Last evening on NFL Network’s “Total Access”, former Rams’ CB Aqib Talib was the studio guest and he was asked to rank the top 5 CBs of the 2010s.
Here were his rankings:
- Richard Sherman—-citing 35 interceptions in that span, 2 Super Bowls and 1 Super Bowl ring.
- Aqib Talib—-citing his 26 interceptions throughout the decade and the Super Bowl ring he won with the Patriots.
- Darrelle Revis—-citing his standard of sustained brilliance throughout a 6-7 year stretch and his Super Bowl ring.
- Patrick Peterson—-citing his 3 All-Pro nods, his 7 Pro Bowls and his ability to lock down on #1 WRs.
- Chris Harris Jr.—-citing the overall excellence of his game and his Super Bowl ring.
Talib said that two of the main factors when assessing the top CBs was winning at the highest level and their ability to make the players around them better—-thus, as you probably noticed, Patrick Peterson is the only CB on this list who has not won a Super Bowl ring.
When Talib was questioned as to why he didn’t have Patrick Peterson ranked higher, he implied that Peterson was good at “running around and doing his own thing”, but that he questioned whether Peterson’s overall play was making the players around him better.
What was interesting to me was that Talib didn’t take the easy way out by simply saying that Peterson was not playing for a perennial contender and that it wasn’t his fault that his team often underachieved.
By now, pretty much everyone who watches Cardinals’ games knows that Patrick Peterson is widely admired for his ability to dog WR1s. Yet, they also know that many of Peterson’s tackling efforts are either non-existent or embarrassingly lame. Plus, fans couldn’t help but notice that ever since Peterson lit the NFL world on fire in the return game his rookie year (4 TDs—-and 0 since), his effort on punt returns have waned to a screeching halt, despite BA’s and Amos Jones’ insistence to keep running him out there, particularly in key situations.
During my guest appearance on the ROTB podcast with Blake and Johnny, I reiterated an opinion that I have been stating for over 5 years now—-that the Cardinals will never win a championship with Peterson on the team.
The main reason why I came to that conclusion in the first place is that Peterson creates a troubling double standard. In metaphorical terms, Peterson feels he is entitled to play in a tuxedo, a cumber bun and patent leather shoes while his ten defensive teammates don work boots, utility vests and hard hats.
No coach of the Cardinals during his tenure in Arizona has ever demanded more all-around effort from Peterson—-at least from what we see from Peterson week after week. His coaches have all kowtowed to him and enabled him. Because so has the team owner and the GM. Patrick Peterson has all of the authority figures around him star struck.
While this is a theory based on a knowledge of what double standards can do for team morale—-I believe that Patrick Peterson, the coaches, the owner and the GM were all to blame for Tyrann Mathieu’s demise in the desert.
Up until receiving his lucrative, 5 year $62.5M contract as the highest paid safety in the NFL, no Cardinal had donned the work boots, utility vest and hard hat the way the Honey Badger did. But it came at a dear price—-not only for the two ACL tears he suffered, but for the realization that he was playing within a culture that allowed for double standards.
Would it be all that surprising or unexpected to think that Mathieu started saying to himself, why am I busting my ass and covering for this prima donna when he doesn’t have to do the same for me?
Can you imagine Mathieu thinking—-no one ever calls him out—-so why should they ever call me out?
Except that Steve Keim called the Honey Badger out—-which is why the Honey Badgers’ indignant reaction to Keim’s request that he take a pay cut is so readily understandable—-because it is as simple as, hey, you never have called Pat P. out—-then why should you call me out?
It is no secret that the Cardinals were on a roll and playing their best football of the season until Patrick Peterson returned from his 6 game golfing tour—-horribly out of shape and likely still feeling dubious about playing for a bunch of “snakes in the grass” (which, by the way, and extremely ironically, Peterson got all kinds of support for from his former teammates on twitter, including, most ironically, from the exiled Mathieu for the snakes in the grass sentiment).
The enablement and coddling that Patrick Peterson has received from the people around him in Arizona from the owner, to the GM, to the coaches and on the national scale from the likes of Deion “Prime Time” Sanders has created an exalted figure who in his own mind is bigger than the team and bigger than the organization and perhaps at times bigger than the NFL itself.
Look at the way Steve Keim over the past few months has kissed up to Peterson—-first by saying that he would go and pick Peterson up himself at 12 midnight on the day Peterson’s PED and coverup suspension was lifted—-secondly by reiterating over and over that Peterson is still an elite cover CB in the NFL—-and thirdly by making lame excuses for Peterson when he was embarrassing himself and the team on the field for five weeks following his return, conceding that, “well, it takes time to get back into decent football shape.”
