Packers choose not to test Sherman

| 3 years ago

Packers choose not to test Sherman

PFF-headlinesIt 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.

| Senior Analyst

Sam is a Senior Analyst at Pro Football Focus, as well as a contributor to ESPN and NBCSports.

  • davathon

    Looks like Sherman might eat his words telling Revis to “get his interception numbers up”. You can’t pick passes when people don’t throw at you. Sherman’s on pace for 0 INTs this year.

    • Chris

      Packers on pace for 0-16.

    • willyeye

      It would be one thing if this strategy worked, but it was an utter fail. This was Rodgers’ 3rd lowest yardage total in almost 4 years. Nelson, arguably the best receiver in the league last year, was held to 9 receptions for only 83 yards…his 9.22 y/r, was his 4th lowest average in almost 4 years. BTW, Sherman intercepted over 14% of the passses thrown in his coverage area last year. I think Revis had the second best percentage of interceptions and it was like 8.6%. Also, There are a lot of QB’s in the NFL who are nowhere near as good as Rodgers, and they will be throwing a LOT of interceptions to the CB’s covering the left side if they try to use this strategy.

  • Aldo Gandia

    One of several mistakes by Coach Mike McCarthy

    • Brian Bigger

      How so? I won’t be surprised if this will happen often this year. Football is a game of matchups and the other CB’s provide much better matchups when you can put your receivers wherever you want.

      • Aldo Gandia

        You have to keep a defense honest. By choice, the Packers closed of an 1/8th of the field. There should have been some hitch passes to Cobb thrown his way. Rodgers has the best release in the game. McCarthy chose to have Devonte Adams on the right for most of the game and thereby have Sherman guard the rookie for over 50% of the time. That maybe was smart, but still – don’t close off the right side of the field for the entire game.

  • Chris

    Revis > Sherman

    Not even a comparison. Keep locking down #3 receivers, Sherman.

    • eYeDEF

      Are you aware that the Patriots will be using Revis this year to lock down one side just like Sherman is asked to? So if your argument is similar to the Hines Ward one, it won’t really be an excuse for not comparing them directly this year. I think they’re in the same league, it’s an interesting debate to have and I can’t say I know who is better. But to say there’s not even a comparison is just delusional.

      • Chris

        Who cares about this year. Revis has done what I described for many years. We know he has the ability to lock down #1s and erase them from the game plan. Sherman has never done this in his career.

        Game set match Revis.

        • GI Styles

          How many rings did that get him?

          • Chris

            Super Bowl is a team achievement, troll.

          • [email protected]

            You have a very simplistic view of defense, like everybody is just out there playing man. That simply never happens, they are always using muddy coverages and trying to disguise what they do. Even a team like the Seahawks who plays a relatively simple scheme makes a myriad of subtle adjustments that make the defense work.

        • asdf

          sherman has very favorable numbers when 1s have lined up across from him. the only guy he’s struggled with is Andre Johnson.

          • eYeDEF

            That’s not true. Andre Johnson had 3 catches for 44 yards against him last year. He did struggle against TY Hilton last year and Brandon Marshall the year before though.

        • eYeDEF

          Only as a limitation in scheme, not ability.

        • willyeye

          Revis definitely couldn’t do it last year at Tampa. He also couldn’t do it in 2012, because he was on the bench, injured. The reality is that Revis has only 21 interceptions in 7 seasons…Sherman has 20 interceptions in just 3 seasons. Sherman has made a play that singlehandedly won a game & took his team to the SB…it’s also not the only game he singlehandedly won. Revis has not even come close to accomplishing such things. Revis can shadow & cover #1 WR’s…Sherman has done it plenty of times, they just don’t ask him to do it very often…he does what he’s asked to do. True, he locked down a #3 receiver Thursday night, but he also took away 50% of the field from Aaron Rodgers. It worked too…Rodgers did not have a very good game. You could almost say Sherman beat the Packers by himself. Sherman left 10 guys to cover 50% of the field from arguably the best QB in the game…and it worked.

          Game, set, match Sherman.

          • Anonymous

            Reggie Wayne, 1 catch for 1 yard in the playoffs against Peyton Manning in Indianapolis. Only targeted him 4 times. 1 catch for 1 yard. Colts only scored 16 points, the TD was off an interception and the Jets one.

            You could say Revis singlehandedly won that game for the Jets. That’s just one of many examples. The Jets also did come close to getting to the SB. Their offense just wasn’t as good as Seattle’s is now so to say “Revis has not even come close to accomplishing such things” is preposterous.

        • eYeDEF

          Revis didn’t do it last year while playing in Tampa’s zone. He didn’t do it the year before that he missed from injury. So if you’re trying to argue for pre-injury Revis when he was playing for the Jets from at least 3 seasons ago when Sherman was a rookie, then I think you’re mistaken. You just double faulted.

          • Chris

            That is literally the weakest argument I’ve ever heard.

