Last offseason, CBS’ Pete Prisco put out his most overrated/underrated list, and to my surprise, he thought Asante Samuel was the Eagles’ most overrated player. I figured his argument (a valid one) would be that he either can’t, or has no interest in tackling. Nope.
Overrated: CB Asante Samuel. I say it every year here: Good player, not great. Big-time gambler. He makes plays, but he also gives up a bunch.
I tried to think of one occasion in which Samuel had been burnt that season, and came up completely empty. I couldn’t think of a single instance. In fact, I even put it to the test at the great Eagles blog Bleeding Green Nation. A commenter did come up with one. In the playoff game against Green Bay, at the end of the first half, James Jones had Samuel beaten deep, but dropped the pass. That was it.
And yet, I don’t think Prisco is alone in his perception that Samuel is prone to getting toasted. But that perception is dead wrong.
According to Football Outsiders, Samuel was only thrown at 36 times the entire 2010 season. He had a “success rate” of 78%, which was by far and away the best in the NFL. For quick reference, FO defines “success rate” as “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.” That was the best in the NFL. Second best? A name you might know… Darrelle Revis, at 70%.
As far as yards per pass attempt, Samuel gave up a paltry 3.2 yards per pass, which again, was the best in the NFL. Second best? Another name you probably recognize… Antoine Winfield, with 4.2 yards per attempt. To put 3.2 yards per attempt in perspective. Aaron Rodgers averaged a ridiculous 9.25 yards per attempt this past year. That was the best in the league. The bottom 4 QB’s in the NFL were Curtis Painter (6.34), Sam Bradford (6.06), Colt McCoy (5.90), and Blaine Gabbert (5.36).
But the most amazing part of Samuel’s 2010 season was that despite only being thrown at 36 times, he somehow intercepted 7 passes. That’s incredible.
Football Outsiders has yet to put out their 2011 CB charting stats, but they did give a sneak peek through Week 13 of the 2011 season. Despite a new defensive scheme that didn’t quite cater to Samuel’s skill set, the numbers were more of the same. He was 5th in “success rate” at 67%, and his yards per pass attempt were again extremely low at 4.5 yards per attempt (3rd in the NFL). Those stats don’t include Samuel’s final two games of the season against the Jets and Dolphins, games in which the opposing QB’s and WR’s had miserable Sunday afternoons.
With a logjam of talented CB’s the Eagles are pretty openly trying to trade Asante Samuel. If you’re in need of a corner, you’d be taking on a player that’s 31 years old who is going to make almost $10 million in 2012. That seems to be the focus of pretty much every article you’re going to read about Asante Samuel. I was even guilty of that back in October.
Just don’t forget that the guy is still really freaking good.