Was it just pure coincidence that upon Peterson’s return after the win in the Meadowlands versus the Jets that Peterson promptly took credit for calling it “the Peterson effect”—-that the Cardinals then promptly went on a 6 game losing skid?
During that six game losing streak, the offense put the team in position to win a few times—-yet the defense in predictable fashion (I can still hear Gambo screaming I KNEW—-EVERYONE KNEW—-THE DEFENSE WOULD CHOKE) rolled over late in games because of a handful of players, led by Peterson and Terrell Suggs just stood by and let it all be.
Here the Cardinals had a rookie QB, a revamped and inspired offensive line and a Hall of Fame WR on one side of the ball laying it all on the line and hungry as wolves to win—-and on the other side of the ball we had the most pitiful defense in the NFL rolling over week after week like a pack of possums.
Was it purely by coincidence too that after Terrell Suggs was released and Patrick Peterson decided to start trying again that the team’s fortunes were reversed?
But—-for one second—-does anyone actually think that Peterson’s change in effort was primarily team-oriented?
Ask yourself THE question: what was Peterson’s ultimate motivation to start trying hard again?
And now—-months later—-look at how the star-struck team owner, GM and coaches have once again allowed Patrick Peterson to play them like a fiddle—-
Here was a high profile player and 2018 team captain who pleaded for a trade in the middle of the 2018 season, then during the off-season, got busted for taking PEDs and covering it up, who then had the audacity to go on social media to call the Cardinals’ FO “snakes in the grass” for refusing to pay him for his 6 week removal from the team—-and then despite a new coaching staff in place and a new defense to learn—-he refused to show up for OTAs and any workouts he wouldn’t be getting paid for—-and then returned for what has to be the worst, most embarrassing 6-7 weeks of his football career—-only to turn things around very conveniently for the last three weeks of the season with a contract year looming over his head and his reputation now suddenly on thin ice—-
Only to receive immediate interest from the Cardinals to work out a contract extension???
If you want to talk about double standards—-this is about as egregious as double standards get.
What kind of a message this talk of a Patrick Peterson contract extension sends to Kyler Murray and every player on the football team?
So—-how and why did Aqib Talib arrive at the conclusion that Peterson wasn’t necessarily making the players around him better?
What gives Talib’s observation more than a modicum of merit is the fact that for the past couple of years he has played in the NFC West where his team during that time, the Rams, have dominated the Cardinals and Talib has seen up front a personally what the Cardinals’ defense has looked like with Patrick Peterson being one of its supposed leaders.
If you go back and look at the Rams’ games the past two years and chart Sean McVay’s play calling—-you will see that the Rams make deliberate attempts to run off-tackle plays and sweeps and throw RB flares and screens to Peterson’s side, much in the same way the Seahawks and 49ers do.
Coaches do all they can to help their players develop a psychological and strategic edge by pointing out the weaknesses of the other team and doing all they can to exploit them. Would it be a surprise to you, if McVay and other coaches put together a video collage of Peterson’s embarrassing tackling efforts to show to his offense?
If you were coaching against Peterson wouldn’t you run all day to his side? Wouldn’t you tell the WR who is blocking him to just hold his position because Peterson will make no effort to shed the block and in fact may act like you are forcing him out of bounds?
On screens and reverses to Peterson’s side wouldn’t you tell the WR to run a go-route, because Peterson, even if he suspects that a reverse or screen is heading his way will keep running with the WR in order to take himself conveniently out of position to make a play on the ball?
There is no question that Aqib Talib knows and understands what the Rams have been saying about Peterson’s all-around game.
Conversely, what would you imagine Talib would have to say about defending WR Larry Fitzgerald?
It’s a rhetorical question, isn’t it?
Talib is 100% correct—-Patrick Peterson is very good at “running around and doing his thing”, but that’s at the crux of the problem is the bane of the double standard—-it’s a “his thing” and not nearly often enough—-a team thing.
Does anyone believe that if Patrick Peterson gets his lucrative contract extension from the Cardinals that he will be extra motivated to play harder and suddenly be more team-oriented?
For those of you who are apt to say that I just hate Patrick Peterson—-I will tell you this straight out—-it’s not Patrick Peterson I hate—-he has been enabled by dysfunctional, disillusioned authority figures—-seriously I think any coach would love to work with a player of Patrick Peterson’s caliber—-that is if the coach understands the paramount importance of holding all of his players to the highest standards.
It’s the double standards that I hate—-and what I abhor the most is all of the losing and all of the missed opportunities the Cardinals have had to field a championship caliber team that is willing to lay it all on the line for each other.
It’s the same kind of angst and pain I feel when I hear when a once promising Cardinals turned exile rejoice upon signing with another team by saying, “I want to play for a team that is serious about winning.”