The Art of Tracking and the NFL’s Best Cornerbacks

| June 10, 2014

cb-trackingOne of the great things about the increase in exposure and analysis of the NFL going on right now is that we get to witness the level of debate rise in real time.

Evaluating how good players were used to be confined to a few basic raw statistics, highlight reels and how many talking heads happened to agree with your stance, but now we see something completely different.

Take analyzing cornerback play as an example. It isn’t enough for some people to simply dominate your man or your side of the field in coverage – the way Richard Sherman has done for the past few seasons – they want you to track an opponent’s top receiver and demonstrate you can do it every down in the toughest situations. To some, the fact that Sherman doesn’t track a No. 1 receiver is a major negative against his case as the best corner in the game. Whether you agree with them or not, it’s nice that we have to think about things like that.

Darrelle Revis made tracking receivers fashionable, both schematically in NFL circles and among the fans that took his performance doing it as the benchmark for ‘shutdown corner’ play. Several of the game’s top corners are now asked to perform a similar shadowing task to follow an offense’s best receiver, but Sherman is not among them. The Seahawks don’t need or ask Sherman to track an opponent’s top receiver, but it isn’t because they don’t believe he can do it – it’s because they believe philosophically their defense is in better shape if he doesn’t.

Moving your best cover guy around to try and neutralize the most dangerous threat makes sense on the face of it, but it puts a lot of stress on the rest of the defense and in order to best exploit it you need to be prepared to get very creative elsewhere.

The Jets under Rex Ryan were the perfect defense to take advantage of a guy like Revis at his best. They run a reasonably unusual defense to begin with and they were only too happy to adjust things in major ways that other teams might balk at. Moving one corner around can’t happen in isolation. By definition you need at least one other guy that can move too and potentially a third if you are going to track to the slot.

The Jets were able to exploit Revis tracking his man because they had Antonio Cromartie on the other side who was also capable of doing it. If you don’t have that, you end up with a corner in over his head being asked to move all over the field sticking to the No. 2 guy on offense. Your top guy might be matching up well with the No. 1 receiver, but your No. 2 guy is now out of his comfort zone moving all across the field and being picked on by the second best receiver.

The question defensive coaches are now asking themselves is whether it is easier to take away a team’s best receiver by matching him up with your best corner – wherever he lines up – or by leaving your best guy where he is and bracketing the No. 1 guy, taking advantage of the confidence you have in your best cover man to hold up on an island and dedicate coverage elsewhere in the scheme.

This is what the Seahawks choose to do with Sherman. Instead of asking him to move around to cover one guy, they feel the integrity of the defense as a whole is better served sticking to what they do every down and just cheating a little with the extra room he buys them.

Sherman3

Take this play in the Super Bowl as an example. This is ostensibly a basic cover-3 shell that the Seahawks run as a big part of their base defense. In this coverage both corners have a deep third of the field with the FS, Earl Thomas in this case, taking the middle third. Instead of the deep area of the field divided equally as it exists on the chalkboard, the Seahawks roll Thomas towards Byron Maxwell and leave Sherman with a bit more ground to cover on his own. This allows them to be sure they have enough attention on Demaryius Thomas without asking Sherman and Maxwell to swap positions to shadow him.

Sherman2

They can also achieve the same thing by splitting the coverage and isolating Sherman entirely in man coverage. Again Thomas rolls to the right to cover the passing strength of the formation with two receivers lined up to that side, but instead of Sherman’s deep third expanding to compensate he plays straight man coverage, essentially playing on an island while the rest of the defense plays zone around him.

When I asked Bleacher Report’s Matt Bowen – a former NFL safety and one of the smartest football minds out there – what he would do faced with that choice, he said he would actually put his best cover man on the No. 2 receiver. “The reason for that is it would allow me to take away the No.2 while rolling, cutting, bracketing, etc. to the No.1 WR with the second CB and FS over the top. You could play more Cover 6 (quarter-quarter-half) and roll the “cloud” technique (Cover 2) to the No.1 WR to get a jam with safety in the deep half while your “shutdown” guy plays quarters technique on the side of the field in a press look.”

The other point worth making is that taking the top receiver away only helps the defense if you play to a certain level every down you’re tracking him. Patrick Peterson surrendered seven touchdowns through the air last season tracking receivers. Is that really taking away an opponent’s best weapon? Revis gave up just eight over four seasons of shadowing for the Jets (from his second season onward). There’s no doubting that Peterson is a very good corner, but is he really lockdown all over the field?

Sherman5

Take a look at what Golden Tate was able to do to him when he lined up at RCB during an encounter last season. He turns him inside out at the line and then beats him again after the catch for a big gain. If the idea is to follow the offense’s best guy to neutralize him then plays like this are a major problem.

Sherman6

Joe Haden was beaten for six touchdowns in 2013 performing a similar role for the Browns. Here he gets caught peeking in the backfield against the Jaguars while playing RCB and was beaten on a double move for a score that cost the Browns the game. I’m not saying either Haden or Peterson are bad players – far from it – but would the Browns and Cardinals have been better off just leaving them to play left corner and tackling troublesome receivers by schematic adjustments?

The numbers at least suggest they probably would have been. Four of Haden’s six touchdowns surrendered came away from the left side while all of Peterson’s were given up while playing a position other than left corner. The passer rating into Haden’s coverage was more than 20 points better when he was at left corner than playing either the slot or right corner while Peterson’s passer rating allowed while playing left corner alone was a pretty ridiculous 9.9.

Haden and Peterson were both asked to shadow receivers because they were good enough to take away that weapon and allow the rest of the defense to concentrate on the rest of the offense, but were they actually good enough away from left corner to justify that tactic?

2014-06-10_11-04-32

When the debate between Sherman and Peterson came up, the criticism Sherman always received was that he doesn’t track receivers. While it’s true that he certainly doesn’t do it often, Sherman has played positions beyond left corner, and usually when the offense lines up in unbalanced formations.

Sherman1

Take this play against Carolina. That’s Sherman lined up against Steve Smith in the slot to the right of the formation playing off-man coverage. How did his numbers stack up moving around? Though we’re dealing with a much smaller sample size than the other two, Sherman gave up a passer rating of 36.9 while playing his usual spot of left corner but that dropped to 14.2 when he was targeted in other positions.

