NFL: NFL Starting-Caliber Corners: How many do ya need?
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    NFL Starting-Caliber Corners: How many do ya need?

    I liked this snippet from yesterday's Peter King MMQB article...

    MMQB (cont.) - Peter King - SI.com

    Stat of the Week

    I've got the perfect reason why the Philadelphia Eagles shouldn't even think about trading Lito Sheppard. It's called the evolution of pro football. If you're a general manager, and you don't enter the season with three corners you can trust, you either have a pass-rush like the Giants or you're ignoring what's been going on in this game in the past five or 10 years.

    The Eagles did a couple of smart things on draft day. Without a prospect they had to have in the first round, they dealt their pick for first-, second- and fourth-round picks. And they hung on to the dissatisfied Sheppard. His value to the Eagles, simply, was more than the value of a second-round pick, even though he's missed 14 games in the past three years due to injury. I applaud Philly for not dealing him, though to be truthful, a big reason why he wasn't dealt was because he wanted too much money in a renegotiated contract.

    According to NFL playing-time documents, the average third corner in the league played 57 percent of his team's defensive snaps last year. Let's look at couple of teams with good secondaries to see how they divvied up cornerback playing time, and that will make my point for me:

    Cornerbacks and Percent Of '07 Defensive Snaps
    San Diego
    Quentin Jammer 80%
    Drayton Florence 79%
    Antonio Cromartie 72%

    Denver
    Dre' Bly 97%
    Champ Bailey 90%
    Dominique Foxworth 57%

    Third corners most often played more than half of the time, including New England's Randall Gay (53 percent), Hank Poteat of the Jets (54 percent) and the Raiders' Fabian Washington (53 percent).

    I remember talking to San Diego GM A.J. Smith the night of the draft. "We got our corner,'' he said happily, referring to first-round pick Antoine Cason. You might wonder why Smith was so focused on getting his corner, with two good starters -- Jammer and Cromartie -- in house, even after losing Florence in free-agency to Jacksonville. "I'm a firm believer in this game today that you need three starting corners to win.'' Amen.



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    Re: NFL Starting-Caliber Corners: How many do ya need?

    There's definitely something to this. Look at the recent offensive success of teams like Indianapolis and New England. You see a lot of three wideout sets. Slot receivers are very important to today's game simply because of the matchup problems they can create. Same thing goes for the athletic, receiving tight end. A base 4-3/3-4 is at a disadvantage. No wonder the 3rd corner is so prevalent.

    I read something along the same lines on NFL.com about the "big nickel" package, which is actually a three safety formation. The article was mentioning it, specifically in relation to the Minnesota Vikings and their recent drafting of safety Tyrell Johnson.
    Johnson has excellent cover skills for a safety, but also has the size and strength to support the run and cover athletic tight ends.


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    Re: NFL Starting-Caliber Corners: How many do ya need?

    Quote Originally Posted by jdewaard View Post
    Johnson has excellent cover skills for a safety, but also has the size and strength to support the run and cover athletic tight ends.
    Which is very important. What I think you'll begin to see is the 3 corner pendulum swing a little too far for some teams. The opposition will combat that by running on 'em. I wouldn't be shocked at all to see rushing numbers increase at a higher rate over the next few years because of it. It'll be interesting to see if it swings so far that for a year or two, the NFL is "dominated" by the run.

    The teams that have a secondary that can do a very good job of covering the pass and stopping the run will prevail - obviously.



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    Re: NFL Starting-Caliber Corners: How many do ya need?

    Like all trends in the NFL, schemes will come and go, but the end result is pretty much the same. For the last 10 years, the league leading team in rushing has averaged right around 2600 yards. There are a few extremes, but it's pretty consistent. For passing the average leader gets about 4300 yards, but there is a little more variation. Still, for all the talk of new offensive schemes, the stats remain pretty similar.


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    Re: NFL Starting-Caliber Corners: How many do ya need?

    I learned last year that you can't win if Jacque Reeves is your third corner.



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    Re: NFL Starting-Caliber Corners: How many do ya need?

    I learned last year that you can't win if Jacque Reeves is your third corner.
    Oh I wouldn't pin it all on Reeves. Romo had a good deal to do with it, too.


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    Re: NFL Starting-Caliber Corners: How many do ya need?

    San Diego's corners are outstanding. The Chargers probably have the best defense in the league. With the way teams throw the ball around nowadays, if you have 3 good corners you are going to do really well. They give the LBs and DLs time to pressure, and if you have guys like Roid Rage Merriman and Jamaal Williams you are going to be tough.



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    Re: NFL Starting-Caliber Corners: How many do ya need?

    Quote Originally Posted by mwitt View Post
    I learned last year that you can't win if Jacque Reeves is your third corner.
    Or if Patrick Crayton is your #2 receiver. Say what you want about Reeves (and it would be accurate) - but Crayton's drop on one play and stopping on another cost Dallas the game that really counted.



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    Re: NFL Starting-Caliber Corners: How many do ya need?

    Quote Originally Posted by jdewaard View Post
    Oh I wouldn't pin it all on Reeves. Romo had a good deal to do with it, too.
    I pin the drive going into halftime entirely on him, and that was the biggest drive of the game.



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    Re: NFL Starting-Caliber Corners: How many do ya need?

    Quote Originally Posted by ISUFan22 View Post
    Or if Patrick Crayton is your #2 receiver. Say what you want about Reeves (and it would be accurate) - but Crayton's drop on one play and stopping on another cost Dallas the game that really counted.
    Well yeah, but I thought I would talk about cornerbacks since that is the premise of the thread.



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    Re: NFL Starting-Caliber Corners: How many do ya need?

    Quote Originally Posted by pulse View Post
    San Diego's corners are outstanding. The Chargers probably have the best defense in the league. With the way teams throw the ball around nowadays, if you have 3 good corners you are going to do really well. They give the LBs and DLs time to pressure, and if you have guys like Roid Rage Merriman and Jamaal Williams you are going to be tough.
    Bold statement. What about the Giants or Vikings?



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    Re: NFL Starting-Caliber Corners: How many do ya need?

    The Vikes certainly vaulted themselves into the conversation for the league's best defenses. I think the Giants don't get the honor simply for the fact that they lost a couple linebackers in free agency and Strahan's status is in doubt for this fall.



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    Re: NFL Starting-Caliber Corners: How many do ya need?

    San Diego's corners are outstanding. The Chargers probably have the best defense in the league. With the way teams throw the ball around nowadays, if you have 3 good corners you are going to do really well. They give the LBs and DLs time to pressure, and if you have guys like Roid Rage Merriman and Jamaal Williams you are going to be tough.
    Depends on the scheme. In a cover 2, corners are probably the least important position, coverage wise. They just need to sit on the underneath stuff, bump the receiver off the line and make tackles.

    In San Diego's 3-4 they may play more man to man, and so your point is valid


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    "Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood."
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