The Runner Sports

Revis Vs. Sherman: Who’s Better?

Every few years, a player comes along that fans and pundits alike name the next great “shutdown” cornerback. There always appears to be two corners sitting atop the totem pole among defensive backs, battling for the top spot. Darrelle Revis has been in this conversation for a few years now, but there is a new face emerging to challenge him for the throne. Richard Sherman had a breakout year this season to solidify his name among the top cornerbacks of the league. After a heated debate between Sherman and Skip Bayless on ESPN’s First Take over who is the best cornerback in the league, I decided to take a look into their numbers to see who truly is the best shutdown corner in the NFL.

Since Darrelle Revis was sidelined this season with a torn ACL, statistics between him and Richard Sherman couldn’t be compared this year – but there are a few other comparisons to take a look at. Since the 2011-12 campaign was only Sherman’s second year in the NFL, I decided to start by evaluating the stats of Sherman and Revis in their sophomore seasons.


 Revis Vs. Sherman — Sophomore Seasons

D. Revis 84 49 58.3 510 204 5 59.1
R. Sherman 87 41 47.1 634 135 8 41.1

 TA= targets — REC= receptions allowed — %CT=percentage caught — YDS= yards allowed — YAC= yards after catch allowed — INT= interceptions — RAT= opposing QB rating when passing into his coverage

Darrelle Revis:

In Revis’s second season in the league, he was ranked as the 2nd best cornerback in the NFL in coverage – and best in the league for any corner who was on the field for more than 1,000 snaps — Pro Football Focus. Darrelle Revis had a fantastic season in ’08, allowing opposing quarterback’s to complete only 58.3% of their passes when throwing his way, and kept QB’s under a 60.0 passer rating when targeting him. With opposing receivers catching 49 thrown into Revis’s coverage for 510 yards, he allowed only 10.4 yards per catch when a receiver did manage to come down with the ball. In his second season, Revis established himself as an elite cornerback in the NFL.


Richard Sherman:

Richard Sherman burst onto the scene in 2012 and was ranked as the premier cover-corner of the league by Pro Football Focus. Selected in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL draft, Sherman definitely wasn’t a household name before the 2012 season — but he made a name for himself quickly. After asking Tom Brady if he was a little angry after Seattle’s victory over New England, he backed up his trash-talk by shutting down Calvin “Megatron” Johnson – behind changing his twitter handle to “Optimus Prime.” Richard Sherman definitely irritated players and fans alike this season, but his stats definitely backed up his loud mouth.

Targeted 87 times on the season, Sherman allowed opposing receivers to catch only 47% of the passes thrown his way. Although he did give up an average of 15.5 yards per reception to opposing receivers, Sherman allowed only 135 yards after the catch last year. With QB’s averaging a mere 41.1 passer rating when throwing into Sherman’s coverage, it’s hard to argue with the fact that he was the best cornerback in the NFL in 2012.


Better Sophomore Season: Richard Sherman

Julio Jones, Richard Sherman Numbers don’t lie, and statistically, Richard Sherman had a superior sophomore season to Darrelle Revis’s second year in the league. Targeted three more times than Revis, Sherman allowed eight less catches than “Revis Island.” The opposing quarterback rating is an even more imposing statistic in favor of Sherman. Revis may have gave up less yards to receivers in his sophomore year in the league, but Sherman backs up this first round victory with a solid advantage on Revis in picks, as well as opposing yards after the catch.


Next I had to take a look at Richard Sherman’s season in 2012, versus Darrelle Revis’s last healthy season (2011).


Revis ’11 Vs. Sherman ‘12

D. Revis 85 35 41.2 508 117 4 45.6
R. Sherman 87 41 47.1 634 135 8 41.1


Darrelle Revis 2011:

Revis had a great year by most standards in 2008, but his defensive statistics in 2011 were tremendous. When opposing quarterbacks dared to throw the ball his way, he allowed a stifling 41.2% of those pass’s to be completed. The way Revis blanketed receivers, it was hard for QB’s to even consider throwing to their respective number one wideout. On the field for 1036 snaps on the season, Darrelle was targeted only 85 times – and allowed only 35 catches. Revis’ impressive season was backed up by PFF as they graded him top cornerback in the league in 2011.


