When it comes to coverage analysis, PFF offers the most comprehensive tools and statistics available today. We track coverage numbers much like traditional wide receiver figures, looking at yards, yards after catch, targets, completions, touchdowns, interceptions, passes defended and, perhaps most importantly, coverage snaps.
This allows for the same type of comparative analysis that is normally reserved for offensive positional players, and does so with a whole added dose of context. Context that shines through with our Signature Stats.
The coverage Signature Stats that we will be looking at today is the NFL Passer Rating Allowed. PFF offers other stats that delve deeper into a per-play basis, but the NFL Passer Rating is a great stat for looking at a cornerback’s performance when targeted. The statistic is calculated just like it sounds, using the NFL’s quarterback rating system based on a quarterback’s performance when targeting each cornerback. Quarterback rating is not a perfect system but it does take into account many stats that are important in coverage like completion percentage, yards per attempt, interceptions, and touchdowns.
Note: The cutoff was set at 140 coverage snaps through seven weeks
The Top End
Chicago’s Shutdown Duo
If you are looking for the best cornerback combo right now in the NFL, it’s hard to go wrong with Charles Tillman and Tim Jennings. The only other choice would be Seattle’s duo, but the Bears’ corners have them bested in NFL Rating, Yards per Snap, touchdowns, and interceptions. If you watched Tillman’s performance against Calvin Johnson on Monday Night football you would have seen just how suffocating their corners can be, as Johnson was held to only 34 yards on 12 targets. These two have been good in the past, but they’ve taken it to a whole new level this year.
Lardarius Webb proved last year that he is one of the best corners in the league and was on his way toward backing it up this year when an ACL injury sidelined him for the season. Through six games he had allowed only 111 yards and an NFL Rating of 42.2 against. To say losing him will have a big impact on the team is an understatement. Teams had stopped testing Webb and were picking on Cary Williams, who has been abysmal so far. Williams is giving up an NFL Rating against of 104.6 and has given up the second-most yards in the NFL with 508. Webb’s replacement, Jimmy Smith, hasn’t been much better. He’s given up twice as many yards as Webb in only eight more snaps, for an NFL Rating of 93.6. It is clear that the Ravens’ secondary is not the same at all without Webb and they could be in serious trouble if someone doesn’t step up.
The cornerback class of the 2011 draft may go down as one of the best in history, and has had some players explode onto this scene this year. Patrick Peterson, Prince Amukamara, Chris Culliver, and Richard Sherman have all been top-flight cover corners this season and all are in the Top 10 in NFL Rating Allowed. Combined, they have allowed one touchdown and intercepted eight passes. What they have done is nothing short of amazing, especially considering that Sherman was the only one to have a positive coverage grade last season. This has the chance to be a class that, much like the receivers of 1996, the quarterbacks of 2004, and the tight ends of 2010, people talk about for a while.
Rank Name Team Targets Recs Completion % Yards TDs Ints NFL Rating
1 Casey Hayward GB 29 13 44.83% 166 0 4 23.7
2 Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie PHI 33 15 45.45% 211 0 3 28.7
3 Chris Culliver SF 27 11 40.74% 129 0 1 40.5
4 Lardarius Webb BLT 24 11 45.83% 111 0 1 42.2
5 Patrick Peterson ARZ 42 19 45.24% 249 1 3 42.7
6 Richard Sherman SEA 40 20 50.00% 294 0 3 43.1
7t Charles Tillman CHI 30 18 60.00% 137 0 2 43.3
7t Tim Jennings CHI 55 29 52.73% 284 1 4 43.3
9 Prince Amukamara NYG 21 10 47.62% 110 0 1 43.8
10 Antonio Cromartie NYJ 41 16 39.02% 257 2 3 46.5
It is hard to find any positives in the coverage of Kyle Arrington so far this season. His play on the right side and in the slot has yielded an NFL Rating of 155.8, and he is also allowing a league-high 80% completion percentage. If Devin McCourty were putting up the same sort of numbers he did last year, where he was toward, the bottom in NFL Rating, this defense would be in all-time bad territory. Even still, the Patriots are giving up 290 passing yards per game and a quarterback rating of 99.2. Arrington has never been a great corner and has always given up hefty yardage (1758 yards the past two seasons), but his seven interceptions last year made the yardage palatable. This year, though, with no interceptions and four touchdowns allowed already, Arrington may slowly be playing himself out of a starting role.
To expect a cornerback to come into the NFL and be a lockdown corner is an unrealistic expectation. No matter the player’s physical abilities or level of play, they will have rookie mistakes that cost them. Two great examples of this are the first two corners taken in this year’s draft, Morris Claiborne and Stephen Gilmore. Both have shown promise, but have committed their fair share of mishaps as well. Claiborne’s biggest mistake occurred on a double move by Devin Hester in Week 4 for a 34-yard touchdown. Gilmore was similarly beaten by a stutter and go Week 1 against the Jets for a 33-yard score. Those mistakes have led to both having NFL Ratings against of over 100. These things are bound to happen — you just hope that, with their talent, they’ll figure it out sooner rather than later.
Tale of Two Corners
For as good as Amukamara’s play has been for the Giants this year, Corey Webster’s play has been equally bad. Webster has been a staple of the Giants’ defense ever since he came into the league in 2005, and his sub-par season so far has been a head scratcher. He is playing as bad a stretch as PFF has seen him play, even though he is only 30 years old. He doesn’t look like the same guy who allowed only 112 yards through four postseason games last year, as he has already given up 431 yards and hasn’t had a positive grade yet. His career success, however, suggests that he can turn his season around. If he can, it will make New York one scary team.
Rank Name Team Targets Recs Completion % Yards TDs Ints NFL Rating
76 Corey Webster NYG 40 26 65.00% 431 3 1 115.7
77 Morris Claiborne DAL 24 17 70.83% 200 3 1 118.1
78 Ike Taylor PIT 44 25 56.82% 381 5 0 123.4
79 Rashean Mathis JAX 26 16 61.54% 294 2 0 126.1
80 Aaron Williams BUF 26 16 61.54% 223 5 0 128.7
81 Jacob Lacey DET 17 13 76.47% 193 1 0 132.7
82 Marcus Gilchrist SD 25 19 76.00% 169 4 0 133.2
83 Corey White NO 33 26 78.79% 372 3 0 143.9
84 Vontae Davis IND 18 14 77.78% 183 2 0 146.1
85 Kyle Arrington NE 36 29 80.56% 451 4 0 155.8
You can find this stat updated on a game-by-game basis throughout the year, along with a host of other innovative statistics unique to PFF. Get yourself a Premium subscription and find out what all the fuss is about.
Follow Mike on Twitter: @PFF_MikeRenner