Vontae Davis And Sean Smith: Were They The Best CB Tandem?

“I’m going to go out on a limb and say we’re the best tandem in the league” is a direct quote made just weeks before the season opener from Dolphins’ CB, Vontae Davis.  He was obviously referring to his sidekick, CB Sean Smith.  Well, the season is over and all of the official regular season stats are in.  Davis talked the talk, but did he and Smith walk the walk?

Before I break down the stats on the year, I want to make it clear that I do like Davis and Smith as our two main CBs.  They both have a lot of potential and they will only get better in the future.  In fact, we have seen significant improvement from them both since their rookie seasons.  But, I’m a big numbers guy.  As the saying goes, stats don’t lie.  After all, in most cases, “great players” almost always have “great stats.”  If you were to write down the five best players in each position around the league according to your opinion, chances are they will be ranked very high statistically as well.  I will provide some statistical facts and let you grade this tandem out.

The four categories that I feel are most important to evaluate cornerbacks are:  Solo Tackles, Interceptions, Passes Defended, and Forced Fumbles.  Additionally, these categories are the easiest to record stats.  For “tie breaking” purposes, I also included a Touchdowns Returned category as well.  Sure, you can argue other elements that are just as important, but these are the meat and potatoes of any CB grading criteria.  Of course, I am aware that Davis missed four games this year due to a hamstring injury which would lower his stats.  However, without further ado, let’s take a look and see how they scored among their peers.

Solo Tackles

Davis:     39 (Tied 34th with 2 others)

Smith:    52 (Ranked 14th)  


Davis:     4 (Tied 8th with 16 others)

Smith:    2 (Tied 36th with 35 others)

Passes Defended

Davis:    12 (Tied 36th with 6 others)

Smith:   10 (Tied 45th with 1 other)

Forced Fumbles  

Davis and Smith both had zero on the season.  There were 20 other CBs/DBs with at least one or more forced fumbles on the year.

Touchdowns Returned

Davis and Smith both had zero fumble or interception return touchdowns.  There were 19 other CBs/DBs with at least one or more touchdowns returned on the year.

Based on these evaluating factors, Davis and Smith didn’t even finish in the top ten CB tandems in the league.  Statistically, Arizona, Detroit, Green Bay, Houston, New York Giants AND Jets, Kansas City, Seattle, San Francisco, New England, Chicago, and Buffalo had better CB Duos.  As I mentioned above, the tie breaker went to “Touchdowns Returned.”  After all, picking off a pass is nice, but taking it to the house is even better!

There are some other side facts worth mentioning as well.  Even though Miami had the third ranked rushing defense in the NFL, their secondary was very suspect.  They finished 25th in the league giving up 249.5 passing yards per game.  They also allowed opposing QB’s to complete 59.3% of their passes, which was 20th in the league.  By no means am I saying this was purely due to Davis and Smith, but these issues do need to be addressed in the offseason.  Yes, we are all looking at you Reshad Jones.

Overall, I was “pleased” with the play of Davis and Smith on the year.  For the most part, they were able to contain and limit the production of some of the league’s elite receivers.  In my opinion, they played well, but certainly were not the “best.”  They both have a lot of work to do in the offseason if they plan to be “the best tandem in the league” next year.  Davis should be careful of what he says in the future, because people will hold him to it.  If I had to grade this tag team on the year, I would give them a “B-.”  If you were the professor, how would you grade them? 


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Tags: Miami Dolphins Reshad Jones Sean Smith Vontae Davis

  • josephberthiaum

    @dolphinsbuzztap @SeanSMITH4 @VontaeDavis21 no they sure weren’t fire both of them especially #24 http://t.co/SGrO2GLl

  • Cornerss

    its not madden. Not as easy as “just fire em” Should the eagles fire their cb’s?

  • ranadicus

    There are three kinds of lies, white lies, damn lies and statistics. Tackles and interceptions aren’t a corner’s first duty, that would be preventing catches. How many catches did they give up and under what circumstances is what we need to see. Look at Nnamdi, his numbers are historically bad because nobody would throw the ball at him. Now look at Deangelo Hall, he always has a bunch of interceptions because he takes a lot of chances to get them, he also gives up a bunch of big plays for the same reason.

    Unless you’re playing Madden your stats are utterly useless in determining how good a corner actually is. Team completion percentage? Useless the top two corners play mostly on the outside while most quarterbacks put up their highest completion percentage throwing between the numbers. Pass defense ranking, also useless. That ranking is based on yardage allowed and Miami had a bad habit of sitting back in a soft zone once we got a lead this year. And return touchdowns? Really? How can this even be seriously considered, c’mon. I will offer you a good stat that acts as an indicator of how well our corners performed, Miami had the number 6 scoring defense in the league this year.

  • gdlow

    Why was New England able to complete passes at will..and Cleveland and Denver and on and on…especially in the 4th qtr. of games…Oh yea right…Matt Moore gave up those!!

  • Mattpatrick5

    @ranadicus The Dolphins’ corners had virtually no impact on our “number 6 scoring defense.” We can thank our front seven and the success of the 3-4 for that stat. Don’t forget Randy Starks (2), Marvin Mitchell, Karlos Dansby, Jared Odrick, and Kevin Burnett (only one to return an INT for a TD), all had picks this year. So again, let’s give these guys the bulk of the credit for this stat, not the corners.

  • tonyr669

    All the more mystifying why Bowles was considered for the Head Coach.

  • Lespaul

    @ranadicus Your right, stats are there for an overall comparison and a way for coaches/teams to evaluate production over time. They sure don’t tell the whole story depending on how they are factored. Game film fills in the gaps…hard to LIE when its on tape. Not sure I would toss these guys yet considering the pedigree of the backups. Maybe they can play an entire season without injury and we can see if hey are worth keeping.

  • courtneymckoyy


  • DavidNapier

    ok, so using your ‘formula’…..26 tackles, 0 int, 9 pd’s and 0 FF….that would make for a pretty poor CB, huh? Wrong, that was Revis Island in 2010.

    It seems to me you picked a bunch of stats simply because they are the easiest to collate and compare, checking things like completion % against would have just taken too much work…

    If you want to see how good a job a corner is doing just look and see how many passes come his way. Look and see how much help he gets, how he holds up in single coverage. Check the number of TD’s he gives up, look at the completion % accross the range of passes. There are a whole host of other things to look at with the most important, as someone mentioned earlier, is on film.

    One more point, I could just as easily say the reason other positions picked up int’s is entirely down to QB’s not wanting to challenge the corners, so let’s give them the bulk of the credit…