Cornering The Steelers Jets Corners
By David Todd of The Hammer Speaks
In Tables 1 & 2 we can analyze this season’s performance of the Steelers and Jets corners. The tables provided by Pro Football Focus are pretty straightforward. “TA” tells you how many times the opposing quarterback targeted each corner, “REC” is receptions and “%” is simply REC/TA. The rest includes yards, average yards/catch, “YAC” yards after catch, longest reception, touchdowns, interceptions and “PD” passes defended. “QBR” is quarterback rating and tells us how opposing QBs fared in their throws at each corner. Let’s take a look at what all this tells us.
From Table 1 we see that opposing quarterbacks were generally looking to target Bryant McFadden and nickel back William Gay more often than Ike Taylor even though their best receiver was usually covered by Taylor. This is no surprise, as Taylor had an excellent year, maybe his best ever (though he has suggested he was better in 2005). While Ike did give up the highest average/catch of the three corners, his 56.6% completion percentage-against was outstanding and he only gave up one TD, also outstanding. The 73.7 QBR-against shows just how good Taylor was. Statistically 73.7 would have fallen between 27th (Mark Sanchez) and 28th (Matt Hasselbeck) in QBR for the 31 quarterbacks who played enough to qualify this year. Overall his number is better than any of the corners playing this weekend, edging the more heralded Darrelle Revis.
The table doesn’t take into account defensive formation, so we don’t know if Gay was playing man coverage in the nickel package or playing right corner in place of McFadden which he did various times over the course of the season. McFadden\’s & Gay’s numbers weren’t nearly as good as Taylor’s. McFadden’s YAC of 196 works out to 1.8 yds/catch which is very solid, but his QBR-against of over 100 is higher than Ben’s 97.0 and he conceded six TDs. Gay fared even worse and was exposed in the slot on more than a few occasions. His QBR-against of 111.1 was above Tom Brady’s league-leading 111.0 and his 5 TDs-against in 69 targets is quite high.
In the Jets case the numbers pretty much confirm what we know. Opposing QBs targeted Antonio Cromartie twice as often as Darrelle Revis but both were excellent. Both registered completion percentages below 50% which is outstanding. The only negatives were Cromartie got beat for 8 TDs (and we saw Garcon of Indy beat him for another long one in the playoffs) and Revis has zero INTs. The other surprise is that both registered averages above 14.5 yards/catch. Drew Coleman, the Jets third corner, was frequently targeted when he was on the field and produced numbers and a QBR-against very similar to that of the Steelers’ McFadden.
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