Packers choose not to test Sherman
It takes an excellent corner to prevent the opposing offense from completing a pass on him. It takes an exceptional reputation to dissuade the opposing offense from even trying during a game. Last night Richard Sherman played 61 snaps, 41 of them in coverage, without even being targeted by the Packers.
That’s not unusual for Sherman who has taken over from Nnamdi Asomugha as the league’s least targeted corner, except without the benefit of playing the less targeted side of the defense and having much weaker teammates around him to draw the targets.
Last season Sherman was the least frequently targeted corner in football by some distance. He saw a pass come his way on average once every 9.6 snaps in coverage. Darrelle Revis was next on that list with a ball sailing his way once every 8.8 coverage snaps, and no other corner was above 7.7 snaps in coverage.
Even so, at that rate Sherman should have expected to see four targets in the game last night, and none came his way.
What makes this even more impressive is that the Seahawks actually take advantage of Sherman’s lockdown skills to lean coverage away from him and encourage teams to throw his way. That famous pass defensed against Michael Crabtree in the NFC Championship game…that was a correct read by Colin Kaepernick. The Seahawks had leaned the safety away from Sherman and left him on an island in man coverage. Isolated man coverage on the outside is what quarterbacks look for against their number one targets – when they see it they tend not to look any further in their progression.
This article from back in June shows a few images of how the Seahawks are able to use Richard Sherman to help out the rest of the defense without using him to track receivers like other teams have done with their stud corners.
If you’re wondering why Sherman’s grade wasn’t stellar to match this effect he had on last night’s game – he missed a routine tackle against Packers RB James Starks that hurt his overall grade.