Sherman4

Here is another example where he has lined up in the slot against Larry Fitzgerald. Now this is a pretty ugly throw from Carson Palmer, but watch how Sherman rides Fitzgerald downfield, watching the quarterback but also feeling for the break in the route by maintaining contact the whole way – He is then able to become the receiver when the ball is in the air and beat Fitzgerald to the ball for an interception. This is top-level stuff from a guy who doesn’t shadow receivers often, but was excellent when asked to do it.

In truth, there is no way to measure how difficult it is for a corner to shadow a receiver and what effect that has in statistical terms on his performance. I reached out to a few NFL defensive backs to get their opinion and the response was mixed. Denver’s Chris Harris, a very good corner in his own right and one who has had experience playing both slot and wide, told me “Last year I played outside and inside which is way harder than playing outside the whole game. I got the experience of just playing left corner at the end of the year and it made my job way easier. It’s hard to get comfortable moving around and there are a lot more routes you can see. If you just play outside there’s only handful of routes your gonna see”

He did make another interesting point, though, that I hadn’t considered previously: “But going against one dude and preparing for just one receiver is easier to me than having to cover multiple receivers a game.” Though the guy you’re being tasked with tracking is likely the best your opposition has to offer, you do at least get the benefit of learning his nuances and moves in far greater depth than you do if you’re facing three or four receivers in a game.

On the other hand, another NFL corner told me “I don’t think it’s too tough… it’s covering.”

cb2The bottom line is that it’s an unmeasurable factor in all of this corner and coverage evaluation. We will never know how much little things like feeling comfortable and the muscle memory of certain positions aids in a corner’s performance. Sherman and Revis are both able to post fantastic coverage numbers and also force quarterbacks to continue to throw in their direction – Revis through shadowing their favorite target and Sherman by being left on an island as the Seahawks lean coverage away from him – but maybe Sherman’s comfort level and familiarity with the one position is what has allowed him to post the gaudy interception totals that Revis never has.

The unfamiliarity that comes with changing positions down to down introduces a split second of hesitation in Revis’ play that moves him from interceptions to just passes broken up. Or maybe Sherman just has a knack for picking off passes that Revis doesn’t.

cb1Whether that is true or not Revis remains the standard by which we measure shutdown corners in today’s NFL. The +33.2 coverage grade in 2009 is the highest mark we have ever given a corner and it speaks volumes that he was able to grade well last year despite being far from 100% (by his own admission) and placed in an ill-suited scheme.

With the Patriots we’ll likely get to see Revis do more of the shadowing of receivers that brought this whole topic into the public consciousness.

Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis are the two best corners in the game today. Sherman won’t be asked to shadow receivers anytime soon and so this debate will always feature an intangible element, but how much of a factor is tracking receivers in the evaluation? I’m still not sure, but it certainly doesn’t take Sherman out of the conversation, merely gives us something to think about.

 

Follow Sam on Twitter: @PFF_Sam 

  • Thomas Holm

    Great article Sam. I would love to see the numbers on Revis 2009 campaign.

  • yea

    Love the article, seems like the Seahawks are using Sherman the same way teams used Deion Sanders

  • Ben Peterson

    But…but…but…Peterson’s more athletic…

    • Chris

      But…but…but…Peterson plays a harder position…

      • Chris from the Cape

        And outside of LCB he’s not any good at them.

        • Chris

          Because it’s harder? Peterson apparently was better than Sherman at LCB, but he struggled away from there because the added role makes his job more difficult, and he struggles.

          If Sherman was asked to track more often than not, how can you say his performance wouldn’t similarly decrease?

          The only one who’s consistently tracked a #1 and succeeded all over the field in this comparison is Revis. Anyone else who tries struggles playing away from their natural position on one side. Sherman hasn’t proved he can do this, because he hasn’t been asked. But that doesn’t make him better. According to data Peterson was better at LCB.

          • Chris from the Cape

            He was elite at LCB, but your follow up neither refutes my point, nor supports your original.

          • Chris

            I’ll try again.

            Peterson: Elite at LCB, average tracking to other positions.

            Sherman: Elite at LCB, hasn’t been asked to track to other positions.

            Why is one better than the other?

          • Hannah Hayes

            He never said either was better than the other. You made that claim. He said of Peterson, “outside of LCB he’s not any good at them”.

          • Chris

            Where did I say Peterson is better? I said they’re both elite at LCB.

          • WowObvious

            Because one was a 5th Rounder who had to build his reputation as opposed to just having it handed to him year 1. He also played a large role in helping his team win a Super Bowl

            The other plays for the Cardinals.

          • Chris

            1. It doesn’t matter how they started their career. We’re judging on field performance, not development?

            2. I’m pretty sure a Super Bowl is a team accomplishment. How many other corners would look like the best in the league if they got to play next to Thomas and Chancellor every down?

            I guess Trent Dilfer is better than Marino?

          • eYeDEF

            But he has on occasion been asked to track other positions, as stated and illustrated by the examples in the article above. If you’re going to use the smaller sample size of Peterson’s LCB rating to say he bested Sherman when playing there, it’s perfectly legitimate to say that when asked to track other positions Sherman annihilated Peterson to the tune of a 14.2 passer rating against. So to correct your post.

            Peterson: Elite at LCB, not elite at all tracking to other positions.

            Sherman. Elite at LCB, elite at tracking to other positions.

          • Chris

            You can’t just use Shermans slot grade and say it is his tracking grade? As the article pointed out, he only tracked sometimes when there was no WR on his side of the field. He wasn’t tracking #1s.

            Peterson was marking the other teams best WR when he was moving around. Quite a difference.

          • eYeDEF

            Why not anymore than you’re using Peterson’s LCB grade? As the article said, he only played LCB sometimes. And bogus that he didn’t track opposing #1′s. The two examples above show him tracking opposing #1′s in off man disprove your ‘theory’ in a poof of smoke. He’s tracking Steve Smith and Larry Fitzgerald in off man in both examples. I guess you’re not aware that both were their respective team’s #1′s last year, but fabricating stuff to support your point doesn’t help you build credibility for your argument.

          • Anonymous

            If you look at Sherman’s numbers, there was exactly 5 TOTAL, as in the entire season, plays he was targeted outside of LCB. How can you say he “on occasion” was asked to track other positions. That would be considered “very rarely”.

          • eYeDEF

            How could that be true when in game 2 alone he tracked Boldin all game?

          • Chris

            PFF posted a chart showing all players who played significant snaps, how many games they “tracked”, and the type of WRs they lined up across from.

