“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.
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)
Davis: 12 (Tied 36th with 6 others)
Smith: 10 (Tied 45th with 1 other)
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.
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?