing to him, much as Rex Ryan does for the Jets."
Ummm, isn't the point for the opponent to avoid throwing to the covered receiver?? Asomugha is being used correctly, as he's completely shutting down opponents. The pass rush needs to disruptive; that's the problem. Add a standout pass rusher like Ware, Freeney or Harrison (or even Woodley, Mathis or Spencer), the Raiders defense could be effective like Ryan's Jets.

"Also, it seems that no matter who is covering whom, the Raiders just suck vs. all WRs, in general. Asomugha might just be not as sucky as his teammates."
Perhaps you could meet Chris Johnson, and not the dude running for 2000 with the Titans. He did great last year after DeAngelo Hall was cut and didn't do bad at all this year.

56 Re: Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

To be more specific, this is not saying that the Raiders have a poor pass rush, they were sixth in adjusted sack rate, after all, or that Temo is wrong for questioning the Raiders' plans for Asomugha. Still, I think Oakland is missing the "go-to" pass rusher that defenses focus on. Trevor Scott nor Greg Ellis is the answer for that role.

I'd rather have Asomugha shut down receivers 2-to-whoever on his side, with the number one going to Nnamdi's just half the game, if it forces the quarterback to one side. With the standout pass rusher, I think it would be easier to filter coverage opposite Asomugha. This may be different philosophies between Temo and I, to stick your best against the #1 or simply focus on shutting down one side regardless where the #1 is located, which is perfectly understandable.

Of course, I wonder how consistently the Raiders can prevent teams from moving the chains when the offense can't move a lick with the likes of JaMarcus Russell and Charlie Frye under center. When the offense finally has some legitimacy, like an offensive line that can control the clock like the Jets did this season, then we will truly see if Asomugha's going to waste because of Oakland's defensive scheme.

17 Re: Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

And to further this point, here are the pass distributions vs. league average for various other teams with elite CBs:

NYJ (Revis)
WR1 -2%
WR2 6%
WRO 1%
TE -2%
RB -2%

GB (Woodson)
WR1 -1%
WR2 -3%
WRO 12%
TE -6%
RB 1%

CIN (Hall)
WR1 -1%
WR2 11%
WRO -11%
TE 4%
RB -4%

PHI (Samuel)
WR1 0%
WR2 -10%
WRO -12%
TE 20%
RB -2%

As you can see, pass attempts to #1 WRs vs. teams with elite CBs are generally inelastic. Passes to other WRs and TEs and RBs will shift around, but teams will always try to get the ball to the #1 WR about the same. Except, it seems, if you're facing the Raiders, when you're more likely to target the #1 WR and ignore the other WRs. Hardly the pattern one excepts vs. an elite CB.

54 Re: Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

So if Asomugha's low target numbers are a result of offenses avoiding lining their #1 receiver against him, then is he not as good as his stats indicate? Also, if number of targets are a good indicator of the quality of a corner, then why doesn't FO have a targets per play stat? If a corner is on the field for 307 plays in a season, and gets targeted 34 times, then that's 0.11 targets per play. That seems like a much better indicator than success rate.

10 Re: Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

I did alot of Jets charting this year, and I can't say I'm surprised to see how high up he is. One of the underlooked aspects of his play this year was his ability to break up passes while playing zone as well. It's also surprising how often he was targeted considering Sheppard's fundamental averageness

20 Re: Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

What was the average WR under these stats? I am just wondering if poor Chris Johnson performed reasonably. I find it interesting that Chris Johnson was targeted less than Revis! Sure, everyone has a lead on Oakland. Well, unless you are certain decent teams. But still, I have heard Johnson getting ripped and it does not appear to be justified.

28 Re: Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

This, in a nutshell, is why Revis should have been Defensive MVP.

Everything the Jets do revolves around the fact that the Jets are not only at an advantage when the opposing QB throws to their #1 WR in single coverage, but they actually set up their base defense to force QB's to throw at the #1 WR.

