#10 – Richard Sherman

To see the full list of the 30 most important Seahawks in 2012, click here.

Boy, Felix really pushed this series to the backburner, didn’t he?

Why is Richard Sherman ranked #10 while Brandon Browner is ranked #13?  Because Richard Sherman IS Brandon Browner, only with a whole lot more upside.

I would argue that Sherman outplayed Browner last season, even though Browner was rewarded as a Pro Bowl alternate and Sherman got the finger.  Yes, Browner’s stats look a little shinier:

  • Browner:  54 tackles, 6 INTs, 2 TDs, 23 passes defended
  • Sherman:  55 tackles, 4 INTs, 0 TDs, 17 passes defended

And if you look at these more advanced stats (which, I will admit, I know absolutely nothing about), you’ll see they list Browner as the 6th best corner, while Sherman was the 38th best in “Positive Win Probability Added” (whatever the hell that means).

Now, I don’t know what they factor into +WPA, so I have to ask:  do they factor penalties and do they factor quarterbacks excessively targeting one cornerback over the other?

Purely from the eyeball test, watching Sherman and watching Browner last season, it seemed to me that opposing quarterbacks tried to abuse the living shit out of Browner.  Therefore, he had more opportunities to make a play (hence having more INTs and passes defended), but he also gave up more penalty yardage.  And, I would wager (though I can’t find the numbers at this time), Browner also gave up more receptions and receiving yardage than Sherman.

The penalty numbers bear out:

  • Browner:  16 penalties, 150 yards; including 8 holds, 2 illegal contacts, 5 PI’s, 1 personal foul and 2 unnecessary roughnesses
  • Sherman:  9 penalties, 69 yards; including 1 hold, 3 illegal contacts, 1 PI, 1 personal foul

Now, obviously, both players are pretty technically sloppy.  Browner was the 2nd-highest penalized player in the NFL and Sherman was the 20th-highest.  But, I think this gives us a pretty clear indicator that Browner was picked on WAY more than Sherman.  What’s unclear is whether Browner was more frequently taking on the other team’s best receiver … or whether this duty was split evenly.  You won’t find that on any stat sheet, so it’s impossible to determine.

What’s encouraging is that both players appeared to get better as the season went along.  What’s more encouraging for Sherman is he’s 4 years younger than Browner.  Both were in their first seasons in the NFL, but since Sherman was actually a rookie, he obviously has more upside.  Browner will probably be on the decline here pretty soon; Sherman SHOULD continue to get even better over the duration of his rookie contract.  I think that starts this season.  Look for Sherman to be a lock for the Pro Bowl.  As for Browner?  Well, if QBs continue to pick on him, he should continue to get lots of opportunities to both delight and disappoint.

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