Arizona’s Patrick Peterson is having the best season of his career

Carson Palmer and Tyrann Mathieu may generate the buzz, but Patrick Peterson is quietly posting impressive numbers for the Cardinals.

| 11 months ago
(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)

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.

| Senior Analyst

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

  • FidyCent

    Keep right on and overlook the AZ defense. That plays right into their hands.


    I think Bethel and Peterson form a solid duo. I really do not have confidence in powers as a starting corner but do like him playing slot receivers and as a third player. What separates Bethel is the way he tackles and his aggressive play.

    • Splash

      I totally agree with you. Bethel needs to be on the field as the second corner. A couple of times last week against the Rams he could have picked the pass off if he would have trusted his instincts. He needs the time on the field now to tune that for the playoff run. I do not belive that Powers will be back next year and Bethel needs the reps and is playing better than powers this year.

    • Bill Doerr

      I agree , Bethel is a beast. PFF ranks Bethel 28th overall of 116 CBs, and he ranks 24th in pass coverage, Bethel has played all season and allowed just 2TDs & has been a starter the last 3 , with 1INT & 6 Passes defensed. Peterson has allowed just 44% of passes thrown his way to be completed, which is the 2nd n NFL as the second lowest percentage in the NFL & Patrick Peterson’s 43.7% allowed completion percentage ranks as the LOWEST in the NFL.
      Bethel at 6″1/210 pounds with 4.39 speed & 43inch vertical leap has Elite speed & Athleticism & is bigger, faster and more athletic than Jerraud Powers. Arians needs to leave 2X Pro Bowler , CB Justin Bethel as the starter over Powers. When Powers heals up it would be a MASSIVE MISTAKE to put Powers back as the starter. Arians and GM Steve Keim just signed Bethel to 3yr/16 million dollar deal for a reason, LET EM PLAY …..

  • Bill Doerr

    Peterson is playing at a 1st team All-Pro Elite level & is hands down THE BEST CB in the NFL this season in my opinion.

  • Seth

    I want to see where josh norman stand now with everything he has aloud these past 2 games hahahaha