Richard Sherman 2012:

(See Above)


Better Season (Revis ’11 Vs. Sherman ’12): Darrelle Revis (Slight Edge)

At first, my thought was to call this round a push, but I had to give Revis the slight edge for several reasons. He was on the field for 56 more snaps than Sherman in their respective seasons, yet Revis allowed only 35 receptions on the year – six less than Sherman. For all of his ny_a_revists_400added time spent on the field, Revis allowed 126 yards less than “Optimus Prime.” Sherman was terrific in 2012 – allowing only 47% of his 87 targets to be completed – but Darrelle’s 41%CT is just that much better. Sherman’s ball-hawking prowess likely gave him the edge in opposing passer rating – but if we look at all the stats – Revis’ season was slightly superior.


If the debate ended here, some could definitely argue Richard Sherman is a better true cover-corner – at this point in his career – than Darrelle Revis was after his second season. With this in mind, it’s easy to skip to the conclusion that Sherman may end up having the better career overall. Before any readers presume this is the case, let’s take a look at Revis’ third season in the league – compared to Sherman in ’12 – to better understand the leap Sherman would have to make in 2013 to be on par with Revis after three years in the league.


Darrelle Revis ’09 Vs. Richard Sherman ’12

D. Revis 111 41 36.9 425 145 6 32.3
R. Sherman 87 41 47.1 634 135 8 41.1


Darrelle Revis 2009:

In his third season in the National Football League, Darrelle Revis had one of the best seasons for a defensive back in recent memory. Tied for the 3rd most targeted cornerback in the NFL in 2009 – with 111 targets – Revis allowed only 41 of those passes to be completed. He held opposing quarterbacks to a 36.9% completion percentage when throwing into his coverage. The 41 completions Revis did allow went for only 425 yards. With a career-high six interceptions in 2009, Darrelle proved he too has ball-hawking expertise. Revis’ six INT’s combined with his knack for shutting down any receiver that steps up to the plate forced opposing quarterbacks to an exceedingly low 32.3 passer rating when looking his way.


Richard Sherman 2012:

(See Above)


3rd Season WinnerTo Be Continued… (But Sherman has a ways to go)

Revis earned the name “Revis Island” in his third season, by becoming the premier shutdown cornerback in the league. Quarterbacks were Darrelle Revissimply scared to throw in his direction – and receivers were just as frightened to line up against him. Richard Sherman had an elite season for a cornerback in 2012. Like I said above, he was ranked as the #1 cover-corner in the NFL this year. If one of these two CB’s had to be crowned champion of this, Sherman could likely prevail. However, what Revis was able to accomplish in his third season in the league is pretty remarkable. If Richard Sherman wants to be the daunting corner Revis is – the kind that seems to shutdown an entire side of the field at times – he needs to make the leap in 2013. With what Sherman has achieved at 130101115144-richard-sherman-1-single-image-cutthis point in his career however, it would be foolish to say he isn’t on the right track.

Sherman definitely has a chance to make the jump this season, but Revis shouldn’t be left in the dark. Although he went down with what used to be a career killer – a torn ACL in 2013– quarterbacks and receivers alike will certainly still be startled when he lines up across from them in 2013.

So who is the best shutdown corner in the league? We’ll let you be the judge. But I can tell you this: the two best shutdown cornerbacks in the NFL are Richard Sherman and Darrelle Revis.


*All stats courtesy of Pro Football Focus


(Photo Sherman/Revis)

(Photo Sherman 1)

(Photo Revis 1)

(Photo Revis 2)

(Photo Sherman 2)

Author: Tucker Shepard

  • Donald

    This study seems to ignore

    1) Quality of opponent
    2) Quality of the team the corner is playing for (opposite corner, pass rush, what kind of leads their team puts up)
    3) Defensive play-calling

    I think there are more significant variables being ignored that are being accounted for in this study. I don’t know which one is better. I just think this study is way too limited.

    • Tyler Arnold

      Thanks for the input, maybe we could do a part 2 taking your suggestions of variables into consideration.

    • Tucker Shepard

      Like I had said, I was evaluating only the statistics in this article. But I definitely agree with you that those are significant factors, and another article including those could definitely be a possibility down the line.