Stats & Info: Patrick Peterson

Cardinals soaring due to defense, better QB

November, 26, 2013
The Arizona Cardinals are 7-4 this season and riding a four-game winning streak. After starting 26th in the preseason NFL Power Rankings, the Cardinals have now jumped to ninth and are in the hunt for a Wild Card spot.

When did this happen? How did this happen?

The Cardinals lost 11 of their last 12 games last season after starting 4-0, with the likes of Kevin Kolb, John Skelton, Ryan Lindley and Brian Hoyer at quarterback. The Cards finished the season with the league's worst Total QBR (20.6).

The poor quarterback play led to the offseason acquisition of Carson Palmer. Palmer has played well during the Cardinals’ winning streak, but his 47.6 QBR over the full season ranks 26th out of 38 qualifying quarterbacks.

According to QBR standards, the jump in quarterback play for the Cardinals is from replacement level to league average. On it's own, that doesn’t vault a team to a 7-4 record. Palmer had a 51.7 Total QBR in Oakland but went just 8-16 as the starter.

Unlike the Oakland Raiders, the Cardinals have had one of the best defenses in the NFL the past two seasons, and quarterback play is no longer masking that.

How good is the Cardinals’ defense?
The Cardinals’ defense has been one of the most disruptive units over the last two seasons. Just ask Matt Ryan, who has thrown nine interceptions in his last two starts against Arizona (compared to 17 picks in 25 games against the rest of the NFL).

The Cardinals’ 37 interceptions are second in the NFL since the start of last season, one shy of the Chicago Bears’ 38. Cornerback Patrick Peterson has led the charge with 10, but 13 other players have intercepted passes.

The interceptions have led to a 37.8 opponent Total QBR in each of the last two seasons. Only the Kansas City Chiefs, San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks have been better this season (Arizona also ranked fourth last season).

The stout secondary allows the Cardinals to bring heavy pass rushes. No team has sent five or more pass rushers more frequently than the Cardinals this season (48 percent). Arizona has put opposing quarterbacks under pressure (sack or duress) on 36 percent of dropbacks with such pressure (19 percent with four or fewer rushers).

In addition to a strong pass defense, the Cardinals have been one of the best run-stopping teams in the NFL this season. Only the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets have allowed fewer yards per rush than the Cardinals (3.5) this season.

The Cardinals and Baltimore Ravens are the only two teams in the top five of yards per rush allowed and Total QBR allowed this season.

Numbers behind NFL’s best corners

July, 16, 2013
AP Photo, Getty ImagesDarrelle Revis and Richard Sherman rate among the best via video review
How can you measure the best lockdown cornerbacks in the league? The ones so good they build a reputation for being avoided while earning nicknames such as ‘Revis Island’?

From our statistical perspective, we looked at four things:

On/Off the Field analysis: How a team fares with their lockdown cornerback off the field.

Throws outside the numbers: Looking at statistics pinning the best cornerbacks, matched up against the best wide receivers outside the painted numbers.

Throws by distance: Which cornerbacks take away the big play?

Team performance: The best cornerbacks make their team's pass defense better.

Here’s a look at some of the NFL’s most successful cornerbacks from the last several seasons.

Richard Sherman & Brandon Browner
Richard Sherman leads the NFL with 12 interceptions and 34 passes defended or intercepted since he joined the league in 2011.

Sherman played 95 percent of the defensive snaps last season, and his numbers speak for themselves. However, his absence was felt during his rookie season, when he played 70 percent of possible snaps.

The Seattle Seahawks intercepted one pass every 19.4 attempts with him on the field, and one pass every 78 attempts with him off the field in his rookie season.

Sherman’s teammate Brandon Browner has nine interceptions in the last two seasons, tied for fourth in the NFL among cornerbacks, despite missing the last four games of last season due to suspension.

The tandem has shut down outside passing lanes for opponents. Against passes 10-plus yards downfield and outside the numbers, the Seahawks pass defense ranked among the top five in Total QBR, interceptions and completion percentage last season.

Perhaps their biggest impact is near the goal line, where their physical presence (Browner is 6’4” and Sherman stands 6’3”) shines. The duo has combined for four interceptions in goal-to-go situations over the last two seasons. No team has more than four interceptions in goal-to-go situations over that span.