            Sherman tracked 0, Peterson tracked 11.

            So sure he tracked a handful of snaps, but never enough to qualify for tracking a whole game.

            Bottom line: I wish PFF would post more of their data they have, as that would answer this. But all we know is both are elite LCBs, Peterson is just average at best when playing elsewhere, and Sherman hasn’t been asked to play elsewhere (significantly enough to warrant consideration).

          • eYeDEF

            I agree that the sample sizes are too small to be useful and I’ve said so. But my point still stands, did we see Peterson play LCB for an entire game rather than a ‘handful of snaps’? No, but you’re drawing conclusions on him being an elite LCB in spite of the sparsity of data, yet you’re complaining when I do the same for Sherman in man coverage.

          • Chris

            Peterson might have played statistically insignificant snaps at LCB in some games, but over the course of the full season he has enough of a body of work to judge at LCB.

            The difference for Sherman is his season long body of work at anything other than LCB is statistically insignificant.

          • eYeDEF

            And where is your proof?

          • Chris

            Chris eYeDEF • 8 hours ago

            “PFF posted a chart showing all corners* who played significant snaps, how many games they “tracked”, and the type of WRs they lined up across from.”

            Sherman only lined up opposite a #1 WR 27% of the time. Peterson was 55%, Haden was 65% and Revis was 49% I believe.

          • eYeDEF

            Yeah I’m familiar with those stats. And in no way is 27% “statistically insignificant”.

          • Chris

            He marked a #1 27% of the time, but that doesn’t mean he was tracking? 90%+ of those came at LCB is what I’m saying.

          • eYeDEF

            And that’s what I’m saying, where’s your proof that 90% of those came at LCB? It also doesn’t make sense to me that when they choose to run a cover 1 off man coverage that they’d have him track any receiver less than a #1 as that would kind of defeat the purpose. That sounds wholly bogus. The two examples provided from the article illustrate otherwise.

          • Chris from the Cape

            Lets just say there are two QUARTERBACKS, Richard + Pat.
            Pat and Richard are both very successful when working against soft zone coverage and single coverage outside, but Pat consistently forces the ball into double coverage, with far less than stellar results, while Richard doesn’t and only takes what the defense gives him.
            You’re saying they’re equal quarterbacks?

          • Chris

            No, I would not. Because I don’t equate bad decision making with taking on a more difficult role.

            If two QBs are equal in throwing skill but QBA throws into double coverage all the time, obviously QBB is the better option.

            But if two CBs are equal in coverage skill but CBA is asked by his DC to take on a more difficult role and track #1s, just because he struggles with it doesn’t mean CBB is better? I’d still say they’re equal – both are elite CBs, one just plays a tougher role.

            And he only shadowed 11 of the 16 games, so it was obviously a coaching decision to use him that way sometimes and not others.

          • Chris from the Cape

            I thank you for addressing the initial point, and your summation does lead credence that both players very well be equal in football talent.
            Natural talent aside however, both players did not even close to demonstrate equal performance in 2013, and whether the hashmarks are on one side or another, doesn’t excuse Peterson from struggling at times, even if it shows a team-first attitude. Sherman did nothing to prove he couldn’t handle an expanded role, and in interviews explained an impressive array of decoying ploys to entice QBs who were intent on avoiding him.
            As a Pats fan I have routinely been irritated by BB for taking a good slot corner, Arrington, and asking him to do more than he was capable (during the numerous times Talib was injured),and putting him on the outside, where he rarely failed to embarrass himself. Such follows your logic + does give credence to Peterson’s most alarming statistics (150+ PR) being in the slot, though as fellow Cardinal Matthieu is praised for performing in an even tougher role adaptation, Peterson has to likewise hold account for not performing in his.

          • Chris

            My original point was to say that Petersons stats (and overall grade) are dragged down because he played a tougher role. I would make the same point for Arrington.

            If you were wanting to compare Arrington to other slot corners, would you want to mention that Arringtons grade is better than it seems because he spent time getting torched on the outside while subbing for Talib? I would. It isn’t exactly relevant to the discussion about who the better slot corner is.

            In the same way Petersons numbers at RCB and slot aren’t relevant when comparing to Sherman, who didn’t log significant snaps anywhere but LCB.

            As far as the debate to whether or not Peterson tracking #1s is good for the entire defense or not, I’d default to one of my other points – unless your name is Revis you shouldn’t be tracking 1s. Track 2s instead and let your guys bracket the #1. And I’d lump Sherman into that group to because he hasn’t proven yet that he can track #1s. Hell he only marked a #1 on 27% of all his snaps this year. All he’s proven is he’s really good and he plays on a really good defense.

            Oh and tell me you love that gif of Talib gangsta-ing it on the bench??

          • Chris from the Cape

            Well stated: There is a line in accountability, such as if Peyton Manning was rushed into spot duty and missed every field goal he tried, he wouldn’t be any less of a QB. Heresay has attested to, and stats have backed up the difference in covering the slot vs outside, and my biggest sticking point is that whether being flipped from right to left isn’t near the same challenge, at least when not depending on safety help in zone.
            It just hit me that Cromartie signed on to be the RCB, and that while Peterson still will have to cover occasional seam routes + the like from the slot, he’s not likely not going to be asked to cover up for the secondary in the future (I really am surprised Arenas didn’t develop). I don’t know if they’re continuing with the hybrid role with Matthieu, or if Powers will take over the SCB duties, but regardless, at only 24, Peterson is primed for a big season.
            PS: I didn’t see that particular picture, but with BB’s best skills being brainwashing, I thought Talib’s past (my ‘favorite’ was him taking the gun away from a guy pushing around his Mom then proceeding to pistol whip him and then fire warning shots while chasing him though some woods) made him a great fit in NE. Outside of being Gronkowski-like injury prone his main drawback was being weak vs the smaller and faster type WRs, and though safety help can always accommodate such to a degree, the ability to cover anyone on the other team is really what sets apart the Elites like Peterson.

          • Chris

            Powers is no good, and he was backup slot guy behind Mathieu last year.

            As far as I’ve heard, Mathieu is playing FS in base and slot CB in nickel. Meaning Powers is only seeing the field in situations where Peterson has tracked to the slot and they need another guy on the outside.

            And Cromartie tracked #2s with Revis, so I’d say this move screams that Peterson will do even more tracking. In order to track properly you need a #2 who can do the same on the other side. Cromartie may have blown last year as a #1, but he is a more than capable #2, especially when healthy.