Despite this, the Jets have the lowest YPA for #1 receivers by 2 yards (Jets 4.1 YPA, Bengals #2 at 6.1 YPA). The 2nd lowest number in the last decade was 5.4 YPA

30 Re: Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

I'm shocked to see Lito Sheppard on that list, he was benched in the most important game of the year, because his coach didn't trust him. I'm guessing the strength of the pass rush had something to do with his stats. I've watched him a couple of times this year, and he is just plain awful.

32 Re: Stat of the Day: 2009 CB Charting Stats

In my view, Sheppard was not very good, although he wasn't healthy much of the year. The defense forces a lot of throw away incompletions, which drives the FO numbers up for all the NYJ corners. What makes Revis stand out is not only was he usually single covering #1 WRs, but so many of the incompletions in his direction were defensed passes not throw aways. He really was astounding.

I don't see how Revis can match his peformance this year. It was like Brady in 2007. I think the projection for the NYJ defense in 2010 has to factor in some significant regression to the mean for him. Not that he isn't very talented and will probably continue to be among the best in the league, but it's not reasonable to EXPECT anyone to continue at that pace. I hope I'm wrong though.

39 Revis got 94 targets!!!

Aaron,
This is the main thing I have a problem with. As my father would say, what're the QBs doing, taking stupid pills?

I simply cannot believe he was the most targeted CB among these guys. Even with a stifling run D, it just makes no sense. As Peyton Manning, who did not seem afraid to target Revis a handful of times, but still helped himself to a few extra servings of Lowery and Sheppard in the playoff game.

Any way to audit that?

41 Re: Revis got 94 targets!!!

I know, it seems crazy, but teams really did throw that often to receivers covered by Revis. I seem to remember K.C. Joyner writing an article to this effect before the playoffs, so that's another set of charting data that agrees with ours. Also, if you want to just look at standard PBP, remember that Revis led the league with 31 passes defensed when nobody else had over 25. He's 12th in (passes defensed + pass tackles) with 65. So clearly, people were throwing to the guys he was covering. The Jets did a great job of moving him around to cover specific receivers. For example, in two games he is listed in coverage on Randy Moss 14 times: six on the left, six on the right, and two in the middle. He is listed in coverage on Terrell Owens 14 times: four on the left, eight on the right, and two in the middle. He covered good receivers, and quarterbacks like to throw to good receivers even if they are well-covered.

Note: For the person who mentioned "throw away" passes against the Jets, remember, I took out passes marked Thrown Away in these numbers.

44 SSSSSSHHHHHHHHHH

As a Buffalo fan, let me be the first to say thanks for letting the Drayton Florence cat out of the bag. We already lost Clements, Greer, and Winfield to FA because we won't pay them, and now you're gonna lay this on us? I struggled through a lot this year, but the Bills secondary, between the youth and talent of Florence and Byrd, was a definite bright spot. If they had ANY talent on the d-line or LB core (Schobel gets 10 sacks in three games every year and our LBs are worst in football) that secondary would get a lot more recognition. They are particularly impressive considering the amount of run support they give and how much time opposing teams have to throw.

46 Greer

I can't say I know much about NO's defense. Is Greer really that good? Will he be effective in making Manning look away from Wayne in the SB?

51 Re: Greer

In reply to by Purds

Greer was really that good this year. Opponents only scored one touchdown on him all season, and that was a questionable one against the Falcons in which Roddy White (appeared to have) pushed off to make the catch. And granted this is totally anecdotal, but in my memory of every Saints game this season, when a completion was thrown Greer's way, his coverage was about as good as it could be -- it was just an amazing throw and amazing catch. Manning might still throw at Wayne, but it would have to be one of those in order to work (which ... well, it's Manning and Wayne, so that is not unlikely).

The Saints' defense also suffered terribly during the several games he missed with a sports hernia (some of these also overlapped with Tracy Porter, the other starting corner, going out). Earlier in the season, the fact that the run defense gave up big plays was not too much of a liability because they were usually playing with a good lead, and the secondary could hold its own against the opponent's passing attack. And Darren Sharper definitely benefited from not having to help the corners out; he was able to gamble, and jump routes for interceptions. But the defense was really exposed when the backup corners played.