Darrelle Revis
Darrelle Revis missed the final 13 games of the 2012 season after tearing his ACL in Week 3. Over the last two seasons, the Jets have allowed 15 touchdown passes with 23 interceptions with Revis on the field, holding opponents to a 41.4 Total QBR. With Revis off the field, the Jets allowed 20 touchdown passes with seven interceptions and a 50.5 Total QBR.

His value is also seen in his team’s overall defensive prowess. Since 2009, the Jets lead the NFL in fewest passing yards allowed, completion percentage allowed and are second in Total QBR allowed.

Revis' 2013 impact will be for a new team - the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Patrick Peterson
Patrick Peterson intercepted seven passes in 2012, including an NFC-high four passes on throws more than 20 yards downfield. That is as many or more interceptions on such throws than 24 NFL teams.

The Cardinals defense had the fourth-best Total QBR and allowed the fifth-fewest passing yards per game last season, their highest ranks in the past five seasons.

Peterson has been a big part of the turnaround, playing a team-high 2,209 snaps (96 percent of defensive snaps) since he joined the league.

Peterson has impacted the game in many ways as he forced seven fumbles last season and led the NFL with five fumbles recovered.

He tied an NFL-record by returning four punts for touchdowns in his rookie season (2011), and his 699 punt return yards were the second-most in a single season in NFL history.

Nuccio DiNuzzo/Chicago Tribune/MCT
Tim Jennings led the NFL with 9 INTs last season.

Tim Jennings
Tim Jennings made his first Pro Bowl and led the NFL with nine interceptions in 2012 for the Chicago Bears, after never intercepting more than two passes in a single season in his career.

Eight of Jennings’ nine interceptions came outside the numbers, a total that no other player topped during the last two seasons combined.

Charles Tillman
Jennings' teammate Charles Tillman forced 10 fumbles in 2012, and returned all three of his interceptions for touchdowns, tied for most in the NFL. Tillman has six interceptions over the last two seasons, returning a league-high five for touchdowns.

Johnathan Joseph
Houston Texans cornerback Johnathan Joseph has made two straight Pro Bowls, but was part of a Texans’ secondary that fell apart down the stretch last season.

The Texans allowed 26 pass plays of 30 or more yards, second in the NFL behind the New York Giants.

Including the postseason, the Texans allowed 31 pass plays of 30-plus yards, including 20 from Week 11 on.

They allowed 17 touchdowns and had three interceptions outside the numbers last season. Only the Vikings had a worse touchdown-to-interception differential on such passes.

Oklahoma tops CFB Live Preseason Poll

April, 22, 2011
All week on College Football Live, we’ve been unveiling our Preseason Top 25. A 38-person panel consisting of our analysts, studio hosts, play-by-play announcers, bloggers, researchers and production team members submitted their votes and here’s our in-depth Top 5.

1. Oklahoma Sooners
With nine starters back on offense including quarterback Landry Jones and AP First-Team All-American receiver Ryan Broyles, simply put, the Sooners are loaded on that side of the ball. Last season, Jones led the Big 12 in passing yards (4,278) and touchdown passes (38). He also holds seven school records. Speaking of school records, Broyles owns 10 Oklahoma receiving marks, setting nine of them last season. With seven starters returning on defense including linebacker Travis Lewis, the Sooners are the early favorite to win not only the Big 12 title but the BCS championship, as well.

2. Alabama Crimson Tide
Even with the departure of quarterback Greg McElroy, 2009 Heisman winner Mark Ingram, receiver Julio Jones and defensive lineman Marcell Dareus, the Crimson Tide should contend for the national championship once again. Junior running back Trent Richardson returns, which is key since Bama will be breaking in a new quarterback in either third-year sophomore A.J. McCarron or redshirt freshman Phillip Sims. Nine starters are back on defense including linebacker Dont’a Hightower and safety Mark Barron.

3. Oregon Ducks
Seven offensive starters are back for the Ducks including quarterback Darron Thomas and Heisman finalist running back LaMichael James. That backfield duo served as the key cog to the Oregon offensive machine that led the bowl subdivision in scoring, averaging 47 points per game last season. The defense loses six starters, among them First-Team All-Pac-10 linebacker Casey Matthews. However, the Ducks should have enough to contend for their third straight conference title in the new Pac-12.

