In a sense, there is no such thing as an “accurate” ranking of the NFL’s best players — either overall or at any particular position.
Despite the best efforts of the people who create advanced statistics, there is no official formula. Ranking football players is rooted too deeply in the personal preferences and style choices of the person doing the ranking. And when you get into positions like offensive line and defensive back — where the numbers truly do not tell the whole story — you’re even less likely to come up with a universal order on which most people can agree. Continue reading
Earl Thomas, Richard Sherman
In the NBA, it’s called a “Big Three.” In the NFL, they’re called “triplets.”
When three star athletes end up on the same team, visions of championships start dancing in the heads of fans and media (and of course owners and general managers) as expectations and ticket prices climb higher and higher.
An NBA Big Three typically consists of three standout offensive playmakers. But due to the two-way nature of the game, it can still include a player whose bread-and-butter is his defense. Think Dennis Rodman with the 1990s Chicago Bulls, or DeAndre Jordan with the current-day L.A. Clippers.
In the NFL, a set of triplets is — at least according to the media and fans who come up with these labels — almost always made up of three offensive players. Continue reading
If you hadn’t heard it on the grapevine yet, Darrelle Revis is done.
The man who was widely considered the best cornerback in the NFL as recently as the beginning of last season — and is still widely considered one of the greatest of all-time at the position — apparently fell off in a big way in his big return to New York. Revis was so bad that some are saying he shouldn’t even play corner anymore; that he should be moved to safety so he won’t have to directly guard the NFL’s top receivers anymore.
Revis may really be in the process of an irreversible decline at 30 years old, but his peers around the NFL still think highly enough of him that Revis came in at No. 24 on the NFL Network’s ranking of the league’s top 100 players for 2016. Continue reading
Ike Taylor should be well acquainted with the benefits and detriments of sharing a secondary with a teammate who is headed for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Taylor’s 12-year career as a cornerback for the Pittsburgh Steelers began and ended with him playing alongside strong safety Troy Polamalu, an eight-time Pro Bowler who will go down in history as one of the game’s greatest defensive backs. Taylor (fourth round) and Polamalu (first round) were both chosen by Pittsburgh in the 2003 NFL Draft, and both retired following the 2014 season.
Thanks in no small part to Polamalu, Taylor played in three Super Bowls and won two of them. And Taylor probably had a bit of an easier time guarding some receivers because not many relished the idea of going across the middle with Polamalu patrolling that part of the field. Continue reading
Clearly, I think very highly of defensive backs. This article and this publication would not exist if I didn’t. And like anyone with any sense who appreciates DBs, I think very highly of Charles Woodson, the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year and Heisman Trophy winner who is retiring at the end of this season, his 18th as a professional.
But in response to a question that has been going around since Woodson announced his impending retirement on Dec. 21, I do not think Woodson is the greatest defensive player in NFL history. And that is primarily because he is a defensive back. Continue reading
Tags: Charles Woodson, Darrelle Revis, Deion Sanders, Ed Reed, Heisman Trophy, NFL, Richard Sherman, Rod Woodson, Ronnie Lott, Sean Taylor, Troy Polamalu
Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
Harrison Smith, FS, Vikings (NFL): Back on the field after missing the better part of three games with a knee injury, Smith — along with fellow returning starters LB Anthony Barr and DT Linval Joseph — sparked Minnesota’s defense in Sunday’s 49-17 rout of the Giants. Smith had five tackles and 35-yard interception return for a touchdown as the Vikings clinched a playoff berth and will next play the Packers for the NFC North title.
Jimmy Smith, CB, Ravens (NFL): Smith had a 101-yard pick-six that not only would’ve been the signature moment of Sunday’s 20-17 upset victory over the Steelers, it would’ve probably been the highlight of the Ravens’ season if it hadn’t been called back to to a teammate lining up offsides. Even without that play in the books, Smith still shined with one interception (that counted), two pass breakups, and limiting Pittsburgh star WR Antonio Brown to seven catches for 61 yards and no TDs. Continue reading
Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
Josh Norman, CB, Panthers (NFL): On paper, it was not on par with some of the “shutdown” performances he’s had against other elite NFL receivers. Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. did manage to catch six balls for 76 yards and a touchdown against Norman on Sunday, but OBJ was shut out in the first half and was so aggravated by Norman that he engaged in some slap-fighting reminiscent of Deion Sanders and Andre Rison, and later hit Norman with a helmet-to-helmet cheap shot that will earn him a fine from the NFL. Norman finished with three tackles and Carolina remained undefeated with a 38-35 victory.
Tevin Carter, S, Utah (NCAA): The Utes built a 35-0 lead in the first quarter of the Las Vegas Bowl on Saturday thanks to five BYU turnovers, including two interceptions by Carter. The senior safety returned his first INT 28 yards for a touchdown, then brought his second pick back 33 yards to the 1-yard line, which set up another Utah score. BYU rallied after that disastrous first quarter, but Carter and the Utes held on for a 35-28 victory. Continue reading
Tags: Calvin Pryor, Darrelle Revis, Deion Sanders, Josh Norman, Latrell Gibbs, Marcus Gilchrist, Marcus Peters, Marcus Williams, NCAA, NFL, Tevin Carter, Tyvon Branch, Will Hiteshue
Going into the 2015 season, the competition for the title of NFL’s Best Cornerback seemed like a clear two-man race between Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis. But midway through the schedule, Josh Norman of the Carolina Panthers has surprisingly played his way into the discussion.
The hierarchy at safety was, and has been, less obvious and more inclusive. Earl Thomas, Eric Weddle, Harrison Smith, Kam Chancellor, Tyrann Mathieu and Devin McCourty were all realistic contenders for NFL’s Best Safety going into the season. And now, Reshad Jones has been added to the list. Continue reading
One vintage Richard Sherman performance on a national TV stage was apparently not enough to land the man widely considered the best cornerback in football a starting spot on NFL.com’s midseason All-Pro team.
Sherman attached himself to Dez Bryant last Sunday and held the Cowboys’ star wide receiver to just two catches for 12 yards, recording four pass breakups and helping Seattle to a much-needed 13-12 victory. But as good as Sherman was in that game against one of the best pass-catches in the league, he has not been one of the NFL’s two best cornerbacks this season — at least not according to writer Chris Wesseling. Continue reading