Arizona's Patrick Peterson is having the best season of his career
Patrick Peterson has been all over the map when it comes to the debate of elite cornerbacks in the NFL.
While players such as Richard Sherman and Chris Harris were virtual lockdown corners, Peterson came into this season having allowed 21 touchdowns over the previous three seasons. By contrast, Sherman had allowed four and Harris just three over the same period.
Peterson actually graded well over 2012 and 2013, but last season we saw him play poorly while struggling with an illness and an injury. Even at his best, he seemed way short of the truly elite player that was expected. But this season, Peterson is back and he’s approaching his best play and full potential. He’s allowed just one touchdown through 13 weeks of play, and just 47.9 percent of the passes thrown into his coverage have been caught.
Only Josh Norman has allowed fewer yards among full-time starters than the 302 Peterson has surrendered this season, while quarterbacks throwing his way have a passer rating of just 57.8 — third-best mark among starting corners.
Eight times this season Peterson has given up just two or fewer catches and he’s surrendered more than 50 receiving yards just once, all the way back in Week 2. Four times this season, Peterson has given up zero yards or better (in Week 4 he allowed one catch, but it lost yardage) and he has yet to allow a receiver to catch five passes — an astonishing number.
Some of that can be explained by the receivers he’s faced, but Peterson held A.J. Green to two catches for 24 yards on the six passes sent his way when covering Cincinnati’s best weapon. He also held Antonio Brown to almost identical numbers (2-for-26 on six targets) when Arizona played the Steelers, albeit with a Michael Vick/Landry Jones quarterback combination throwing him the ball.
This week was as significant as anybody has been able to get to Peterson all season, and it basically boiled down to one half-decent gain from Tavon Austin and very little else. If you set aside that one 24-yard play, Peterson allowed only 16 yards on five other targets during the win against the Rams and was very much a tough place to go with the football, explaining his counterpart Justin Bethel’s 10 targets on the other side of the field.
The Arizona defense has been a little overlooked with the MVP-caliber season that Carson Palmer is enjoying, but with Peterson arguably having his best season as a professional and Tyrann Mathieu playing at a defensive player of the year level, the Cardinals’ secondary can and will take total control of a football game.