Stats & Info: Charles Tillman

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.

Who will be named the NFL's best?

February, 1, 2013

Getty ImagesPeyton Manning and Adrian Peterson had seasons that were were statistically memorable.
On Saturday, the NFL will honor the top players of the 2012 season with a two-hour ceremony to crown its award winners. Let’s look at the key storylines for the most notable awards.

AP NFL MVP: Manning vs Peterson
Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, the all-time leader in most AP NFL MVP awards, has a great chance to win his fifth.

After missing all of 2011 with a neck injury, Manning led the NFL with an 84.1 Total QBR in 2012, seven points better than Tom Brady, who finished second.

Since 2008 every player that finished the regular season with the highest Total QBR went on to win the MVP award.

The biggest improvement that Manning made to his game was his ability to connect on passes more than 20 yards downfield. His completion rate in 2008, 2009, and 2010 never exceeded 36 percent, but his 2012 rate of 46 percent trailed only Robert Griffin III for best in the NFL.

The one player who could deny Manning’s bid to be the third Broncos player to win (along with John Elway and Terrell Davis) is Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards, second-best in a single season in NFL history. He was the first rushing leader to average at least six yards per carry since Barry Sanders in 1997.

The wow stat on Peterson? He had 1,019 rushing yards after contact in 2012, 336 more than the player with the next-most (Doug Martin).

Defensive Player of the Year: Watt more could you ask for
The award is Houston Texans defensive lineman J.J. Watt’s to lose. Watt had 36 disrupted dropbacks (a number that combines sacks, passes defended, batted balls and interceptions). No other player had more than 23 this season. No one else has had more than 26 in a single season over the last three seasons.

Watt had 24 tackles for loss. That was more than any player in the league had sacks and tackles for loss combined except Von Miller.

Statistically speaking, Watt has the best numbers of any defensive linemen.

Among non-linemen, the player with the best stat-based case is Bears defensive back Charles Tillman.

Tillman led the NFL with 10 forced fumbles and tied for the lead in interceptions returned for touchdowns with three.

Tillman was the only player in the NFL this season with at least three interceptions, 10 passes defended, and five forced fumbles.

The Bears yielded 4.8 yards per play and allowed a touchdown every 47 plays in the 896 plays in which Tillman was on the field.

They allowed 5.9 yards per play and one touchdown every 24.6 plays in the 123 plays in which he was off the field.

Offensive Rookie of the Year: The Year of the QB
From 1957 to 2003, no quarterback won this award.

But if Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III or Russell Wilson wins, they would be the sixth quarterback to do so since 2004. With all due respect to Alfred Morris and Doug Martin, they are the most likely winners of this award.

What stat makes the best argument for each of the three?

In Luck’s case, it’s his ability to come up clutch. He had seven game-winning drives in the fourth quarter or overtime this season, tied for the most by any player in a single season since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

Griffin III led NFL rookies in Total QBR this season (71.4), a little better than both Wilson (69.6) and Luck (65.0).

He particularly excelled when teams sent heavy pass-pressure. His 96.8 Total QBR against five or more pass rushers was the best by any quarterback in the last five seasons.

Wilson set an NFL record for touchdown throws by a rookie (26). His plus-16 touchdown-interception differential was the best by a rookie in NFL history.

Wilson was terrific in the Seahawks late-season surge. His 84.1 Total QBR from Week 10 through season’s end was best in the NFL.

D-Gaps: pick six paves way for wins

December, 17, 2010
When Josh Wilson of the Baltimore Ravens stepped in front of a pass intended for the Texans' Kevin Walter and sprinted 12 yards into the end zone in Monday's win at Houston, he became the 17th player in league history to return an interception for a game-winning score in overtime, and the first since the Bears' Charles Tillman in 2005.

Josh Wilson
If Ravens fans were looking for a hero to save them from losing yet another game after leading in the fourth quarter, Wilson would have been a surprisingly good bet. The interception returned for a TD was his fourth since 2008. Over the last three seasons, only Packers cornerback, and former Defensive Player of the Year, Charles Woodson has more (six).

Not all pick-sixes wrap up a win as definitively as Wilson’s, although it sometimes seems that way. This season, teams that have returned an interception for a touchdown in a game went on to win more than 87 percent of the time (34-5). That’s the highest rate since 1977, when teams with a pick-six went 23-3 (88.5 percent).

Since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, teams that return an interception for a touchdown in a game are 1,187-343-3, a winning percentage of 77.5. Teams with multiple interception return TDs in the same game have been virtually unbeatable, now 95-4 after the Pittsburgh Steelers beat the Cincinnati Bengals Sunday behind pick-sixes from Troy Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley.

Wake making late push for sacks title
Cameron Wake
Two sacks on the Jets' final three offensive plays Sunday gave Miami Dolphins linebacker Cameron Wake an NFL-best 14 sacks this season. That’s tied for the seventh-highest single-season total in franchise history.

Wake became just the second player with a pair of sacks in the final two minutes of the fourth quarter this season. John Abraham sacked Carson Palmer twice late in the Falcons' Week 7 win over the Bengals.

Suh, Lions defense not holding own in middle of field
Ndamukong Suh and the rest of the Detroit Lions defensive line have been given credit -- in this blog and elsewhere -- for their impressive results in getting to the quarterback this season. Detroit’s defensive line has combined for 32 sacks this season, the second-most by any defensive line behind only the New York Giants (33.5).

However, a bit more discipline in the run game couldn’t hurt. Detroit is allowing 5.2 yards per rush on carries in between the tackles this season, the most in the league by a wide margin. To find the last time the Lions allowed as many as five yards per carry in between the tackles, you only have to go back to 2008. That’s when Detroit surrendered 5.0 yards per rush up the middle en route to the first 0-16 record in league history.