4. LSU Tigers
With nine starters returning on offense and seven on defense, the Tigers look poised for another run at the SEC and national championships. Senior quarterback Jordan Jefferson returns for his third full season as the starter. He’ll need to be more productive than last year when he passed for 1,411 yards, seven touchdowns and 10 interceptions. To help Jefferson infuse life into an offense that finished 11th in the 12-team SEC, LSU hired former Louisville head coach Steve Kragthorpe as its new offensive coordinator. Even with the loss of Thorpe Award-winning cornerback Patrick Peterson, the LSU defense should still give opposing offenses nightmares.

5. Boise State Broncos
The Broncos' offense and defense each have seven starters returning and none bigger than quarterback and 2010 Heisman Trophy finalist Kellen Moore. With the departure of offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin (Texas) and dynamic receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Young, the senior will be relied upon even more to keep the offense in sync. Senior running back Doug Martin, who rushed for 1,260 yards and 12 TDs last season, also returns. Boise State is making the jump from the WAC to the Mountain West this season.

The rest of the top 25:

6. Florida State
7. Stanford
8. South Carolina
9. Oklahoma State
10. Ohio State
11. Texas A&M
12. Arkansas
13. Nebraska
14. Wisconsin
15. TCU
16. Michigan State
17. Notre Dame
18. Florida
19. Virginia Tech
20. Texas
21. Mississippi State
22. Auburn
23. Missouri
24. West Virginia
25. Arizona State
In all the excitement of Florida's Chas Henry winning the Ray Guy Award for the nation’s top punter, you may have missed that Auburn quarterback Cam Newton won the Maxwell Award for the best all-around player.

Or maybe it’s the other way around.

Either way, despite Auburn having had two Heisman winners in school history, Bo Jackson in 1985 and Pat Sullivan in 1971, it had never had a player win the Maxwell Award, an award that dates back to 1937.

History won’t be on Newton’s side, however, when the Heisman Trophy is awarded Saturday night. Of the past 10 players to win the Maxwell Award, only one has gone on to win the Heisman Trophy in the same season. That was Florida quarterback Tim Tebow in 2007.

Before Tebow, you have to go all the way back to 1999, when Wisconsin running back Ron Dayne won both the Maxwell and the Heisman in the same season.

That being said, Newton remains a heavy favorite to hoist the Heisman on Saturday, thanks to his dual-threat ability.

There’s no doubting Newton’s running ability. Even as a quarterback, he led all FBS players in rushes of at least 15 yards this season with 29. Hawaii’s Alex Green was second with 27.

However, Newton has become more adept at throwing the deep ball as the season's gone on. In the first eight games of the season, Newton completed just 34.5 percent of passes thrown at least 20 yards with five interceptions. In the last eight games of the season, he completed two-thirds of his throws of at least 20 yards, and didn’t throw a single pick.

Also cashing in on the hardware Thursday night was LSU cornerback Patrick Peterson. He won both the Jim Thorpe Award for best defensive back and the Chuck Bednarik Award for best overall defensive player.

He’s the first defensive back to win the Bednarik Award since Michigan’s Charles Woodson in 1997. Woodson also went on to win the Heisman, the only player to play primarily on defense and win the award.

Peterson became LSU’s first Bednarik Trophy winner, and the first SEC player to win it since Georgia’s David Pollack won the award in 2004.

No word if either of these players has bought stock in a trophy polish company.

QB Cam Newton neutralizes the blitz

October, 19, 2010
A defense facing Cam Newton has to know that it is almost a given that the Auburn Tigers quarterback will gain yards on the ground. He is just too big and too strong for a defense to completely shut his ground attack down.

But when Newton drops back to pass, defensive coordinators have to be smart if their team wants to slow down the Heisman candidate. On Saturday, the Arkansas Razorbacks defense played right into Newton’s hands, trying to stop him by sending extra pass rushers.

Newton came into the Arkansas game completing more than 70.0 percent of his passes against the blitz, with seven touchdowns and no interceptions. His pass efficiency rating of 258.4 against the blitz was exactly 100 points higher than his efficiency rating when a defense sends four rushers or fewer and drops into coverage. Yet, the Arkansas defense brought the blitz on more than 64 percent of Newton’s passes, and he made the Razorbacks pay. He completed eight-of-nine passes against Arkansas’ added pressure, for 132 yards and a touchdown.

The LSU Tigers are next on Auburn’s schedule, and if the Tigers from Baton Rouge want to remain unbeaten, the defense must get pressure from the front four, and allow Patrick Peterson and the rest of the secondary to drop into coverage.