BOOK IT: 5 Things I Think about the Jaguars, Cornerbacks Edition
2.) Guess what, Rashean’s not that bad when he’s bad, either!We’re quick to criticize Rashean, but unless Derrick Cox makes a huge jump in 2011 or Rod Issac over-achieves and earns himself the top spot, Rashean should remain our #1 cornerback and perform reasonably well. Let’s look at what PFF identified as Rashean’s worst games of 2010 and search for meaning in the madness. We start with one of two bad games for Mathis facing Matt Shaub and the dazzling Houston aerial attack.
"4/4, 38 yards, 9.5 yd/att, 16 long, 8 yac, 1 TD, 145.8 QB Rating"
Yowza. Jacoby Jones had one catch for 5 yards…hmm, OK. Kevin Walter had two short catches that he turned upfield for a few extra, netting 24 yards…not terrible. NFL megastar Andre Johnson only had one catch for nine yards (awesome!), but it was for a touchdown (not awesome). But was that Mathis’ fault? This video might suggest so and the announcers instinctively blame him, but further breakdown and Jack Del Rio’s own words say that Rashean had run responsibility here, which would explain why he jetted for the line of scrimmage the second he saw a “handoff”. Our friend Don Carey was supposed to have Cover 2 on that side of the field and totally missed his responsibility here. So take that play off Mathis’ record and it’s not such a bad game now. We move to his second-game, in Kansas City…
"2/4, 38 yards, 9.5 yd/att, 22 long, 5 yac, 1 PD"
Verran Tucker had a pass swatted away from him by Mathis. The TE Leonard Pope was 0/1. Terrance Copper caught a 16 yarder and Dwayne Bowe had a 22 yard catch on Rashean, who pushed him out of bounds. Not terrible, so why was this game rated so poorly? Well, Rashean had three missed tackles…like I said, not a real physical guy. He likes golf and spending afternoons spooning on the couch with his wife – doesn’t make him a bad guy. On to New York…
"3/3, 52 yards, 17.3 yd/att, 29 long, 13 yac"
Derek Hagen caught one for 6 yards. Mario Manning beat him for 17 yards. Travis Beckham took one 29 yards with 10 yac BUT watching the video, you see Rashean start backpedaling before the snap and shoot back into quarters coverage and after play-action, no one was underneath to make a play before Mathis and Courtney Greene ran him out of bounds. So where’s the bad game? Uh-oh. Here it is. Everyone remembers the stinker against Philly…
"4/4, 57 yards, 14.3 yd/att, 25 long, 23 yac, 1 TD"
Against Mathis, LeSean McCoy caught one for 2 yards. Jeremy Maclin caught one for 14 yards and another 16 yarder for a TD. Yup, definitely Rashean in coverage there. But take a look at your watch – 5 full seconds between the snap and the throw and though you can’t see it, Maclin runs his route to completion in the back of the endzone and then improvs and comes back up field for the catch. 5 full seconds is tough for any corner. BUT ANDREW, he got toasted by Desean Jackson (gotta work for this one: 10th video down, “Vick 25-yd pass to Jackson”). I saw D-Jax pull a double move and make the grab with about half-a-step on Mathis, before pulling away for 20 extra yards. He stuck with him through the double move and I don’t know about you, but I’m at peace still if my 30 year old CB can’t keep up with the fasted guy in the league and only allows him a half-step of separation. Do we need someone that can allow him zero steps and make the play? Yes and hopefully soon, but I’m OK with what Mathis was able to do there. His fifth-worst game was at Houston in Week 17 and I’ll keep it brief – a 4-yarder to Arian Foster and two completions to Kevin Walter for 31 yards, 18 of which were yac. For his five worst games, I’m not buying any arguments that Mathis is a major liability.
- 3.) So when Rashean’s good, he’s good and when he’s bad he’s not that bad. Where does that leave us? It leaves us with a veteran cornerback, who can continue to be a very good, if no longer great, option at the #1 CB position. It would have been nice to draft his successor this year, but as we’ve said many times now, Gene Smith played the cards he was dealt in the draft and, given his results thus far, you gotta give him the benefit of the doubt regarding the players he took. Mathis played 987 out of 1008 defensive snaps in 2010 – that means he took off 21 snaps all year or played 97.9% of the time. So he’s healthy. If we give him the benefit of the doubt on the Andre Johnson TD catch, he allowed ZERO catches to Reggie Wayne, Andre Johnson, and Kenny Britt in 2010, the three best wide receivers in the division. He can be beat with short passes and YAC, as most CB’s can, and he can’t keep up with the fastest receivers in the league anymore, as most CB’s can’t. He’s not the playmaker he once was, with only 1 INT and 6 passes defensed, but he’s holding down his receivers. Of all the defensive plays he was on the field for, he was in pass coverage for 567 of them (57.5%) and quarterbacks only took 66 shots at him. That means opposing QB’s are only daring to throw it his way on 11.5% of passing plays. Nnamdi Asomugha was thrown at 29 times (6.6% of passing plays vs. OAK). Darrelle Revis was thrown at 57 times (9.6% of passing plays vs. NYJ). Champ Bailey was thrown at 66 times (13.5% of passing plays vs. DEN). If not feared, Rashean Mathis is still respected…and very effective.