            Revis has done it. Doesn’t matter if he was injured one year or his coach didn’t ask him to the next. He’s done it and he was the best at it. He has the skills, he’s proved that. Sherman is nothing but the leagues best zone corner, which is like saying so and so is the hottest fat chick at the bar.

          • eYeDEF

            Yeah I guess since you’re permanently living in the past it’s not going to make a lot of sense to you. But using your broken logic, Deion Sanders was only just a zone corner too since he was used in a similar way that Sherman has been. FYI he just happens to be considered the greatest corner of all time, not the “hottest fat chick at the bar”. It wasn’t until Rex Ryan designed his defense around Revis that the whole concept of having your best corner shadow opposing #1’s suddenly came into vogue. Which again, Revis this year, last year, or the year before has not done and will not do. You’re living in the past son.

          • Anonymous

            And what does that say about how good Revis has been in his career that he literally changed the way the position is viewed/graded?

            Maybe post-injury Sherman is equal to him, but not since Deion have we seen the level Revis was at pre-injury and he did that from 2008 (started really getting noticed in 2009 when Rex came to NY) to 2011 (4 seasons).

            Also, Revis had 14 INT’s (17 including playoffs) in his first 3 seasons. Then they literally stopped throwing at him like what’s happening to Sherman now. He made 1st team All-Pro without recording a single INT. THAT’s cutting the field in half, oh not against Jarrett Boykin, against Calvin Johnson, etc.

          • eYeDEF

            Actually it says more about Rex Ryan changing the way the position is played than Revis. Having your best corner opposing #1’s is only effective if there’s a major disparity between your #1 corner and #2 corner, or if the opposing team has a dominant #1 receiver and a relatively weak #2 receiver. Otherwise it’s not as effective to scheme that way, which is why you see New England and Arizona going back to using their best corners on one side of the field. BTW, shadowing #1’s all over the field is NOT cutting the field in half. You have no idea what you’re talking about. The reason why Sherman cuts the field in half is because not only is he eliminating QBs throwing into his third of the field in zone, but also half of Earl’s single high middle third since Earl is cheating heavily towards the other side. That doesn’t apply in man to man.

          • Anonymous

            You’re just plain wrong. You think Rex would have used any corner in that fashion if they weren’t good enough to do it? No. Look what happened when Dallas tried to man up Calvin last year. He torched them for 300 receiving yards.

            Also, my point was clearly, the Jets having their #1 corner shadow the other team’s best was effective for them. It all depends on personnel. Ask the current Jets secondary if it’s better for them to play man or zone. The answer is really neither because they don’t have good corners.

            Also, Revis tracked this past week and look how that worked out for them.

            Also, lining up against the best receivers and dominating them (yes he dominated them) is absolutely cutting the field in half. If he lines up on the right, he cuts the offenses left in half. If he lines up on the left, he cuts the offenses right in half. It only works if your guy is good enough. There’s little doubt it worked with Revis.

            So my point is Sherman at his best does not compare to Revis at his best and it’s really not even remotely close. Maybe now that Revis is a little older it’s more even but his peak is worse then Revis’s peak (assuming he’s even past his best) and only now are they 1a and 1b.

          • eYeDEF

            You missed my point. Here, try and read it again more slowly this time:

            Actually it says more about Rex Ryan changing the way the position is played than Revis. Having your best corner opposing #1’s is only effective if there’s a major disparity between your #1 corner and #2 corner, or if the opposing team has a dominant #1 receiver and a relatively weak #2 receiver. Otherwise it’s not as effective to scheme that way, which is why you see New England and Arizona going back to using their best corners on one side of the field.

            Of course Rex wouldn’t have designed his defense around Revis initially if he wasn’t worthy. But you still missed my point. Having your #1 corner shadow #1 receivers all over the field is effective when you’ve got a weak #2 corner so you can prevent opposing #1 receivers exploiting that weak corner. So it made sense for Rex because in ’07 David Barrett was considerably weaker at CB than Revis. By the time Cro was playing opposite of him he was in his 4th year and had played well in man so Rex kept the two corners shadowing. But that’s not the most efficient way to defend if you’ve got two decent corners. It’s why Sherm isn’t used to shadow and why Belichick doesn’t use Revis that way.

            It’s clear that you don’t understand the difference between man and zone defense for you to claim that tracking a #1 all over the field is ‘cutting the field in half’. No it is not. You are not providing your teammates any tactical advantage to cheat towards the other side and play 10 guys on half the field like Sherman does if they avoid his side. You really have no idea what you’re talking about. There is no ‘cutting the field in half’ in man coverage in any sense of the term.

            No one matches pre-injury Revis’s technical proficiency in coverage. But Sherman still created more turnovers in his first 3 years than Revis did and it’s not even close. He’s also done his share of dominating opposing #1’s, so it really comes down to what you value more in a CB.