It’s not like the Los Angeles Rams were a bad defensive team last season.
They ranked 12th out of 32 NFL teams in fewest points allowed (20.6 ppg) and 13th in fewest passing yards per game (217.2 ypg), helping them win the NFC West division title with an 11-5 record.
But after losing 26-13 in their playoff opener to the Atlanta Falcons, the Rams attacked the offseason by turning a solid defense into an amazing one — at least on paper. Continue reading
One of the most surprising moves of the NFL offseason was the Kansas City Chiefs trading cornerback Marcus Peters to the Los Angeles Rams.
Peters has been one of the league’s best since the Chiefs drafted him three years ago. He was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2015 and led the league with eight interceptions; he was first team All-Pro in 2016; and he led the league in interception return yardage in 2017, gaining 137 yards on five picks. Since entering the league, Peters’ 60.7 passer rating allowed is second-best to Jacksonville Jaguars CB A.J. Bouye.
Going into the 2018 season, Peters is slotted No. 79 on the NFL Network’s Top 100 player ranking, which is voted on by NFL players Continue reading
One sign that cornerbacks are getting more respect and recognition in the NFL these days is that, on the 2018 edition of the NFL Network’s Top 100 ranking, the 12 cornerbacks listed tied with defensive end for the most popular defensive position.
Another sign is that when Marshon Lattimore was voted NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year this past season, he became the second cornerback in the last three years to win the award.
Before that, the last corner to earn DROY honors was Charles Woodson in 1998. Prior to Marcus Peters winning DROY for 2015 and Lattimore winning it for 2017, only five other cornerbacks had their names on the trophy. Continue reading
The NFL playoff field is set — an eclectic mix of high-powered offenses (the Rams score a league-best 29.9 points per game) and stingy defenses (the Vikings allow a league-low 15.8 points per game), hotshot rookies (league rushing leader Kareem Hunt) and Hall of Fame locks who have been playing forever (Tom Brady), postseason regulars (Steelers) and teams that haven’t been to the playoff party in a long time (Bills).
Since they say defense wins championships, that means there are some defensive backs whose play will mean a lot in determining how the road to the Super Bowl is paved. Continue reading
Xavier Rhodes, Harrison Smith
After three seasons experimenting with a playground-style Pro Bowl where captains chose teams from a pool of the league’s top players, the NFL is returning to the traditional AFC-vs.-NFC format for its 2017 all-star game.
There are a couple of new wrinkles: The Pro Bowl will be held in Florida instead of Hawaii, and in the days leading up to the game there will be a “Pro Bowl Skills Showdown” that — hopefully — might be as cool as the old “NFL’s Fastest Man” and QB-challenge competitions I remember from when I was a kid.
Another Pro Bowl tradition is having a lot of players who are voted into the game being replaced by alternates. Continue reading
Tags: Aqib Talib, Eric Berry, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Harrison Smith, Landon Collins, Marcus Peters, NFL, Pro Bowl, Reggie Nelson, Richard Sherman, Xavier Rhodes
Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
Josh Norman, CB, Washington (NFL): The marketing, advertising and overall hype leading up to Sunday’s head-to-head matchup between Giants WR Odell Beckham Jr. and Washington CB Josh Norman reminded me of the now-infamous 1994 duel between Falcons WR Andre Rison and 49ers CB Deion Sanders.
That meeting was about Deion returning to Atlanta to face his former team and his just-as-flashy former teammate, Rison. That meeting started a sort of sibling rivalry of one-upmanship that turned into a (funny more than fierce) fight between the two stars.
This meeting between Beckham and Norman was about a blood rivalry that started last year, when arguably the two best players in the NFL at their respective positions faced each other and ended up trading cheap shots back and forth. And with Norman leaving Carolina for Washington in free agency, he and OBJ are now NFC East foes who will play each other twice a year. Continue reading
Tags: Andre Rison, Armani Watts, Deion Sanders, Harrison Smith, Josh Norman, Leo Musso, Marcus Peters, NCAA, NFL, Odell Beckham Jr., Stephon Gilmore
Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
Josh Shaw, DB, Bengals (NFL): The last time you probably heard Shaw’s name, it was in connection to the drama he created for himself at USC when he made up a story about jumping from a second-story balcony to save his drowning nephew, injuring both ankles in the process. (You could almost hear the “Baywatch” music in the background.)
Turns out, Shaw really hurt his ankle jumping from a balcony to avoid the cops. The injuries and accompanying suspension cost him all but three games of his senior season, but the Bengals still took Shaw with a fourth-round pick in the 2015 NFL Draft and have since utilized his talents as a versatile DB who can play corner and safety.
On Sunday, Shaw had his biggest game as a pro. Continue reading
Tags: Cam Newton, Chris Harris Jr., Colin Kaepernick, Eddie Jackson, Josh Shaw, Marcus Peters, Marshon Lattimore, national anthem protest, NCAA, NFL, Tyler Horton
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
Marcus Peters’ NFL career began with uncertainty. His rookie season ended with a certainty that no one should have doubted him in the first place.
“Character concerns” was the most popular phrase used around Peters in the 2015 pre-draft process. The 6-foot, 197-pound cornerback from Oakland, Calif., had been kicked off the team at the University of Washington during his junior season for disciplinary issues, a few weeks after he’d been suspended for throwing a tantrum on the sideline during a game.
The Kansas City Chiefs believed in Peters enough to make him the 18th overall pick in the first round, and as a rookie he finished with 60 tackles, eight interceptions (tied for the NFL lead), two INT returns for touchdowns, and one forced fumble. He helped the Chiefs make the playoffs and advance to the AFC divisional round, where they lost to the New England Patriots. 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