When Aaron Schatz isn't being treated like a second class citizen by Bill Polian, he's churning out excellent statistical breakdowns at Football Outsiders. Aaron is achieving this by doing what ole Bill often claims we dirty bloggers never do: By watching and analyzing tape.
Now, for someone like me (and likely for most of you), I don't think we needed a chart and numbers to tell me this information. We all watched every Colts game, and what we saw was some pretty good corner play from Tryon and Powers. Consistently good. They didn't get beat often on key plays, nor did they seem to give up yardage on important downs.
So, it comes as no surprise to me that Justin Tryon is No. 3 on Aaron's list at surrendering the fewest yards per completion (5.0) while Powers is 10th (5.6). That's very impressive.
Tryon was also solid in preventing Yards After the Catch, or YAC as we all like to say. He gave up only 2.2 yards on average every time a receiver caught a pass, making him 6th best in the NFL.
Now, when you take the same standards and apply them to Jacob Lacey... yeah, he pretty much sucks as a NFL corner when you do that.
Lacey was ninth worst in the NFL when it came to yards surrendered per completion. He gave up 9.5 yards on average, which is a fancy way of saying Jacob Lacey got beat, a lot. That's almost five more yards as Tryon on almost the exact same number of targeted receptions.
And then there is Football Outsiders' corner back Success Rate chart, which is defined as:
Success Rate, to remind everyone, is the percentage of passes that don't manage to get at least 45 percent of needed yards on first down, 60 percent of needed yards on second down, or 100 percent of needed yards on third down.
For Lacey, he didn't have much success on the Success Rate Chart in 2010. He was third worst in the NFL, with the Chris Gamble and Jonathan Wade style players of the NFL. Just a 38% success rating. He also allowed 4.5 YAC.
Again, like with rating the success of Tryon and Powers, it doesn't come as a surprise that Lacey is ranked so poorly. He was exposed in 2010 after having a semi-decent season as a rookie in 2009.
What does surprise me is that Kelvin Hayden isn't ranked anywhere on the 'These Corners Suck' chart. Hayden was awful in 2010. Yes, I'm aware he had two INTs for touchdowns last year. If those kinds of stats get you all excited, then I guess you think DeAngelo Hall is the best corner in football. Too bad he isn't and is, in fact, rather crappy (worse success rating than Lacey). Hayden also played his standard ten games before succumbing to yet another injury.
Now, in terms of dollars and sense, it is good that players like Tyron and Powers are ranked so highly. Powers was drafted high up on the board in 2009, and Tryon was traded for in 2010 (Colts gave up a 7th Rounder in this year's draft). Guys like that simply MUST be good because value was given up to acquire them. Lacey is an undrafted player signed as a free agent in 2009. If he's good, yay! If he sucks, no biggie.
However, the big concern is Hayden. He is, right now, probably the team's third or fourth best corner. Yet, he's getting paid $43 million dollars over a five year contract. 2011 is year three on that deal Bill Polian gave him in 2009, and for that kind of dough, you'd expect Kelvin to be listed in the same company as Tryon and Powers.
In 2011, Hayden will make $6.355 mill, which could about $7 mill against Indy's cap. Almost goes without saying that this is money and precious cap space being wasted on an average to bad corner. Meanwhile, Jerraud Powers (who is clearly better than Hayden now) is playing off his rookie contract (four year, $2.425 million deal) while Justin Tryon will play for $555,000 in 2011.
So, yeah, re-signing Kelvin Hayden to that deal in 2009 was a bad idea. He's pretty clearly over paid, and that money really should be going to other things (like an o-line, a proper defensive tackle, a safety who can cover someone faster than my grandmother, etc.). Per usual, apologists will tout the 'hindsight is 20-20' nonsense. What they often forget to take into the equation is part of being a great team is having great foresight into how a player will be two or three years down the line. And, right now, paying Kelvin Hayden that money was very poor foresight. Thankfully, Powers and Tryon are covering up that mistake, but that comes at a price of other areas of the team getting neglected.
Big props to Aaron and FO for great work on these stats.