The Seahawks and Richard Sherman, one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL, face the Falcons and Julio Jones, one of the best receivers in the NFL, on Sunday. In his weekly media availability, Sherman was asked whether receiver or cornerback is harder to play.
“Corner because you never leave the field,” Sherman told reporters. “You don’t get to leave the field, you don’t get to sub, you don’t get to rotate. If there’s two receivers out there on the field, you’re out there. It’s not like you get to swap, this receiver went out so somebody else comes in, it doesn’t matter. If they’re tired, they get to sub out and bring someone else in.
“That was one of the challenges when we played Denver in the Super Bowl. They’re rotating the receivers in and out every three plays and we’re out there. They get to get fresh, they get to take a breather and take a break. Sometimes the receivers never even go back to the huddle, they’ll just run out to the sideline and you turn around, you’re 60 yards down the field and a new receiver is standing there. That’s something that some people don’t think about playing corner.”
Sherman also pointed to the rules as favoring the receivers.
“A receiver can push you down the field, a receiver can grab you, pull you, and there’s no penalty for that,” Sherman said. “If you touch him, if you try to defend yourself, if you push him past five yards, illegal touching, that’s an automatic first down. Even if its third and 50, that’s an automatic first down. If you’re standing there in your own spot and they run into you, and they call that illegal contact, that’s an automatic first down. Whether it’s third or fourth and 50, fourth and 15, if you’re set up for an easy interception and they tackle you to the ground, that would be a ten yard penalty, no loss of downs, no anything. They’ll probably get that 10 yards back from another penalty or something. Holding, automatic first down. Every penalty that can be called on defense is just about an automatic first down. Very difficult to play in that position.”
He’s right, but the Seahawks won their Super Bowl in part by constantly pushing and pulling and hitting receivers beyond five yards, forcing the officials to bog down a game by calling a penalty on every single play.
The biggest difference between the two positions, which Sherman didn’t mention, is that the receiver knows where he’s going and the cornerback has to react to that. That alone makes it important for cornerbacks to be better athletes.