What? Yeah, that’s what I said.
I love Al Harris, but he’s certainly no Chuckles Woodson, and when he came back from his spleen injury this past season, I secretly thought Tramon Williams was playing better than Al, before he got hurt.
Anyway, to the point…
Through some complex mathematical formula akin to quarterback ratings or BCS standings, Football Outsiders has rated Harris the best cornerback in the league, this season.
Players were rated on something called Success Rate, which Football Outsiders defines as this.
Success Rate (defense): The percentage of plays targeting a defensive player on which the offense did not have a successful play. This means not only incomplete passes and interceptions, but also short completions that do not meet the 45%/60%/100% baseline for success detailed in the description of DVOA.
So basically, how often a corner was targeted vs. how often that resulted in a successful play for the opposing offense, in this case.
Al, who was recently tapped as an injury replacement for the Pro Bowl, had a 79 percent success rate. Third on the list was the aforementioned Charles Woodson, at 66 percent. Green Bay’s starters sandwiched Philly’s Sheldon Brown, who was second at 73 percent.
Interestingly enough, my main man Tramon didn’t fare so well, but then, said rankings don’t take a lot of things into account.
For instance, Tramon came up with five interceptions and two forced fumbles this season. Al, meanwhile, registered zeros in both of those categories, and had less than half the number of tackles as Tramon (24 vs. 57).
However, Tramon gave up an average of 9.2 yards per pass, and registered a success rate of only 49 percent, according to Football Outsiders. Al, meanwhile, gave up an average of only 5 yards per pass.
Quarterbacks had a reason to target Aaron Ross over Corey Webster, and to target Tramon Williams over either Al Harris or Charles Woodson, depending which one was actually playing at the other cornerback spot, Football Outsiders notes.
The short of it is, if you’re a quarterback, you don’t want to throw at Al Harris. Then again, there’s Charles Woodson on the other side, who, in addition to a high success rate, also pulled down seven picks, had three sacks, a forced fumble and two touchdowns to go along with 62 tackles.
I’d be interested to see how often tight ends and running backs were targeted against Green Bay this season. My guess is the percentage would be near the top of the league. Pairing two stellar corners with shitheels like Brady Poppinga, who would try to cover the tight end or back, opens a lot of areas in the middle of the field. But I digress…
Al Harris is stellar (or in this case, a lot better than I thought), but the best corner in the league plays on the other side of the field.