Saturday, June 7, 2008

Joyner- Bailey/Bly Amongst the Worst in NFL

Denver's dynamic CB duo never materialized - Espn Insider
Denver's dynamic CB duo never materialized

By KC Joyner
ESPN Insider (Archive)

Updated: June 4, 2008

For the final installment of the "best of/worst of 2007" series, I'll be taking a look at which starting cornerback tandems had the highest and lowest YPA (yards per attempt) allowed.

Glossary of terms

The word "tandem" technically means this should include only two players per team, but in a number of cases, injuries forced more than two players to split the starting spots. Because of this, I set the qualifying mark for this analysis at eight starts.

This did mean that in a couple of instances, a team had a nickel cornerback who started a few games at the nickel spot and a few others at one of the standard spots and accordingly ended up being listed as a starter. However, this beat the alternate method of using the attempt mark, as that would have included many more nickel backs as starters and, if the bar were set high enough, might have excluded some starters such as Nnamdi Asomugha (who had only 35 passes thrown his way).

As was the case in the rest of this series, the yardage totals include "pass in the air" penalty attempts and yards (i.e., penalty yards from pass interference, defensive holding, illegal contact, etc., have been added to each player's yardage stats).

Now that we have the preliminaries out of the way, let's take a look at the starting cornerback tandem YPA rankings from 2007:

The best

Ronde Barber/Phillip Buchanon: Barber had a fantastic 2007 season with a 4.9 YPA and a 44.9 percent success rate, but it's not like Buchanon simply rode on Barber's superb metric coattails. Buchanon posted a terrific 6.4 YPA and nearly matched Barber's success percentage with a rate of 44.8.

To put their success marks another way, consider that there were only 64 successful plays against Barber and Buchanon all season. That means that, on average, the other team's offense could expect only two positive plays to each of its wideouts on any given Sunday.

Trumaine McBride/Charles Tillman: As good as Nathan Vasher is, this combination's No. 2 showing in this metric illustrates that Chicago did not miss Vasher nearly as much as is generally thought. If Vasher comes back fully healthy this year, this cornerback trio could make a strong case for being the best in the NFL.

Jabari Greer/Terrence McGee: This tandem's statistics provide some proof that the Bills are quietly building one of the best secondaries in the league. If Buffalo can at the very least develop Leodis McKelvin, Reggie Corner and/or Ashton Youboty into an effective nickel/dime duo, there won't be a real coverage weakness for any offense to target.

The worst

Champ Bailey/Dre' Bly: The buzz going into the 2007 season was that Bailey and Bly might be the best starting battery around, but it didn't turn out anywhere near that way. A lot of this poor performance was on Bly's shoulders, as evidenced by his 8.8 YPA, but Bailey has to take some of blame as well. His 7.8 YPA was his worst since 2005. Both will have to improve if Denver's defense is going to see a turnaround in 2008.

Al Harris/Charles Woodson: Harris landed a starting spot in the Pro Bowl, and Woodson had a lot of support for a Hawaii trip as well, but their combined totals placed them 27th in this category. Most of that showing was the result of Harris' 9.7 YPA, a number that begs the question as to why he was given that starting Pro Bowl spot in the first place.

KC Joyner, aka the Football Scientist, is a regular contributor to ESPN Insider. His core coverage metrics for all skill-position players and cornerbacks will be available in the ESPN Fantasy Football Magazine, which will be released this summer. His 2008 releases, "Scientific Football 2008" and "Blindsided: Why The Left Tackle is Overrated and Other Contrarian Football Thoughts," are available for preorder. For more, check out KC's Web site,

Blahsky note:
As we know Champ and Dre were required a ton in run relief, which contributed to Champ's low season. By the way, Ronde and Phillip combined for a whopping 5 interceptions. I wouldn't play too much into this, to me Denver still has one of if not the best secondary in the NFL and will now be able to prove it with a strong Defensive Line/Linebacking Corp.

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