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Horse Tracks: PFF gives top cornerbacks versus each route type

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Both Aqib Talib and Chris Harris Jr. made Pro Football Focus’ list of top cornerbacks versus each type of route run.

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Editor’s Note: First, a public apology is in order. As some of you know, Tuesday’s Horse Tracks post was a plagiarized version of a well-written post on Monday from Erick Trickel of Mile High Huddle. Upon being made aware of the offending post, I immediately removed it and reached out to Chad Jensen, the managing editor over at MHH, to apologize.

Mile High Report does not condone plagiarism in any way and, as such, the blogger responsible for yesterday’s post has been let go.

And finally, a personal thank you to those of you who spotted the similarities of the two posts and alerted us to that fact within an hour of publishing. This enabled me to remove the post from the site as quickly as we did. We are very fortunate to have the community of commenters we have on Mile High Report. - Tim Lynch


When I saw Pro Football Focus tweet out a tease for a story titled "The NFL’s Best Cornerbacks versus each route type in 2016", I knew the Denver Broncos No Fly Zone would be represented somewhere in there and I was not disappointed.

First up, Aqib Talib for Hitches and Comebacks. If you’ve watched Talib pick a pass off and return it for a touchdown, you know that he usually jumps this type of route to get that pick six. Here is what PFF said about Talib in their post:

Best CB defending hitches and comebacks in 2016 (min. nine targeted routes): Aqib Talib, Broncos

Talib led the league in QB rating against on hitches and comebacks, at 15.4. He was targeted on 16 such passes, allowing seven catches for 63 yards, only 9 of which came after the catch. Talib had the third-most interceptions, with two, behind only the Chargers’ Casey Hayward and the Bills’ Stephon Gilmore, who each had three. On top of his interceptions, Talib also had two passes broken up. Six of his 16 targeted coverage snaps came while in man coverage; he allowed three first downs, but no play went for more than 9 yards. Zone coverage allowed Talib to keep an eye on the QB, and he was able to jump two of the 10 routes he faced in zone for interceptions.

Then, of course, Chris Harris Jr. for Crossing Routes. You put Harris in the slot and there is no cornerback better than him at defending against the pass. Marcus Peters had a good year, but Harris does it every single year. PFF still gave him the honorable mention though:

Honorable mention: Chris Harris Jr., Broncos

Harris was second to only Marcus Peters in yards allowed per target, at 2.69 yards. He was targeted seventh-most frequently on crossing routes, but allowed the 101st-most yards out of 109 qualifiers. Targeted 13 times, Harris allowed seven completions for 35 yards and a QB rating against of 59.5. Seven of the targets Harris saw came out of the slot, and on six of them, he was in man coverage. On those plays, he gave up two completions for 9 total yards and broke up one pass. Harris played six targeted snaps on the outside, three times in zone coverages, and three in man. On the outside, Harris gave up four completions for 23 yards, none of which went for first downs.

I feel like these guys could have made the list multiple times, but the breakdown of each position and each player made sense.

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