The Indianapolis Colts are finally in off-season mode after finishing the 2019 NFL season with a record of 7-9. While the season overall was a bit disappointing, things definitely could have been worse when you consider the late retirement of Andrew Luck and the injuries this team had to deal with all year. Regardless, it is time to now shift our focus to the off-season with looking at who to add and evaluating the talent already on the roster.
One of the series that we will be starting up on the site is a Rookie Review Film Room series where we go back and chronicle the season of each of these rookies while looking at their film and stats on the season. First player up is cornerback Rock Ya-Sin. While he had some up and down moments in 2019 with the team, Ya-Sin’s play overall was solid as he was thrown into the fire early as a rookie. He finished the year with 61 tackles, 2 tackles for a loss, 5 pass deflections, 1 interception, and 1 fumble recovery in 15 games played.
Weeks 1-5: Mostly Good with some rookie moments mixed in
Rock Ya-Sin’s start to his rookie season wasn’t all we hoped for after his dominant preseason and training camp with the team. Still, he was fairly solid playing mostly as the team’s number two cornerback in the first five weeks of the season.
He gave up a completion percentage of 61% when targeted in those weeks while allowing two touchdowns and having two penalties (according to PFF). His passer rating against of 124.1 wasn’t great but he was constantly in position against a few very difficult match-ups in Keenan Allen, Julio Jones, and AJ Brown. He, for the most part, held his own early in the year.
Ya-Sin was very competitive and physical in tough match-ups early in the year and that is exactly why the Colts spent the 34th overall pick in the draft on him. Look at this rep against superstar receiver Julio Jones. Ya-Sin is able to get a good jam on Jones and disrupt the route at the line of scrimmage. From there, he stays on the outside shoulder in hopes of forcing Jones to the inside where there is safety help. When Jones breaks back outside though on the “C” route, Ya-Sin is in perfect inside position to make a play. Matt Ryan just tosses the ball high and outside for a completion on the play rather than testing the position of the young corner.
His technique was really good throughout these games and he held his own in tough situations. Late in the half, Ya-Sin is tasked with defending a vertical route from Tyrell Williams down the left sideline. Ya-Sin does a great job of re-routing Williams early in the route and forcing the receiver closer to the sideline by pinching him that way. From here Ya-Sin is able to sit on Williams’ inside shoulder and read his eyes down the field. As soon as the ball is thrown, he whips his head around and extends his arm for the pass deflection. Excellent position, technique, and ability to locate the ball in the air by Ya-Sin.
When it came to his struggles, he was rarely out of position. They mostly came when he over-committed and lost track of the ball. Here was the biggest example early in the year against an elite route runner in Keenan Allen. Ya-Sin is in great position early in this route but he over-commits on Allen’s first move and loses track of the the receiver. While recovering, he panics and grabs hold of Allen in the endzone. Allen is still able to make the play for the score while Ya-Sin looks foolish. What he had to learn early was that it is okay to get beat but you have to respond well by locating the receiver, not panicking, and playing through the hands rather than grabbing hold of the receiver. Good yet inconsistent play early by Ya-Sin.
Weeks 7-8: Disaster strikes for the rookie
The first Texans game and the Denver game will be two games that Ya-Sin would like to forget from his solid rookie season. He was really poor overall as Kenny Stills and Courtland Sutton were able to have big games against the inexperienced corner. He allowed a completion percentage of 73% when targeted in these two games while allowing 175 yards and having 5 penalties against. His passer rating against was only 114.8 when targeted but he allowed nearly 16 yards per target in this two game stretch. It is safe to say this two game stretch was the worst of his young career.
The first clip here was a bit of a miscommunication between Ya-Sin and the safety that led to the big completion. The call is man coverage and Clayton Geathers is sitting deep in single high coverage. Geathers gets frozen in his spot by the eyes of quarterback Deshaun Watson and is unable to provide help over the top for Ya-Sin. Ya-Sin, thinking he has help over the top, allows the inside release and is unable to recover upon realizing his safety help is not there over the top. He could play this a bit better and stick on the receiver a little closer but this is just a great play by the Texans.
