By Brady Henderson
While quarterbacks tend to steer clear of Richard Sherman on the field, opposing players – provoked or not – don’t seem to show the same reluctance when it comes to their opinions about his game or outspoken nature.
Richard Sherman leads the league in interceptions since 2011 with 20. (AP)
The latest to throw a verbal jab in Sherman’s direction is Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson, who said Thursday that he doesn’t believe his Seahawks counterpart is a “shutdown corner.”
The backstory goes like this: Sherman’s new deal – a four-year extension that includes $40 million guaranteed – caught the attention of other top cornerbacks whose rookie deals are nearing their end. One of them is Peterson, who when asked about the matter last week said he believes he’s worth more than what Sherman got from Seattle.
That prompted a response from Sherman that included an ESPN graphic showing how his interception totals over the last three seasons lead the league by a wide margin.
“Want what I got?” Sherman’s tweet read, “Get the stats I got!”
Peterson’s comeback came Thursday when he joined “Bickley and Marotta” on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM and said Sherman, despite the stats, isn’t a “shutdown corner” because of what he is – or more specifically isn’t – asked to do in Seattle’s defense.
“Obviously his job is definitely much easier than mine,” Peterson said.
“If you look at their scheme and look at our scheme, he’s a Cover-3 corner, period,” Peterson said. “A lot of guys say he’s a shutdown corner, but if you look at film and guys who understand the game, go back and look at film and see how his defense is. I believe if you put him in our system, I don’t think he’d be able to last, honestly, because I’m asked to do much more than he is.”
While Sherman has on occasion been asked to trail opposing wide receivers throughout a game – the 49ers’ Anquan Boldin in Week 2 of last season is one example – he more often than not is assigned to one side of the field. Peterson’s responsibilities in Arizona’s defense differ in that regard, and he believes that makes him a superior cornerback despite the disparity in stats.
And it’s quite a disparity.
|By the numbers: Sherman and Peterson since 2011|
Sherman has 20 interceptions since entering the league in 2011, the same year Arizona chose Peterson fifth overall. Peterson has 12 in that span, which is tied for third. Sherman’s interception total comes with two important side notes, the first being that he didn’t enter the starting lineup until the seventh game of his rookie season. The other is that he led the league in interceptions last season with eight despite being targeted fewer times than any qualifying cornerback.
Peterson, though, believes that doesn’t tell the whole story.
“That’s all fine and dandy, but he’s only covering space, he’s not really covering a guy,” Peterson said. “At the end of the day he has great stats, he has great playmaking ability – I’m not taking that away from him because he is a good corner. But as far as being a shutdown corner, man-to-man guy, in my eyes, I don’t believe he’s that.”
Sherman’s response came quickly.
“This kid gave up as many TDs this year as I have in my career,” he tweeted in reference to Peterson, who according to ProFootballFocus.com allowed seven touchdowns in 2013. “He wouldn’t last in our system bcuz he gives up too many TDs.”
Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.