Richard Sherman earns career-low PFF grade against Packers

The Seattle cornerback exhibited a rare "off" day against the Packers in Week 2.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

(AP Photo/Mike Roemer)

Richard Sherman earns career-low PFF grade against Packers


It finally came—an “off” day for cornerback Richard Sherman. Against Green Bay on Sunday, Sherman recorded his career-worst PFF grade.

If you only look at Sherman’s base statistics, you might wonder where a -3.2 grade comes from. He only gave up one reception all game in primary coverage, though he was cleanly beaten on that play (this is why grades will always trump statistics, even advanced ones).

The touchdown Sherman “gave up” was credited to Earl Thomas (-1.4) as primary coverage. With the Seahawks in their cover-3 shell, Thomas vacated the middle of the field when Aaron Rodgers started to move out of the pocket, allowing Packers receiver James Jones to run away from Sherman and into the space that should have been occupied by the free safety.

When the quarterback bails from the pocket like that, most teams will convert whatever coverage is being run into straight man-coverage for the resulting scramble drill. Instead of sticking to your zones, the opposing player in your zone at that moment becomes your focus; you “plaster” onto him and go where he goes. In this sense, Sherman still receives a downgrade on the play, because when the play becomes plaster for Sherman and everybody else, he should no longer expect help. He gets beat with Jones running away from him, but the ball is caught in the area that Earl Thomas should have been controlling, so both players receive negative grades for the play.

For his part, Thomas rolling to the side he did made sense, as most quarterbacks rolling out to one side of the field will throw to that side. Aaron Rodgers is not your typical quarterback, however; Thomas overplayed his hand and was caught out of place by the pass back to the area he had vacated.

But Sherman’s grade didn’t come from just that one play. He was also called for two coverage penalties, both on rookie wide receiver Ty Montgomery. He also missed a pair of tackles, one on a run play and one on a screen.

Much has been made of the fact that Sherman spent some time in the slot in Week 1, but against the Packers he lined up inside just three times; he filled his familiar spot of left corner on the other 68 defensive snaps. Moving around was not the cause of his poor performance in this game, and this is not some great indication that he cannot shadow receivers the way some of the other top corners in the league can.

What we saw last night is that even the league’s best corners get beat sometimes, and even a player as talented and consistently excellent as Richard Sherman can have a bad day at the office. When your competition is Aaron Rodgers, the league’s best quarterback, it’s especially easy to have that off night.

| Senior Analyst

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

  • Jeffrey Vietri

    Looked terrible last week, too. Burned by Tavon Austin, luckily for Sherman he was overthrown. Beat by Stedman Bailey, with help from Earl Thomas over the top. This defense simply is not the same powerhouse without the Thomas/Chancellor tandem. Want proof? Just watch the last two weeks. No fear in WR’s coming over middle, no fear for QB’s going right at Sherman.

    Sherman has received all of the media accolade for the past two seasons, we’re finding out now, that powerhouse relies on Chancellor/Thomas. He was beat a couple of times in coverage as well, and not targeted last night, thankfully for him.

    • Mike Sutton

      Sherman was thrown at twice yesterday….

    • john

      not true at all

      • Jeffrey Vietri

        The tape exists, you know that right?

        • john

          He wasn’t burned by tavon austin. I don’t know what tape you saw.

    • Darrell Robinson

      Problem with your assessment is Kam has nothing to do with Sherman’s coverage responsibilities. Cover 3 is has Sherman covering the deep outside third and Kam in the box covering hooks and flats. Their coverage doesn’t overlap and play into each other in any way. So any accolade Sherman gained it was because of him handling his coverage responsibilities. Only person who can have some affect is Thomas but his responsibility is the middle deep third. He only helps on top if he reads/reacts quick enough. Otherwise the corner is on an island. But Kam has nothing to do with it.

      • Blaze Gunn

        Haters who dont know football will always hate on sherman regardless of the truth they think because he has 2 pro bowl safeties on his team he must get alot of help when they don’t know coverages or seahawks schemes

  • sikologik

    Sherman is and always has been no better than a fifth round pick, despite his first round mouth. He consistently holds whoever he is covering at the LOS, and when he doesn’t do that, he gets beat like any other pedestrian cornerback in this league. The only difference in quality between him and someone like David Amerson is that Sherman has been able to parlay his very strong support into star power that now allows him to grab a handful of jersey once the ball is snapped.

    • Brandon

      You do realize that this site literally takes all the stuff into account that you are saying and is still saying that sherman is elite, right? Just because you dont like him doesnt mean that hes bad. Opinions are fine and good, but at the end of the day Sherman is top tier and your opinion has shaded your judgement far to much.

    • brendonkuhn

      Hilarious. This is classic “I don’t like a player, so I will follow any/every narrative out there that says he’s bad, even though he’s great”

    • osoviejo

      “Sherman is and always has been no better than a fifth round pick…”

      You’ll forgive me if I look elsewhere for enlightened football analysis.

    • mg1313

      Yep, that’s right, Super Bowl winning teams just love to make a living on giving #1 in the league CB money to pedestrian corners. That’s how you win a Super Bowl, dontchaknow, you act utterly incompetent.

      • Seahawks fan

        i think the problem with Seattle’s secondary is that the frontline isn’t putting enough pressure on the opposing quarterbacks.

    • Brandon Purdy

      Ok. You are right and the best analysts, QBs and coaches are all wrong. Coach draw up gameplans to avoid him but he is no better than a 5th rd pick. Come on man. The hate is so strong.

    • sikologik

      I won’t deny the fact that I believe Dick Sherman is a dick. That’s clearly true. I also stick by my analysis- which I’ve stuck by since day one. Take him out of that system and he’s mediocre on a good day. In fact, the first two weeks provide evidence. He got smoked by the Rams in overtime to set up the game winning field goal and he got smoked multiple times by the Packers for long balls. When the Packers didn’t outright smoke him, he was penalized for illegal contact, holding, or- on the long penalty- pass interference.

      Without Kam back there, Dick is pretty bad. It’s gonna be interesting to see what happens when either Dick leaves Seattle or that secondary splinters. Then, once the back-side support weakens, we’ll see what Dick is really made of.

  • Brian

    PFF, or anyone who watches enough Seattle games to know, I have wondered if Sherman, while no doubt good, was also a product of the “legion of boom” a great secondary overall that was greater than the sum of its parts. I was curious how Sherman would look now that Browner, Maxwell, Thurmond and currently Chancellor are gone. Is he the same old sherman, or being more exposed now that he has less help. I only ask because I dont see many Seattle games, but I recall ODB burning Sherman, and seeing him get beat a few times in other games.

    • Josh.0

      He’s mostly the same ol’ Sherman. He’s still a top CB in the league. The Seahawks typically play zone with Sherman covering one side of the field. This season, they’ve started moving Sherman around more, lining him up with #1’s, in the slot, etc. And the story goes he was given DAYS to learn about this change (the Monday before the Rams game).

      My arm-chair assessment is that he’s not a product of the LoB. He really is *that good* and was certainly that good before the LoB earned their reputation.

    • sikologik

      He’s not. He was burned for the game winner in OT at STL and he got beat like a red-headed step-child in Green Bay.

    • Tony L. Castleberry

      Nonsense. Why does no one say this about Revis even though he has ALWAYS had elite help with top defensive players on every team he has played on?

      Sherman is the best CB in the game and this does not change because he plays with the best safeties in the game.