They are the Tie Fighters of every defense. They swoop in just as we all think the offense is going to land a killing strike and blow up a play. They are often rambunctious characters who demand attention, shaking their fingers in the face of Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers alike. “Not in my house. Not today.” A Cornerback’s first and foremost job on the field is to shut down the deep threat and the Arizona Cardinals have one of the greatest Corner’s playing today on their roster. However, there are other names you may be familiar with who deserve a nod for their performance in 2013′s 10-6 season.
PATRICK PETERSON - What can you say about this man that hasn’t been said already? Not only is he incredibly physically gifted, not only does he work harder on his craft than anyone else sharing his designation, but he is, from all accounts, a really cool guy too! Look, he’s special. If you’re an Arizona Cardinals fan I’d have to call you a liar if you were to say you didn’t have a crush on him, man-crush or otherwise. But this isn’t supposed to be a hot air session. Let’s really take a look at his performance this year and examine what he did right and, oh yes, what he did wrong.
Right - Look at the numbers. Even though he didn’t bring in many interceptions he was key in minimizing the damage of some of the top weapons in the NFL. Case in point, Megatron himself, Calvin Johnson. When the Lions came into University of Phoenix Stadium they had one goal. Establish the run with Reggie Bush to free up the play action and decimate our secondary with Calvin Johnson. Well, after Reggie hit the showers early due to running head first into the Great Wall of Glendale, they had one option left. And even though they hit that option for 116 yards and 2 TD’s without Peterson draped all over him things could have been much worse. Not to mention that one of those passes for a TD was a world class shocker that one in a million would have come down with. And Calvin Johnson just happens to be one in a million.
Wrong - Where was the Punt Return game this year? I’m not putting the blame entirely on Peterson here, but he hasn’t run one back since his rookie year when he took 4 to the house. Also, at times Patrick seemed to have difficulty playing across the field. Sure, these may have been gimmicky plays that coordinators inserted to get their top playmakers the ball, but none the less, Peterson often found himself with egg on his face and the ball in his target’s hands. The interceptions. Look, I’m not expecting Corners to come down with the ball every time. As long as his opponent doesn’t come down with it I’m fine. However, Richard Sherman nabbed 8 in one year and I want my guy to at least match him every single time. Elite should be elite.
Now let’s talk about the other guys. Guys who made an impact but may not necessarily get quite the thorough examination.
JERAUD POWERS - 66 Tackles, 18 passes defended, 1 INT and 1 Forced Fumble. When no one else was there Jeraud would show up time and again with a big play to stop a run, bat down a pass or chase down a receiver. His physical play got him in hot water at times, but he always seemed to make up for his few transgressions moments later with a game saving move.
ANTOINE CASON - 14 Tackles, 3 Passes Defended, 2 INT, 1 TD and 3 Fumbles Recovered. He didn’t see much playtime at first but when he did boy did he make an impact. After Tyrann Mathieu went down with his season ending injury it seemed like Antoine fit perfectly into Todd Bowles plans. Look for the Cardinals to try and keep this Unrestricted Free Agent in 2014.
JAVIER ARENAS - It almost isn’t worth bringing up Javier as a Cornerback as most of his impact was made on Special Teams. However, he did make one heck of a sack in the last game of the season on San Francisco 49ers QB Colin Kaepernick. Maybe I should have mentioned him in the Linebacker post!
TYRANN MATHIEU - I know what you might be thinking. Doesn’t the Honey Badger play Free Safety? Yes. He does. Among other things. One of those things being that he makes a fantastic Cornerback, especially over the middle on close plays to cross route running receivers.
That’s it. That’s all. This may not have covered everything (or everyone; Sorry Bryan McCann) but in the land of Cornerbacks you do what you need to do to get the job done. Who cares about being “elite”, right Patrick Peterson? I kid. I kid.