Six secondary standouts from football’s week that was:
1. A.J. Bouye, CB, Texans (NFL) — Bouye’s impressive individual stat line was part of a collective team shutdown of the Raiders’ passing game in Saturday’s AFC wild-card playoff game.
Houston’s top-ranked defense compelled Oakland rookie QB Connor Cook to post a paltry QB Rating of 5.5, while Pro Bowl WR Amari Cooper had just two catches for 10 yards and No. 2 receiver Michael Crabtree’s stellar season ended with a 2-reception, 33-yard thud.
Bouye had one interception in the Texans’ 27-14 victory to go with three pass breakups and two tackles. 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
The first time I remember hearing the term “shutdown cornerback,” it was used to describe none other than Deion Sanders.
And it wasn’t just about Deion shutting down Jerry Rice or Tim Brown or any of the NFL’s other top receivers of the 1990s. It was about Deion shutting down entire halves of the football field. About Deion shutting down a team’s entire passing attack. About Deion shutting down anything in his line of sight.
And since then — while I’ve heard the term “shutdown cornerback” used to describe dozens of other star cornerbacks in the NFL, college and high school — no corner has been as good at shutting things down as Deion Sanders. Continue reading
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
The city of Seattle lost a lot of things it might never get back when the NBA’s Supersonics took off and relocated to Oklahoma City in 2008.
But thanks to one NFL star, Seattle has at least been able to hang onto the spirit of Sonics legend Gary Payton.
Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman is, like Payton, an accomplished athlete who has become known as much for his trash-talking as for his talent. For the latter, he was voted No. 20 on the NFL Network’s ranking of the league’s top 100 players for 2016. 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
The original “Legion of Doom” is back together, and during the time when one of them was gone, the three founding members who never left Seattle established themselves as arguably the best players in the NFL at their respective positions.
When veteran cornerback Brandon Browner returned to the Seahawks in April, he was reunited with cornerback Richard Sherman, strong safety Kam Chancellor and free safety Earl Thomas.
The foursome was instrumental in the Seahawks winning Super Bowl XLVIII and became the marquee unit on a defense that is considered one of the toughest in pro football history. The Steelers of the 1970s had the “Steel Curtain” defensive line. The early-2000s Ravens had a linebacker corps led by Ray Lewis. The Seahawks had the LOB secondary. 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
It’s been a little more than one week since the NFL’s free agency period began in earnest, and already there has been a lot of movement among defensive backs.
Risk-taking, playmaking cornerback Janoris Jenkins went from St. Louis to Los Angeles (when the Rams relocated) to New York (signing with the Giants). All-Pro safety Eric Weddle almost went from San Diego to L.A. via relocation, but the Chargers stayed home and Weddle ended up finding a new home in Baltimore. Sean Smith went from Kansas City to Oakland and Tyvon Branch went from Kansas City to Arizona, significantly changing the look of the Chiefs’ secondary, one of the NFL’s best in 2015. And Pro Bowl cornerback Brent Grimes stayed in-state, going from Miami to Tampa Bay.
But by the time all of the contracts have been signed and the 2016 NFL season gets underway, the most significant secondary move could be the one where Darrelle Revis, a future Hall of Famer, moves from cornerback to safety for the New York Jets. Continue reading
If you were to gather a group of NFL fans to talk about the Pro Bowl — difficult a task as that may be — you’ll find quite a few who believe the league should simply announce the rosters and scrap the idea of actually playing what has become the worst all-star game among the major American sports.
As football-mad as this country is, nobody seems to be going crazy over the Pro Bowl. And with good reason.
A salary bonus and recognition among peers are the biggest perks a player gets out of being voted to the Pro Bowl. As for the game itself, beyond the free trip to Hawaii, it means nothing. Continue reading
Tags: Adam Jones, Brent Grimes, Charles Woodson, Desmond Trufant, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Eric Berry, Harrison Smith, Jason Verrett, Malcolm Jenkins, Marcus Peters, Mike Adams, Reshad Jones, Richard Sherman, Vontae Davis