Giants fans have had a love-hate relationship with Corey Webster. He has never been known as an top-flight corner, and some teams have absolutely picked him apart. Another problem has been staying healthy- Webster has played all 16 games in a season just once in seven season. But other times, he has come up huge, the most notable of which when he picked off Brett Favre in the overtime of the 2007 NFC Championship Game, setting up the Lawrence Tynes field goal that sent the Giants to the Super Bowl. But now, everything is changing. Webster has gone from an inconsistent cornerback to the one sure thing in the Giants secondary.
The thing that jumps out as soon as you look at Webster’s 2011 stats is 4 interceptions, tied for 5th-most in the NFL. He has already matched his 2010 total. But that alone isn’t enough to stay he’s elite. He has also recorded 11 pass deflections after just 12 in all of 2010, showing that he isn’t just getting lucky that the passes to the receivers he’s covering were poorly thrown. The 11 passes Webster has broken up is the 7th-highest total in football. But the interceptions and pass deflections don’t necessarily mean anything. If teams have been picking on Webster and throwing more passes to the defenders he has been covering, he would have more opportunities to make plays. So it’s time to get a little bit technical.
Corey Webster has been making plays all season for the Giants, and opposing teams are becoming more and more reluctant to throw the ball his way. (northjersey.com)
Brian Burke of advancednflstats.com came up with two metrics, WPA and EPA, that measure the playmaking ability of a defensive player and how much he has helped his team win. By both of those statistics, Webster has done extremely well. His +WPA (win probability added) is currently 0.74, meaning that overall in 2011, his individual play has given the Giants the equivalent of 74% of a win. That mark ranks 7th among NFL CB’s. By EPA (expected points added), Webster has saved 23.2 points over the course of the season, the 12th-best mark in the league among corners. And opposing teams are taking notice.
Webster has played in all 9 games the Giants have played this season, and those 9 games played are tied for the 6th-most by any player in football. Yet he has recorded just 26 tackles, the 34th-most among NFL corners. Why is that? Because teams are challenging him less and less, and when they have, he has made plays, breaking up the 11 passes and intercepting 4 more. You can often pick out a mediocre corner by the amount of tackles he makes because the vast majority of tackles that corners make are because they failed in coverage and allowed a completion. (If a corner was downright bad, he wouldn’t make enough starts to register a considerable amount of tackles.) Webster’s interception/pass deflection to tackle/tackle assist ratio has been .48 to 1, the 4th-highest total among starting NFL cornerbacks who have played in at least 8 games in 2011 behind Darrelle Revis, Carlos Rogers, and Chris Gamble. Webster is making teams pay for passing in his area.
Corey Webster has taken a big step forward in 2011. He has gone from OK to elite and has been able to come up in the clutch when the Giants need him to make a play. With the Giant’s possessing such a great pass rush, a stable secondary would only make them better. The Giants’ may not have the best secondary, but they have a very good corner in Corey Webster. Look for him to make several more clutch plays before the season is through.