Film Study Of Alterraun VernerApril 4th, 2014
Joe hates to play pretend, unless the land of make believe includes Rachel Watson. No, you won’t catch Joe reading fiction or fantasy.
So in that spirit, Joe’s not going to pretend he spent time the past two football seasons watching Titans football and Alterraun Verner.
Talented Mike Tanier, of SportsOnEarth.com, was in the same boat but wanted to learn all he could about Verner. Prior to the free agency dinner bell ringing, Tanier set out to educate himself on all things Verner and penned a long piece. A few weeks old, it remains thought-provoking and informative.
Here’s an excerpt:
Verner also rarely plays press coverage. Through four games, I do not recall seeing him jam a receiver at the line, though he sometimes makes contact early in the route and rides the receiver downfield. The Titans work to allow Verner to cover in space as often as possible. If two receivers are stacked on the offensive left, Verner aligns about nine yards deep, with Coty Sensabaugh or another defender at the line of scrimmage. Typically, Verner handles deep routes or over-the-middle routes in this arrangement, while the nickel defender handles the flat and is the first line of run defense. When a force defender is needed on the right side (the defensive back who lines up outside the tight end and forces the running back to stay inside), the Titans usually slip a safety into the role, with Verner as the deep defender.
We will see in a moment how these alignments and strategic decisions complement Verner’s style of play. For now, it is important to get a feel for the shape of his game. Verner is not Richard Sherman, hammering receivers as they come off the line. Instead, he plays in space, adjusting to the receiver’s release and the route combination, and using a mixture of quickness, awareness and excellent reaction time to keep receivers from getting open and make quarterbacks leery to throw to his side of the field.
One last note before continuing: Verner frequently uses what is called the bail technique when dropping into coverage. There are dozens of examples of it on film, but here was a handy one from the Week 16 game against the Jaguars. Verner is No. 20 at the very top of the screen on this routine little pass play:
See how he dropped, with his stance wide and his butt to the sideline at about a 45 degree angle, a full second before the snap? That’s bail technique. Verner wants to be ready to run deep with his receiver, and he wants to be able to see the whole field and read route combinations. He’s willing to sacrifice the ability to press his receiver, and to be out of ideal position to cover an inside route, in order to get into bail technique position. It is the kind of thing a cornerback will often do when dropping into a Cover-3 zone: He knows he has to get deep, has help both over the middle and underneath, and wants to see which receivers are going where. But Verner also uses it in man-to-man coverage, often.
You can read the entire analysis by clicking through above. There’s a lot of meat there.
Joe surely trusts Lovie Smith and Leslie Frazier’s assessment of a top cornerback like Verner. Both men were secondary coaches, but successful defensive head coaches, and Frazier was a top NFL corner himself.
Verner is not Darrelle Revis. No chance. But he’s been assessed to be a near perfect corner for Lovie’s defense by various esteemed analysts, and Verner told Tennessee media the fit for him was so right in Tampa that it led to him pouncing on the Bucs’ offer and not pushing for the highest bid on the market.
Given Verner’s known intelligence, Joe also trusts Verner chose the Bucs because they were the best football fit for the areas in which he excels.