            It’s a shame Washington has to keep getting himself suspended. The Cards had the look of a top 5 defense until that.

          • Chris

            Oh and heres the gif:

            http://i.imgur.com/4xMoJ1a.gif

          • eYeDEF

            That’s BS that “anyone else who tries struggles playing away from their natural position”. Where do you come up with this stuff? I was watching a round table on NFL.com a few months ago where these ex ballers were discussing how difficult it was to switch up to play the other side of the field in determining how difficult it would be for Sherman to transition to tracking full time instead of one side of the field. Rod Woodson mentioned that it takes some adjustment because it feels weird at first but eventually your body and muscle memory adapts and you get the hang of it, and these guys didn’t seem to think it would be anything Sherman couldn’t overcome. You seem to make things up as you go along.

          • Chris

            It’s a fact. Anyone not named Revis who had grief 4 top track #1s full time struggles. Several in the past have adapted to the change and tracked #2s, but no one has ever managed to replicate what Revis did. Not Prtetson, Grimes, or Haden.

            And you have absolutely zero proof that Sherman could succeed in the role either.

          • eYeDEF

            Like I said Sherman has tracked #1′s in off man and done very well. This article provides examples. Yet you invent the claim that even in off man he mostly tracks non #1 receivers, which you couldn’t back up when I called you out on it in my last reply that him tracking non #1′s in off man made absolutely no sense as that would defeat the purpose. You insist it’s too small a sample size with no proof, yet have no problem claiming Peterson elite at LCB in spite of similarly having a small sample size. You are the one with zero proof. I’m actually pointing to the data, the tape, and keep pointing to the examples in the article above. You keep obfuscating and making empty claims while trying to invent stats to support your empty claims. It’s actually pretty transparent.

          • Chris

            Alright.

            Fact #1: Sherman marked a #1 27% of the time, considerably lower than his peers who did track #1s in 8-11 games (anywhere from 45-65%). This is the number PFF put in their chart. 27% of the time he marked a #1.

            Fact #2: He played LCB on the VAST MAJORITY of his snaps.

            MY Fact-Based Opinion #1: Obviously I don’t have their background data available, but I can almost guarantee the VAST MAJORITY of that 27% came while he was playing LCB.

            YOUR Opinion: Sherman tracked in off-man. Do you have any data to back this up? Where is the data you’re pointing to? Where is the tape, other than the two examples provided in the article?

            MY Fact-Based Opinion #2: I’m not doubting that he tracked SOME. But what he didn’t do was track often enough for PFF to mark him down as tracking for the majority of any game, because he didn’t.

            Fact #3: They have him down for 0.

            MY Fact-Based Opinion #3: So you have a guy that only marked #1s 27% of the time, half of his peers (generously). He also played LCB almost exclusively while tracking on occasion. I don’t think it’s that far of a leap to assume, like I did above, that the majority of his snaps marking a #1 came while in base coverage at LCB.

            MY Fact-Based Opinion #4: Sure he may have tracked a few, but again as I stated above, those snaps are not statistically significant enough to use in comparison.

            Fact #4: Peterson marked a #1 on 55% of his snaps.

            Fact #5: PFF marked Peterson down as tracking a #1 for the majority of 11 games.

            MY Fact-Based Opinon #5: Again without having the actual data, I can still reasonably assume that he racked up those tracking #1 snaps all over the field because he logged significant tracking snaps, unlike Sherman.

            Conclusion: You have not brought a single fact to the table other than the gifs posted in the article, stating those as conclusive fact that Sherman tracked #1s significantly. I have plenty of facts that PFF have posted themselves, and used those facts to make assumptions about each corner’s play to the best that I can.

            I have said both guys are elite at LCB, Peterson (or anyone else not named Revis) has not been good tracking a #1 away from LCB. They should just track #2s instead as has been done in the past. And, that Sherman hasn’t been asked to track, so no conclusion can be drawn about his tracking skill (unless PFF posts some individual stats to base a conclusion upon).

            This does not make Sherman a better corner. Peterson posted better stats (this year) at LCB, but hurt his own grade when tracking #1s to other spots on the field. It is of my personal opinion that both corners are equally as elite at LCB, and if you put Peterson at LCB on Seattle’s defense, there would be no drop-off in performance (assuming he would play the same role as Sherman).

            I am going to quit responding to your posts unless you start pulling out some actual facts/data.

          • Anonymous

            @disqus_X6kCyxes3d:disqus, you just owned him.

          • Nico D.

            Bigtime….

          • eYeDEF

            This is funny because you could have just agreed with my original post if you’re not going to bring anything of relevance to the table. Here is what I said originally and I’ll highlight the important bits:

            But he has on occasion been asked to track other positions, as stated and illustrated by the examples in the article above. If you’re going to use the smaller sample size of Peterson’s LCB rating to say he bested Sherman when playing there, it’s perfectly legitimate to say that when asked to track other positions Sherman annihilated Peterson to the tune of a 14.2 passer rating against.

            So let me repeat it again for emphasis. If you’re going to say that the 14.2 passer rating against is too small a sample size to judge Sherman as elite in man coverage, then you’re being totally hypocritical to use Peterson’s LCB rating which suffers a smaller sample size to say he bested Sherman there. Peterson never played a game strictly at LCB either, and as the article above makes mention of, it’s debatable whether playing one side of the field is less challenging than tracking the opposing #1′s full time, because in the former case you’d have to prepare for the nuances of multiple receivers. So what you’re essentially doing is wanting to have your cake and eat it too. You want to dismiss the small sample size and not playing full games tracking opposing #1′s for Sherman, but you won’t make the same exclusion for Peterson.

            Using your logic, Deion Sanders couldn’t play man either because he was used in a similar way to Sherman for his entire career. He was given his side of the field to shut down. It wasn’t until Revis and Ryan’s use of him that had a cornerback shadow opposing #1′s all game long that top cornerbacks began being deployed that way. But anyone that has watched Deion doesn’t doubt he’d be able to do it. You don’t hear people say, “no Deion is not the greatest corner of all time because he never demonstrated he couldn’t shadow opposing #1′s all game.” Deion shut down anyone who dared try to catch on his side. Similarly, Sherman does too, and has also proven elite in the handful of times that he was playing off man coverage and was targeted. Everything he’s been tasked to do Sherman has done well. Peterson not so much.

