In 2010, Asante Samuel tied for the NFL lead with seven interceptions, despite missing five starts due to injuries.
He victimized Peyton Manning for two interceptions, including the game-winner, and victimized Eli Manning for two interceptions, including the game-winner.
He also defensed 14 passes, forced and recovered a fumble, and picked up 22 tackles.
He earned his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl selection, and his third as a member of the Eagles.
But was Asante Samuel really that good in 2010? Or did his stats just appear to be great because he had a bunch of interceptions, most of which came in a two-game period?
According to Pro Football Focus, Asante Samuel was targeted just 41 times in 2010, an average of about four per game. He allowed 19 completions, meaning opposing quarterbacks completed 46.3% of passes thrown in his direction.
Those completions traveled 141 yards, just 7.42 yards per catch and only 3.44 yards per pass attempt. He allowed two touchdowns and intercepted seven passes.
And Asante Samuel allowed a passer rating of 31.7. That’s unbelievable. He was significantly above average in all four criteria used to judge passer rating: completion percentage, yards per attempt, touchdown percentage, and interception percentage.
By comparison, Oakland Raiders star cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha posted the following statistics:
13-33, 205 yards, 0 TD, 0 INT, 60.8 passer rating
And New York Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis allowed:
19-56, 340 yards, 4 TD, 0 INT, 79.5 passer rating
Samuel dominated both Asomugha and Revis in yards per catch, interceptions, and most importantly, passer rating.
You can make the argument that teams constantly picked on opposing cornerbacks Dimitri Patterson and Ellis Hobbs because Samuel was such a shutdown corner, and that’s definitely true.
However, the numbers don’t lie. Samuel intercepted over 15 percent of all of the passes thrown to him. An interception is the best play for a defense to make, and Asante provided it seven times, including twice to win the game.
Asomugha was targeted almost as many times as Samuel. Revis was thrown at more times than Samuel. Neither picked off an interception. Not one.
Football Outsiders analyzed cornerbacks in 2010 for their performance in three different categories: yards per pass, yards after the catch, and success rate. Success rate is defined as the percentage of passes that don’t get 45 percent of the yardage needed on first down, 60 percent of yards on second down, or 100 percent of yards on third down.
Samuel topped the NFL in success rate at a dazzling 78 percent. Revis ranked second at 70 percent, while Asomugha failed to crack the top ten.
Samuel also finished first in the NFL in yards per pass, allowing just 141 passing yards all season. That’s a paltry 3.44 yards per pass.
His 31.7 passer rating allowed is miles ahead of the other three cornerbacks for the Eagles: Dimitri Patterson (93.0), Ellis Hobbs (102.2), and Joselio Hanson (104.1).
It was the best in the National Football League in 2010.
Samuel has been criticized for his all-or-nothing style of play as a cornerback but in 2010, he was simply incredible. He was a total shutdown cornerback. And he was a playmaker.
He was the most valuable member of the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense, and the best cornerback in the NFL in the 2010 season.