A lot of talk has gone into the Peyton Manning–Richard Sherman battle that will take place this Sunday in the Super Bowl, and while there are other topics that are ignored (the main one is the fact the Seahawks other cornerbacks are as good as some teams starting cornerback) but I wanted to take a look at this from another angle, how often does Peyton target a teams #1 cornerback in any given game? The question has been raised if Peyton will avoid or go after Sherman in this game so I wanted to see if Peyton’s tenancy was to just smartly avoid team’s top corners or if he doesn’t shy away from them at all.
To do this I set out to look at each Broncos opponent this season and see how Peyton did when, and how often, he targeted that teams top corner. We’ll then compare this level of play against the rest of the defense to see if he plays better, worse, or about the same against that top corner. Now not all #1 corners are made the same, Sherman is the best corner in the game, some teams top corners are more like #2 corners on other teams, but that doesn’t change Peyton’s mentality, does he shy away from the best corner on opposing teams? So here are the categories we’ll be look at (in order they’ll appear on the table):
– Total attempts by Peyton in that game
– Opposing teams top corner
– Attempts towards that top corner
– Attempts toward that corner divided by total attempts to get a percentage of total attempts (shows how often Peyton targeted that corner as a percentage)- Reception completed when targeting that corner
– Catch percentage allowed by that corner
– Yards allowed by that corner
– Yards per attempt allowed
– Touchdowns allowed
– Passer rating against the corner
I’ll then take these metrics and apply them to the rest of the team, ignoring the top corner. You are then able to compare how they stacked up.
Here is the table.
Peyton is surprisingly consistent and doesn’t shy away from top corners, now he did have a few bad games against quality corners (Vonte Davis, DeAngelo Hall and Shareece Wright in the 2nd San Diego game all had strong outings) but for the most part he was very good and didn’t avoid teams #1 corners, targeting them 16.5% of the time. The big difference seems to come in the red zone where Peyton tended to avoid them, preferring to target them when he had more space to throw the receiver open, which is harder to do in the red zone when the defense has the advantage.
Not So Happy Fun Facts:
– The Broncos two running backs in week 13, Knowshon Moreno and Montee Ball, got hit behind the line of scrimmage on 64% of their runs, the most this season for the Broncos since week 1.
– During his limited time this season Champ Bailey has just plain struggled. He has been targeted 20 times and allowed 15 receptions for 161 yards and 1 touchdown. When quarterbacks target him they have a passer rating of 114.8.
Happy Fun Facts:
– Despite being without DE Derek Wolfe against the Chiefs, the Broncos actually managed to be a better pass rushing team with DE Robert Ayers and DT Malik Jackson taking his snaps. With Wolfe on the field the Broncos average pressure on 8.61% of the time but when Wolfe isn’t on the field the Broncos get pressure 9.17% of the time. The Broncos also have three defensive lineman who rank in the top 5 of their positions for pass rushing productivity, which is total pressures divided by total pass rushing snaps. These three are Robert Ayers (5th among DE’s), Malik Jackson (1st among DT’s) and Terrance Knighton (4th among DT’s).
– RB Knowshon Moreno leads the NFL’s running backs in Win Probability Added and Expected Points Added. What this means is Moreno adds more per play in terms of production towards winning and scoring than any back in the NFL. For more info on WPA and EPA click the link.
– Safety Rahim Moore may be out by his two replacements, Mike Adams and David Bruton, haven’t given up a touchdown since they took over for him. Adams also made the game saving pass deflection at the end of the game.
So often after games fans tend to overreact to a few things and far too often those things they are reacting to aren’t trends, instead they are merely one game situations or results. What fans should be looking for are trends, those things that persist through multiple games, because those are the items that are actually part of the teams consistent performance. Here in Facts, Trends, and The Overlooked we will look at the big story lines and some not so big ones, and see which ones are trends, which should be watched and which are merely one game anomalies.
Broncos Secondary is Weak Even When Healthy
– The Broncos have suffered some big injuries this season to the defensive backs, and have blamed the backups for the poor play of the pass coverage, along with a lack of pass rush, but even when healthy and now with Von Miller‘s return they have struggled. Since Von Miller’s return against Indianapolis the Broncos have only had 2 interceptions, which is tied for 29th in the league, they also haven’t had an interception since the bye. Against high caliber or efficient quarterbacks the Broncos secondary has had issues, healthy or not, Von Miller or not, this is something that is real, pay attention. Many will point to the fumbles forced by the Broncos defense against the Pats but few pay attention to the struggles of the safeties when it pertains to stopping the deep pass or the corners against fast wide receivers. While fans may be ignoring it, teams aren’t, as the results are beginning to show.