          • Anonymous

            @arias:disqus

            The article clearly states that Peterson’s logged snaps at LCB were statistically significant, which if you didn’t know the meaning of it, means that he played there enough for it to be a relevant measure of his play there while Sherman’s logged snaps at anywhere BUT LCB were NOT statistically significant. This is not arbitrary. PFF didn’t deem Sherman as having played enough snaps anywhere else for it to be comparable.

            There are some undeniable facts in this article which you seem to be trying to deny.

            1. Peterson lined up against the other teams #1 receiver 55% of the time. Sherman lined up against him 27% of the time (less then half).

            2. Peterson’s coverage grade when playing only LCB was just as good as Sherman’s LCB coverage grade (again both sets of these data were considered statistically significant by PFF)

            3. Sherman didn’t record a SINGLE game where PFF deemed that he followed a #1 receiver for a majority of the game. (This fact makes it safe to assume that when he did line up against a #1, it was at LCB. Yes we realize there was 2 plays given as an example of when he tracked somewhere not at LCB)

            4. 5 total plays where Sherman recorded a slot grade cannot be viewed the same as 16 (slot) and 41 (RCB) plays where Peterson recorded a coverage grade.

            5. None of this means that Sherman CAN’T perform well anywhere besides LCB, it just means that while there some examples of him having success (2 gifs provided), PFF’s view is that he hasn’t played a significant amount of time proving that he CAN.

          • eYeDEF

            You know what, I’m an idiot for missing the graphic with the numbers of plays posted on there. That’s what I get for pulling up just the text to this to read on my phone. So you’re completely right on all that. Sorry for going on and on while ignorant of the data.

            The only caveat I’d ask is that when Peterson played LCB were they playing a zone or did he line up at LCB and still play cover one? There’s one glaring case I can think of where a great man corner could not transfer his skills to play in a zone … Nnamdi.

  • Chris

    One of the best articles I’ve ever read on this site. I love stuff about defensive schemes, and DBs in particular. The only thing I wish was added was snap counts showing where each of the players compared lined up, instead of just targets. Allowing 3 catches on 4 balls for 1 TD in the slot looks bad, but it certainly gives a different result if it’s on 4 snaps or 400 snaps.

    • LightsOut85

      This was my thought too. (It is when receiver articles exclude RR too). Just based on past analysis I would guess it wouldn’t change the relative ranking (among the group) much, but it would still provide a bit clearer analysis if we had cover-snaps. (It would also just give us an additional stat – target% (maybe someone was not targeted much but gave up a good QB rating when he was)).

      • Chris

        The target % is very important in my opinion. That’s what I was hinting at with that last line. Stats are only useful if they stand on their own – in this case they don’t.

        Slot comparison:

        Haden: 3 catches on 4 targets for 12 yards, 1 TD, 118.8 QB Rating
        Sherman: 2 catches on 5 targets for 22 yards, 1 INT, 18.2 QB Rating

        Yea Haden’s numbers don’t look good. But what if those 3 catches/1 TD came on 400 snaps in the slot tracking #1 WRs? I’d say that’s pretty damn phenomenal. Whereas Sherman’s 2 catches/1 INT could have come on 15 snaps against inferior competion.

        Snap counts are essential for DBs more than anyone because when they do their job right they aren’t even targeted.

        • LightsOut85

          Exactly. It’s a head-scratcher as to why they weren’t included. It’s only 1 extra row, so it’s not like it would have made the chart “messy”. (Could we get an update, Sam? :D If only on the chart (& not the article))

  • ThinkerT

    I love good analysis, but this article contains many logical flaws:

    - No player is going to play 100% every down. Even the best get beaten on occasion. Picking one play where Peterson was beaten isn’t a “major problem”. If plays like that happen consistently, THEN it’s a major problem. I’m sure I could find at least one play where Sherman was beaten as well.

    - Comparing individual TDs given up is only part of the analysis in this situation because of the coverage requirement disparity. One point of trying to have a lockdown CB is so that the other team never gets an uneven matchup elsewhere, so you’d have to compare total defensive passing TDs given up for it to be valid. If Sherman gives up far fewer TDs than Peterson, but the other CBs on Sherman’s team give up twice as many as on Peterson’s team because of the matchup disparity with them (because Sherman’s not always on the best guy), doesn’t that change the equation? I’m certain that the Seahawks would come out rather well in that due to their overall dominant defense, but the fact that it’s not even considered here renders the analysis flawed, IMO.

    - “Peterson’s passer rating allowed while playing left corner alone was a pretty ridiculous 9.9.” It’s interesting that this is mentioned briefly but then glossed over. Much more is made of Sherman’s stats when not in his normal position, but the part with Haden and Peterson’s performance playing Sherman’s role is mentioned in one or two sentences and no point is made from them like it is with Sherman playing another role. It would seem that Haden and Peterson’s performance when asked to do exactly what Sherman is asked to do would be very relevant to the discussion.

    Sherman is obviously a great CB and one of the top 3 in the game. But this article seems to be more intended as justification of a conclusion PFF has already reached rather than a complete analysis of the situation.

    • Chris from the Cape

      Peterson’s 9.9 in semi regular duty at LCB was very very impressive at any case, but for all the hype for him covering guys away from that position, the fact is that he stinks at it.

    • Chris

      This really should be a series of articles in order to cover all the nuances within specific coverage alignments and situational analysis.

      1. The idea behind using Peterson to track a team’s #1 is to take him out of the game and let the rest of the defense account for the other threats with more numbers (ie and extra safety). If Peterson screws up, by design there’s no one waiting to bail him out so mistakes are amplified. If one of the other corners screws up in a bracket, at least there’s a safety to make the tackle and stop the play before it turns into a 50 yard TD.

      The idea is that Peterson can’t screw up if he plays this type of coverage. And if he does, the mistake has to be minor enough that he can recover and do damage control. He simply can’t allow that many TDs from mistakes. He allowed 7 TDs in 57 targets away from LCB and 0 TDs in 33 targets at LCB. Simple solution – keep him at LCB, where he’s clearly more effective.

      2. Now this gets interesting. If Peterson is kept at LCB, where he’s been more effective, does the rest of the defense suffer? I would say yes, but the trade-off is likely not significant. IE with most shutdown corners who aren’t named Revis, they aren’t perfect. Peterson screws up and allows TDs. If we give him the easier role at LCB, then the guys on the other side would screw up and allow the TDs.

