Everyone knows about Darrelle Revis' holdout during the preseason, when he wanted to be the highest-paid cornerback in the NFL, which is a position held by Nnamdi Asomugha. But which one of the cornerbacks is the better player?
There are many ways to assess a cornerback's performance; Asomugha and Revis both have their strengths.
Revis is a shutdown corner that plays across from the No. 1 receiver on the other team on almost every play. Asomugha plays on the left side of the field on almost every play, regardless of where the other team's No. 1 guy is.
Revis has been in the NFL for three years and has 14 interceptions with 64 pass, while Asomugha has been in the league for seven seasons and has 11 interceptions with 48 pass deflections.
Revis has a lot more targets than Asomugha does, though, which gives him a much higher chance of making plays. Obviously Revis is pitted against the No. 1 receiver, and most teams can't afford to totally let go of their No. 1 guy for a game. Revis had 111 targets last year vs. Asomugha's 28 targets.
One argument I read had the point that if you have Andre Johnson, and Revis is on him all day while another corner is on Kevin Walter, obviously the ball will still get thrown toward Revis, while if Johnson lines up on the opposite side of the field from Asomugha, who's covering Walter, then no one is going to throw the ball at Asomugha.
This idea isn't as crazy as it seems, because in reality the stats show that Asomugha isn't targeted as much because he doesn't stay on the No. 1 receiver every play. In Oakland Raiders games last year the No. 1 receiver from the opposing team was targeted over 110 times, with Asomugha being the covering corner for 15 of those passes.
The Jets opponents targeted their No. 1 receiver a little over 100 times, with Revis being the corner on 78 of those pass attempts. Teams tend to go at their No. 1 guy about the same amount of times for a season no matter who covers them, but if you know that they will not be lined up against the best corner then it is very possible that they would pass to him on plays in which he is mismatched.
During Revis' 111 targets he either had a deflection or interception on 37 of those plays, which is 33 percent of his targets. Asomugha had 28 targets, with a deflection or interception on five of those plays, which is 18 percent.
Revis plays in a blitz-heavy defense that is hard on the run and relies on its corners to be able to keep his receiver shut down with little to no safety help, while the Raiders are not such a blitz-heavy team, and Asomugha has help over the top. This doesn't really help or hurt them either way, but I like a guy who can make plays while knowing he doesn't have that extra man lurking over the top.
Asomugha, more often than not, is lined up against lesser receivers and is not targeted very often, because he is without doubt a good corner lined up against lesser receivers, but when teams did target him last year, quarterbacks had a passer rating of 98.1 versus a 32.3 rating against Revis, even with Revis usually being on the better receiver.
Along with the passing stats, Revis had more tackles than Asomugha, at 47 and 30 tackles, respectively. Not only does Revis keep a team's No. 1 guy shut down better, but he also is able to get to a ball carrier faster than his Raiders counterpart.
With all of this to consider, I have to conclude that Darrelle Revis is without a doubt a better cornerback than Nnamdi Asomugha.