According to Pro Football Focus, Richard Sherman was targeted just 65 times last season. That number is even more remarkably low when you consider that Sherman was in on 552 pass plays for the Seahawks last season.
We all know that Sherman generally sticks to the defense’s left side of the field; as a result, offenses tend to put their best wide receiver on the offense’s left, in order to avoid having to throw at Sherman. But that’s what I want to look at today: which cornerbacks are targeted the least?
Based on data from Pro Football Focus, the average cornerback was targeted on 16.4% of his pass snaps last year. That means an average cornerback would be expected to see about 90.5 targets on 552 snaps; in other words, Sherman saw 25.5 fewer targets than we would expect.
That’s the most impressive number of any cornerback in the league last year, with “impressive” here being a synonym for not being targeted. The second largest number belongs to Darrelle Revis, which perhaps isn’t much of a surprise, either. While with the Patriots, Revis was targeted 79 times on 606 pass snaps, or 20.4 fewer targets than we would expect.
The table below shows that data for each cornerback that was in on at least 175 snaps last season:
|Rk||Cornerback||Team||Snaps||Targets||Tar Above Avg|
- Packers nickel cornerback Casey Hayward played in less than half of his team’s defensive snaps last season, despite appearing in every game. But 82% of his snaps came in the slot, which means Hayward was more specialist than starter. But now that Tramon Williams is in Cleveland and Davon House is a Jaguar, Green Bay may try to expand Hayward’s role. At a minimum, the Packers could keep Hayward in the slot in nickel sets, but try to get him on the field more in base formations. Because teams sure do seem eager to not throw in his direction.
- I was a bit surprised to see Cleveland’s top two cornerbacks, Joe Haden and Buster Skrine, rank in the bottom five in this metric. After all, Cleveland finished in the top five in both NY/A and ANY/A last year. I’m not 100% sure of the explanation but I think a few things combine to hurt them. The Browns had the sixth worst sack rate, which means only a small number of pass plays didn’t yield a target. Cleveland didn’t use as much nickel or dime as most teams (at least, I think) and Cleveland safeties Tashaun Gipson and Donte Whitner were very good in coverage, factors that would combine to make Haden and Skrine see a lot of targets. Also, the Browns have Karlos Dansby, who is in the discussion for best coverage inside linebacker in the NFL. And, of course, Cleveland also ranked 7th in just raw pass attempts faced last year.
What players stand out to you in the above chart? What do you think of this metric? What would you say this metric measures, and what tweaks would you be interested in making?