      AKA if you aren’t capable of actually shutting down #1s across the field you’re hurting your defense, but that doesn’t mean that TD wouldn’t get allowed elsewhere. You hinted at this, saying that just because Sherman doesn’t allow TDs doesn’t mean they aren’t getting allowed over the middle by a LB or something. However, there are so many pieces/variables in coverage, starting with the different players/schemes used by teams, that is it even feasible to properly analyze? Even if the players were the same and Peterson was swapped for Sherman, would Sherman play as well for a different DC in a different system?

      Sherman plays as a part of a much more talented secondary (and defense altogether) than Peterson or Haden. They are largely one man shows who are leaned heavily upon to carry the load and make the whole defense play better than they should. Their individual skill allows the team to scheme elsewhere and be more successful, even if they do screw up occasionally. Sherman is not the only talented piece in his secondary, which depending on the progression of Maxwell could contain 4 Pro Bowlers. I was never big on Browner or Thurmond, but there’s no denying Thomas/Chancellor is one of the best safety combos ever.

      How good would Peterson look playing next to those guys? That’s the most important part of this analysis, and it’s the one thing we can’t test.

      3. Peterson’s 9.9 is tremendous. Comparing only their roles at LCB, the role Sherman plays almost entirely, is the best way to compare these players. However what this doesn’t take into account is the skill of the other players in the defense, and equally importantly how those snaps came. Did Peterson get to play LCB in more favorable situations based on down/distance and how Arizona’s opponent was lining up? I’d like to see some more analysis done with this.

      • eYeDEF

        2. But you’re blowing off the fact that Arizona still had a top defense and the top rush defense in the league. You’re also inflating the ‘safety help’ he gets by ignoring the fact that the Seahawks still choose to leave Sherman on an island while Thomas cheats toward the other side. Seattle plays mostly a cover 3 and on occasion a cover 1 man, so Chancellor plays in the box while Thomas is the single high safety and only guy that would be providing any ‘help’ in the way the term is used, not the both of them.

        3. I could say the same thing about Sherman’s 14.2 rating when playing off coverage outside of LCB. But it’s just not fair to draw any sort of conclusions based on such small sample sizes where rating discrepancy becomes so significant.

        • Anonymous

          They don’t leave Sherman on an island against the top receivers. They only leave him out there by him self when he’s covering the likes of Joe Webb.

          • eYeDEF

            That’s not true at all. Just watch the NFCC. They left him on an island against Crabtree, isolated, with no safety or linebacker anywhere close to him. The ‘help’ was all slanted to the other side to assist Maxwell. That’s why Kap decided he would take that matchup as opposed to going to the opposite side where all the other defenders were.

            They regularly leave him on an island because it’s preferable to leaving Maxwell exposed. Maxwell can be good, but he was regularly inconsistent in his coverage and he can’t play man.

          • Anonymous

            1:40 second mark. http://www.chatsports.com/minnesota-vikings/a/Richard-Sherman-to-Joe-Webb-Youre-a-Waste-of-My-Time-2-8860681

            That’s him on an island with Joe Webb. Guess what, Joe Webb is sorry so why is he even covering him. Also, you consider Crabtree a “top receiver”, which he’s not. He had one 1,000 yard season. Extremely average career otherwise. Also the article provides two examples. Big deal that’s 2 plays out of nearly a thousand. They don’t “destroy any argument”. The numbers prove FOR FACT that he “tracked #1′s” about HALF as much as the others did.

            Maybe they regularly have him on an island on his third of the field but that’s the point. Only at very most 27% of the time was that an island against the #1 guy because that’s how often he tracked the #1 receiver.

            He’s a great corner, but his performance is slightly below what Darrelle Revis provided. And as for a comparison between Perterson and him, they don’t really play the same role.

          • eYeDEF

            Obviously when he’s covering his side of the field on an Island he’s going to be on that island whoever the receiver is that decides to run on his turf. I agree that Crabtree isn’t a top receiver, but my point is that they do leave him on an island against #1′s running on his side because safety or linebacker help is either stacked towards Maxwell or providing assistance near the box. You were the one claiming they don’t leave him on an island against top receivers, but then provided no example where he was covering a top receiver where they were providing him help. It doesn’t happen unless he’s having problems and that didn’t happen much last season. He had two poor games and gave up two touchdowns total. But in neither case did he start getting “help”. I’d agree that Revis is on the same level. But Peterson, absolutely no way. It doesn’t matter that they don’t play the same role, if the overwhelming statistical difference is unconvincing for you, you need look no further than the tape to see the discrepancy in their cornerback play. Peterson is inconsistent, suffers far too many lapses in concentration that lead to big plays from who he’s covering, and his footwork is poor giving him problems with receivers coming in and out of their breaks. His poor stats in opposing passer rating when targeted do a good job in complementing what can be seen of his play on game tape. He’s got the natural talent to be great, and he’ll put together flawless games here and there, but he’s really not on par with Revis or Sherman.

          • Anonymous

            @arias:disqus “…but my point is that they do leave him on an island against #1′s…”

            According to PFF, he only covers a #1 27% of the time. Fact right (according to them)? Based on that, the absolute MAXIMUM amount that he could even be on an island against the #1 is 27%. If the offense runs 65 plays per game, that’s 17 plays a game. It’s also doubtful that he was on an island for all of those 27% of plays, I don’t have exact numbers obviously but it’s a fair assumption to say he wasn’t cover zero on all those plays.

            But let’s assuming for arguments sake that he was: To me that’s STILL not on Revis’s 2009 level because he tracked something like 80% that season.

            And I’ve also be on here posting multiple times that Sherman performs his role better then Peterson performs his. But Peterson’s role is undeniably more difficult which is what makes Revis so amazing is that he actually had sustained success doing this.

            I’ve also been saying that based on PFF’s definition of statistically significant coverage amounts, Peterson performs equally as well at solely LCB and not so well otherwise. And also that Sherman hasn’t been asked to perform elsewhere (statistically significantly that is) but that doesn’t mean he isn’t able to just that there isn’t enough data to determine this yet.

            It’s fair to assume that if Peterson only had to play LCB, he’d be extremely successful.

  • Anonymous

    A few things I’d like to point out:

    1. When Revis posted that ridiculous +33.2 coverage rating in 2009, they did not have Cromartie on the team, they had Lito Shepard and bunch of very average CB’s and Safties. That 2009 year is the standard bearer for the term “Shutdown Corner” and, as Rex Ryan put it in the past, was really the first time a No. 1 corner shadowed a No. 1 receiver on virtually every play. As Matt Bowen put it, most teams would use the No. 1 corner on an island against the No. 2 WR. Precisely the way Deion Sanders was used most often, and now Sherman.

