As expected, the two-hour TV special unveiling the top 10 players in the NFL Network’s ranking of the top 100 for 2016 didn’t feature any defensive backs. And at the same time, it kind of did.
After All-Pro and Pro Bowl and all-everything-else breakout star cornerback Josh Norman made the list at No. 11 in the previous episode, it was safe to assume there would be no DBs in the top 10. But this episode did include a segment on the next 10 who just missed the top-100 cut, otherwise known as Nos. 101 through 110. And that group included three defensive backs: Continue reading
Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr.
Apparently the offseason is ranking season in the NFL.
With free agency and the draft in the rearview mirror, and training camps still a few weeks away, it seems every football media outlet is coming out with a variety of rankings and lists to pass the downtime.
NFL.com recently gave retired cornerback Ike Taylor, a 12-year vet who won two Super Bowls with the Pittsburgh Steelers, the task of putting together a list of the league’s top five cornerback tandems.
Even a casual football fan would not be surprised to find the Denver Broncos on top of Taylor’s list. Continue reading
Tags: Adam Jones, Aqib Talib, Chris Harris Jr., Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, Dre Kirkpatrick, Janoris Jenkins, Kyle Fuller, NFL, Patrick Peterson, Tracy Porter, Tyrann Mathieu
Arizona Cardinals defensive back Tyrann Mathieu is really good. Tyrann Mathieu is aware that he’s really good. And Tyrann Mathieu is a third-round draft pick still working under his rookie contract, so Tyrann Mathieu is trying to get as much positive attention and money as possible.
So for Mathieu to say that he actually gets upset when his teammate, Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, gets less attention than him, it shows how good Peterson must be. For further proof, Peterson’s peers around the league (including Mathieu) voted him No. 18 on the NFL Network’s ranking of the league’s top 100 players for 2016. Continue reading
We’ll never know exactly how close Tyrann Mathieu came to going down in football history as the defensive backfield’s version of Maurice Clarett. All that matters now is that Mathieu got his life in order and has blossomed into one of the best players in the NFL.
Not too long ago, Mathieu was, like Clarett, a former Heisman Trophy candidate who’d found himself forced out of college football and on the verge of blowing his opportunity at a professional football career. After getting kicked off the team at LSU and missing what would have been his junior season, Mathieu decided to go pro and was the most polarizing player on the 2013 NFL Draft board.
The Arizona Cardinals took a chance on Mathieu in the third round (69th pick overall), and have since been rewarded with one of the top defensive backs in the game making major contributions to one of the best defenses in the league. 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
In a surprising break from the norm, a defensive player was the headliner when the Associated Press revealed its All-Pro Team for the 2015 NFL season.
Rather than the competition for first-team quarterback between Cam Newton and Tom Brady (Cam won), or Adrian Peterson regaining his spot as the game’s top running back after missing almost an entire season, the top story when the rosters were released Friday was Khalil Mack, the Oakland Raiders star who made history by being the first player in NFL history to make first-team All-Pro at two positions in the same year.
Mack, a second-year pro who had 15 sacks and 77 tackles, was named to the first team at defensive end and linebacker. Continue reading
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
If all you’re working with is a TV, a late-night recap show and some basic stats, you may encounter the same methodical flaws in grading a football team’s defensive backfield as you would in grading a baseball team’s outfield.
For the most part, we notice DBs and outfielders when they make a really good play (an interception, a diving catch, a TD-saving tackle, a rocket-like throw) and when they make a really bad play (getting burned for a TD, making an error, committing pass interference, misplaying a ball in the field). Without looking at all the angles and some more advanced stats, it’s easy to lose appreciation for the underrated yet crucial act of being in the right place at the right time. When done right, it makes an effective defense look kind of boring. Which makes a defensive coordinator sleep well at night. Continue reading
Tags: Aqib Talib, Charles Tillman, Chris Harris, Earl Thomas, Janoris Jenkins, Josh Norman, NFL, Patrick Peterson, Richard Sherman, Rodney McLeod, Tyrann Mathieu
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
NFL careers are short. How can they not be, given the overall physical nature of the game, the league’s eligibility minimums, and the influx of hungry new talent entering each year trying to make veterans obsolete?
By the time an NFL player is 25 years old, he’s looking at five more years in the league if he’s one of the lucky ones. So while a best-under-25 list in other sports may be a collection of athletes who are just coming into their own, for the NFL it could include guys who are already midway through their careers. Continue reading