The Denver game was a straight train wreck for Ya-Sin all afternoon. Matched against one of the best receivers in football in Courtland Sutton, he was helpless all afternoon as he was called for five penalties while also giving up 75 yards through the air in coverage. Here is an example of how Sutton was able to win all day. Ya-Sin gets out-muscled at the line and is then playing catch-up the rest of the route. After that, Sutton is able to put on the breaks for a catch and Ya-Sin allows the completion while also being called for a hold on the play.
Getting called for five penalties in a game is never a good thing in football. Now, two or three of these calls were a bit ticky tacky and didn’t need to be called but Ya-Sin did put himself in position to fall victim to bad calls. Here he tries to squeeze the much larger Sutton to the sideline on the vertical route. Ya-Sin is unable to move the big bodied receiver and then resorts to grabbing hold of him on the outside. This draws the obvious penalty that led to a Denver touchdown. This game was obviously rock bottom for Ya-Sin as he was abused physically and mentally all game. Luckily, he was able to bounce back in the following weeks.
Weeks 9-17: The bounce back and strong end to the season
Through eight weeks, Ya-Sin looked like a young corner thrown into the fire way too early in his career. However, that turned around down the stretch as his play vastly improved. He did miss one game in week 12 and was banged up for a few other games after hurting his ankle against Jacksonville but he was able to finish strong in spite of that. He only allowed a completion percentage of 62% when targeted in the final eight games as he allowed 0 touchdowns and came away with his first career interception. His passer rating when targeted was just 75.8 in the final eight games which was a vast improvement compared to his first eight.
Ya-Sin’s first career interception was a great combination of ball skills with a good bit of luck. Quarterback Nick Foles airmails this deep pass as he tosses this one up into a lot of coverage. Ya-Sin originally mistimes his jump but he is able to come down with the pass before he falls to the ground. Not an elite play by any means but hey, most interceptions in the NFL have a degree of luck and poor QB play involved in them.
The biggest development in Ya-Sin’s game was that he played much more calm and collected down the stretch. He struggled early in the year with grabbing receivers the second that he lost his technique or the second they got a step on him. In the last eight weeks, he trusted his feet and trusted his reads and made some very good and confident football plays. Here he is lined up against the fifth leading receiver in the NFL in DeVante Parker. Parker tries a quick hitch but Ya-Sin is in perfect position on the inside to box out Parker and get the pass deflection. Look at the confidence he has after the play. That is a corner that is playing strong and confident football.
There really wasn’t much of a difference in Ya-Sin’s first five games compared to his last eight games outside of his confidence and improved ability to locate the football. Early in the year, he was so focused on staying near his receiver that he struggled to get his head around and find the ball in contested situations. Here he is facing a skinny post in the red zone and he plays it perfectly. He breaks on the pass as it is thrown and gets in front of the receiver for the timely pass breakup.
This was a successful season by Ya-Sin in my book by all means. He had his struggles and he even hit rock bottom halfway through the year but he battled back, regained his confidence, and improved in a few areas. Really solid rookie year for the young cornerback. Here he plays the slant perfectly on third down and gets the pass breakup against a very good receiver in DJ Moore.
The Future Outlook
The future appears to bright for Rock Ya-Sin with the Colts. It wasn’t an incredible rookie season but he was thrown into the fire early on and for the most part held up all season long. He had his few struggles and penalties but his ability to bounce back and improve all season has to be exciting to see.
Overall the expectation moving forward for Ya-Sin should be that he builds on this strong end to the year and carries that play into next season. If he can play like he did to finish the year, the Colts could be looking at a high end CB2 or maybe even their future number one corner. Obviously time will tell with Ya-Sin but all things are pointing up heading into this off-season.