    It was Rex’s scheme and Revis’s incredible talent that made the trend of “Shadowing the No. 1 WR” fashionable, which is why great corners like Sherman, Peterson, Haden all get compared to that. Sherman had some incredible numbers, but Revis’s 2009 is possibly the greatest year a corner has ever had in the history of the NFL (and somehow he didn’t win DPOY). 6 INT’s (plus 2 more in the playoffs including holding Chad Ochocino to ZERO catches), something like 40 passes defended and a ridiculously low passer rating against on something like 90 targets. I would say those are equally as “gaudy” (as the writer put it) to Sherman’s 2013.

    2. As the article points out, while they are great players Peterson and Haden don’t perform the “shadowing” job as well as Revis performed it on the Jets and certainly don’t perform as well as Sherman performs his job. While yes, the “Shadowing of the No.1″ is a harder job for the individual player (great point about the burden it puts on the rest of the team), you still have to perform. Not saying they didn’t because for the most part they did, but when you’re comparing “who’s the best”, how well you did your job, and what your job actually is are BOTH factors.

    3. I would love to see Sherman shadow No. 1′s. Then we’d see who’d come out on top with all 4 guys playing the same role but sadly, which two great safties back there and their cover-3 base scheme, it doesn’t really make sense for Seattle to switch their scheme up (clearly whatever they’re doing is working for them).

    I’d personally pick Revis just based on what I saw from 2008-2012 on the Jets (and even last year making the pro bowl while still not fully back and playing on a terrible team, but if he isn’t able to get back to that level and Sherman produces another great season then you’d have to tip your hat to him.

    • Scott@Seattle

      PFF grade is not a good tool to grade corners. The perfect corner would have a PFF grade of 0 because nobody would throw at him.

      • Chris

        That’s not true I’ve seen Dalton force it into AJ18 when he wasn’t open plenty of times.

        • Scott@Seattle

          Tight coverage is not the ultimate in corner play. Interceptions are. Thats why Richard Sherman was the least targetted CB in the NFL. I’m sure Revis will grade out higher than Sherman this season, but it will be wrong.

          • Anonymous

            Scott@scottseattle:disqus, that’s just wrong. Tight coverage AND Interceptions AND tackles AND consistency, and etc, etc, etc. are the ultimate in corner play. If a corner goes out and gives up 3 TD’s, but ends up getting an interception as well does that mean he had a good game? No. It means he made one good play. The coverage grade is relative; you assume +2.0 is “not enough” to reflect to the “game shattering” of a pick 6, but clearly given how rarely that grade is assigned it is likely that a pick 6 is in fact a +2.0 grade. The grading system is all relative. It could be based on a 100 point scale but then everyone’s grades would increase and decrease relatively.

          • Scott@Seattle

            You’re making my point for me. Getting burned for a TD should be more than -2.0 also. I’m talking about the disparity of big plays against average plays. I’m talking about the difference between tight coverage grade on an overthrown ball vs the grade on pick6 or getting burned for a long TD. The arbitrary grading scale devalues big plays.

          • Anonymous

            Scott@Seattle you’re misunderstanding so let me provide you an example. A corner plays 2 plays in a given game. On one play he gets burned for an 80 yard TD on the other he gets a pick 6 for an 80 yard TD. The first play is -2.0 and the second is +2.0 making his game score 0.0. Pretty average game right?

            The “value” in making a big play is the rarity in which the grade is received. They also factor in when in the game each play is made. So in my example above, if the corner gave up the TD when the score was tied at 0, that would receive a higher negative grade then, for example, the pick 6 coming with his team winning by 28. So for example, Sherman’s pick 6 against Houston probably received a 2.0 given the context of the game.

            Read this then you might understand more. Is the grading perfect? No but it’s pretty fair and logical:

            https://www.profootballfocus.com/about/grading/

          • Scott@Seattle

            How else do you explain Richard Sherman being rated only +12 yet being in the top 10 best players? Even PFF doesnt trust their own rating system.

            What i am saying is that the grades for good plays is way too close to the grade for great plays. That the risk-reward system inherent in the grading rewards taking no risks. That the players who score highest with the PFF system are players who are the most consistent not the greatest.

          • SRokej

            The grades given are relative to each position they are given to. For instance, we can’t directly compare JJ Watt’s +100 grade this year to Revis’ +33 grade in ’09, even though they are the best grades given to people at their respective
            positions, because the grades aren’t for the same position. We see that PFF understands this when they do list Sherman in their top 10 players even though he only has a +12 grade, because they understand that +12 grade for a cornerback is actually a really good grade compared to his peers at the same position.

          • Scott@Seattle

            Wrong, he wasnt even the highest rated cornerback. Just looking at the list of free agent CB’s 3 were rated higher.

          • SRokej

            Quickly reading over why Sherman was listed so highly on their top 101 players was because “when the lights came on for the postseason though Sherman raised his game to another level.”

            In any case, my point still stands, they said with a +8.8 grade Sherman was the 6th ranked cornerback, but that doesn’t mean he is over 10 times worse than JJ Watt who graded over 100, we can’t compare grades across different positions like that.

            However, among players in the same position, the grades can be used the differentiate them. The grading puts him at 6th among cornerbacks during the regular season, which is respectable, good even. Considering there were definitely times when Sherman got beat last year, like the one touchdown against the Vikings the last year, or against the Texans when Andre Johnson beats him pretty badly with a double move for a big first down, or for one or two touchdowns in the Colts game, he was graded among the very best cornerbacks, and then played even better than that during the postseason.

      • Anonymous

        No true. The PFF grade takes into account plays in coverage where the corner was not targeted, targeted, completions against, TD’s allowed, yards allowed, passes defended, interceptions, forced fumbles, and fumbles recovered. It also takes into account how a CB fared in running plays.

        • Scott@Seattle

          You could be right about that, but i thought the grades came out before the all 22 was available? Plus how do you grade a corner when the ball isnt thrown there? He should get even higher grades if he’s letting guys get open but the QB is still afraid to throw it there. Its impossible to grade the intimidation factor.

          • Chris

            They do come out before All 22. But they also adjust grades on Wednesday-ish, probably because they took a look at All 22 and saw things they couldn’t before.

