Posted: April 23, 2013

Cornerbacks, they probably occupy my #1 spot on my pet peeve list when it comes to college football; they don’t put their hands up!

Athletically, they probably have the most difficult (but most well defined) job on the field. They need to chase the fastest, most agile athletes all over the field, Heisman candidates, NFL potentials, without knowing what route they are running beforehand, or without any help from the line, the push, or the pack, and make sure they don’t catch a pass thrown at them. With that said, I think cornerbacks are actually the best athletes on the field, which is why in many cases, they act as kick returners or punt returners instead of running backs or wide receivers, or why they get this difficult task of chasing blue chip athletes all day.

This always brings up the debate as to why if they are faster and more agile than wide receivers, they are not actual wide receivers? The line you hear fans scream often at games, which to this day still makes me laugh (and I still say it at least once a game) is: “and THAT’s why he is playing defense.” This of course alludes to the fact cornerbacks can’t catch, which of course, is a pivotal part of being a wide receiver. In many cases, it’s very true; the difference in catching ability between a cornerback and a receiver is night and day. So why do cornerbacks still try to catch the ball? Why not just do what the job is; prevent the receiver from catching the ball by knocking the ball down? My opinion is this is the fault of the coaches and the player combined. The player at this position just is not the smartest on the field athlete on the field. And for that matter, the coaches who let this happen, I feel similarly.

How many times have you watched a corner back line up and defend man to man on a goal line fade route and where you see the receiver completely turn around in the end zone, then jump to catch the pass, looking directly back at the quarterback? 100? Or maybe 1000 times? I can’t even count how many times. Now you tell me “what exactly is the cornerback doing?” He usually has his hands hugging the receivers waste, tackling him in the end zone. Why? I don’t know, I don’t think you get points for that. Do you? You certainly don’t get a tackling stat either, and it certainly doesn’t prevent the catch or thus the touchdown. It’s sad because in my cases than not, the cornerbacks helmet is right on the receivers belly when the receiver turns around; perfect position.

I just don’t get it. You are looking right at the player you are covering!! He spins around making it completely obvious the ball is coming his way! His eyes widen like a kid in a candy store! He reaches his hands out of up to the sky! He jumps! The signs are obvious! And what is the cornerback doing? He is putting his hands around the receivers waste to make an end zone tackle. I think I might start tracking end zone tackles to see which cornerback, during a season, does this the most (is least intelligent), or uses their effort for the least amount of good. I’ll call it the “CIQ – Cornerback Intelligence Quotient”. This type of defense is the same on regular pass plays along a normal drive, not just at the goal line. It’s just more pronounced and obvious at the goal line! To me these are the worst plays of the game (other than holding, which happens on every play).

Just as an aside, as a fan of r the NFL NY Jets, I am upset with the trading of Darrelle Revis for only one reason; he was a SMART cornerback. He is just as quick as the other good cornerbacks, but what he does best is defend. He is aware. He knocks balls down because he is always protecting one play at a time. He doesn’t always need to go for the pick six. He’s always aware of when the ball is thrown to his receiver, and quarterbacks know this. He isn’t a huge interception threat (see stats), its just tough to get a pass to a receiver he is covering because his arms are always up when the ball is thrown. Its easier to knock it down and make no one catch it, then battle over an interception or a catch. He knows tis, this is why he is the best. Young cornerbacks in college should watch how he defends, and understand why what he has is called an Island. I can tell you it isn’t because of the interceptions, it’s because he defends smart.

Do the job the team has asked of you. Block the pass by any means but most obviously, by doing what you are good at; not catching a football. Don’t try to catch it, if you could catch it, you’d be on offense! Don’t just run and follow the receiver; we know you are fast and good at following! Don’t tackle in the end zone; it’s too late by then. Just knock the ball down; JUST PUT YOUR HANDS UP!!!