            And they grade based on successes and fails. A blown coverage where a guy drops the ball is a -2.0 (hello Cromartie). A play where a guy mirrors the WRs route and the ball isn’t even thrown should get a positive of some sort, because that is a successful play by the CB.

          • Scott@Seattle

            Well my point is how do you know how good the coverage is if the ball isnt thrown? There is always a subjective element to the grading. Also there are fundamental issues with the grading system itself. It rewards a player for consistent but unspectacular play since every play has a maximum of -2/+2. You could give up 3 receptions, and then get a game shattering pick6 and come away with a negative grade.

          • Chris

            The standard is +2/-2, but they do make exceptions.

            And it depends on the nature of each play. If he plays bad coverage and isn’t targeted, his grade won’t be as bad as if he did get targeted and gave up a catch.

          • Scott@Seattle

            If tight coverage is worth +2, then an interception should be +50 and a pick6 should be +100. If you’re going to adequately reward players for making game changing plays.

          • Jack Casey

            Tight coverage isn’t worth +2. Read their explanation of grading. +2.0 is given at a 0.01% clip. So about 1 of every 10,000 grades.

            Consider there are 22 players eligible for grades every play. That means it would take 454 plays on average for one player to get a 2.0 grade. With an average of roughly 65 snaps per offense a game, on average it would take 3.5 full games for one player to be given a 2.0 grade. I believe the numbers are the same for -2.0.

            If 0.0 is average, then “tight coverage” would assumably receive a grade of +0.5 or +1.0

          • Scott@Seattle

            I’m sure you’re correct but that doesnt invalidate my point. Even if its only +.5 for tight coverage a legit interception should be way more than +2 in relation. The players who score best in PFF grading are the most consistent not the best.

        • pbskids4000

          That’s just not true. For example, week 14 Cardinals v. Rams. Patrick Peterson was targeted 0 times while in coverage for 36 snaps, yet his coverage grade was -0.3. They only grade when they are targeted therefore it is a very flawed system.

      • Hannah Hayes

        That is not how the grading works.

      • Jack Casey

        That’s not true. Even Sherman said “the best corners trick QBs into thinking receivers are open. Then they get picks.”

    • Chris

      1. I wouldn’t say Revis had average teammates in 2009. Leonhard graded as the 3rd best safety in coverage that year while Rhodes was 10th. And only 5 teams had a better #2 CB than Sheppard, who graded 21st overall. Not to take anything away from Revis, but that isn’t exactly a slouch cast.

      I do agree that Revis is still the only CB to be able to track #1s away from his natural position and still play at a high level. He’s the only one who’s ever proven to possess the ability to do it. Peterson and Haden have seen their performance suffer, while Sherman hasn’t been asked to do it. Key word hasn’t been asked to.

      Revis’ 2009 is definitely the standard. Being elite at LCB is certainly admirable, but to be elite while tracking #1s all across the field, and allowing your teammates more flexibility, is the gold-standard. Only Revis has done it.

      2. I would say Peterson and Haden are attempting to do what Revis did. However they aren’t as skilled and they screw up when forced to move around and consistently face #1 WRs. It is a harder role, and mistakes are amplified. But how can you say Peterson didn’t perform as well as Sherman when he posts a 9.9 QB Rating at LCB, the position Sherman solely plays?

      3. The fact that Revis still led all CBs in overall grade (5th in coverage) while playing with the abominations that are Johnthan Banks, Leonard Johnson, and Dashon Goldson is incredible. He’s only 28 (29 at season start) and should still have at least 2 good years left. And now he’s playing for a better team with one of the best schemers in the game.

      He is still the gold standard in terms of CBs. He won’t be as good as he was in the past, but he’s still better than Sherman, who doesn’t play as complicated a role.

      Props to Peterson and Haden for trying to shadow – it’s probably the hardest thing to do on defense. Now whether it’s beneficial to their team to have them shadow is up for debate, but that wasn’t the point of this article.

      • Anonymous

        Thanks for responding Chris. It seems like we agree on some things and disagree on others. Makes for good debate.

        To continue the debate:

        1. From a schematic standpoint, it’s natural those guys would grade better because of Revis’s presence. They blitzed on a crazy amount of dropbacks that year and loaded coverage away from Revis. So the Leonards and the Shepards of the team didn’t have to cover as long, and they were able to bracket lesser skilled receivers. However, the reason they even got Cromartie in the first place was that eventually, those guys got exposed in the 2009 AFC Championship game by the Colts who had multiple receiving threats, they felt they needed an upgrade and it worked in terms of beating able to beat Manning and Brady the next year, although they still fell short of the ultimate goal.

        2. I was saying Peterson didn’t perform his role (which includes not JUST playing LCB) as well as Sherman performed his because he got beat often when not just staying to LCB. Maybe if he just stuck to that side this debate would be different. When comparing the two, it’s not apples to apples that’s all I was saying. If we’re comparing just LCB stats then yes Peterson and Sherman would be comparable. Agreed the shadowing is the much harder job, especially when you don’t have Earl and Kam back there.

        3. Agreed and as a Revis fan I’m optimistic he’ll return the level where he’s the undisputed #1 corner in the NFL. But I’m just saying it’s only even a debate who the best is now because he was injured in 2012 and not fully back in 2013.

        To reply to RealPhil, Charles Woodson is a HOF player and the Packers did win the SB. But that has nothing to do with Individual Awards for a single season. I wasn’t disrespecting Woodson. Revis’s numbers were comparable to Woodson’s that season, and Woodson got beat FAR more often. He took more chances and made more plays but also gave up more plays. He had sacks. Big deal. Revis never got the chance to get a sack because his coverage was so unbelievable that they didn’t dare ever take him out of coverage. He literally changed the way playing corner is viewed, graded and evaluated. The only reason we’re sitting here talking about “shadowing the No. 1″ and comparing who’s the best and taking into context the role in the defense is because of what Revis did in 2009.

    • PhilReal

      “but Revis’s 2009 is possibly the greatest year a corner has ever had in the history of the NFL (and somehow he didn’t win DPOY).”

      Probably because a Hall of Fame player had his best season, but way to disrespect a guy that did everything on his defense. (and won a superbowl, unlike Me-vis).

  • Scott@Seattle

    I agree 100% with the articles major points and have said the same things myself. I would say in defense of Patrick Peterson that he got hurt returning a punt and was clearly not himself when he got burned by Golden Tate.